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SEPTEMBER 2020

Trump Claims Saudi Arabia Paid $1Bn “Protection Fee”, Pentagon Contradicts Him

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Trump Claims Saudi Arabia Paid $1Bn "Protection Fee", Pentagon Contradicts Him

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On January 13th, US President Donald Trump boasted that he made Saudi Arabia pay $1 billion to increase US military presence in the country.

In an interview with Fox News, Trump said:

“Saudi Arabia is paying us for [our troops]. We have a very good relationship with Saudi Arabia. I said, listen, you’re a very rich country. You want more troops? I’m going to send them to you, but you’ve got to pay us. They’re paying us. They’ve already deposited $1 billion in the bank.”

The latest deployment to Saudi Arabia took place in October 2019, and consisted of approximately 3,000 soldiers, a Patriot missile defense battery, a THAAD system, as well as warplanes.

This happened after, despite the present Patriot missile defense batteries, Saudi Arabia’s Aramco infrastructure was struck by drones and missiles in September 2019. Washington and Riyadh blamed Iran for the attack, but Yemen’s Houthis claimed responsibility for it.

At the same time, it would appear that despite Trump’s claims, Saudi Arabia hasn’t paid anything.

“While we will not comment on specific bilateral defense agreements, more broadly the United States encourages burden-sharing among partners in support of shared security interests, to include defense of the Arabian Gulf,” a US State Department official said.

The Pentagon also said that Saudi Arabia hasn’t paid anything and negotiations were on-going on what would actually happen.

“The Saudi government has agreed to contribute to the costs of these activities, and discussions are ongoing to formalize these contributions. Contributions of this nature do not lead to the deployment of additional U.S. forces, and they do not drive DOD to take on new missions or responsibilities,” Pentagon spokesperson Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich told CNN in a statement.

Asked about Trump’s comments Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the payments the President referenced were referring to the concept of “burden sharing.”

“Burden sharing comes in many forms; it includes host nation support. It includes foreign military cells. It includes providing troops on the ground, and, in cases, it provides helping to offset some of our operations maintenance costs, which the Saudis are committed to doing, just as they did offset costs during the 1990 and ’91 Gulf War.”

Reportedly, Saudi Arabia also needs to reimburse the US for approximately $331 million, since in December 2018 it was discovered that the US was refueling Saudi-led coalition warplanes in the intervention in Yemen for free.

Regardless, US President Donald Trump in recent months has attempted to force several US allies to pay for protection, in the end of 2019 South Korea refused to agree and pay the massive “protection fee” Washington was requesting for its military presence in the country.

In recent days, after the US-caused escalation in Iraq, the US has threatened to block a crucial bank account of Baghdad, as well as has requested up to $35 billion for all of the “help” the US and its coalition against ISIS have given Iraq. This was all in response to the Iraqi parliament voting in favor of a non-binding resolution to expel US troops from the country.

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