President Donald Trump after much speculation has declared that he is sending an additional 1,500 US troops to the Middle East as part of a “mostly protective” effort to deter Iranian threats.
“We want to have protection,” Trump said, speaking to reporters Friday at the White House. “The Middle East, we’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops — mostly protective. Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now and we’ll see what happens.”
Asked how many troops, he said: “It’ll be about 1,500 people.
“I don’t think Iran wants to fight,” Trump later added, “and I certainly don’t think they want to fight with us.”
Trump also declared an emergency over Iran and is now moving forward with arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan that had been blocked by Congress since last year.
However the move on arms sales drew strong condemnation.
“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Trump administration has failed once again to prioritize our long-term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favors to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia,” said Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spike in favour of the move. “These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Meanwhile, Pentagon, shortly after Trump’s statement release, announced that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps is responsible for attacks on four tankers at a port in the United Arab Emirates.
Vice Adm. Michael Gilday, director of the Joint Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon that “the Iranians have said publicly they were going to do things. We learned through intelligence reporting they have acted upon those threats and they have actually attacked.”
Trump has said he does not want to go to war with Iran, but has also threatened to use military force against the country.