On September 19th, the WSJ reported that the Pentagon, and specifically US Central Commander (CENTCOM) Chief Gen. Kenneth Mackenzie requested the deployment of 3 more Patriot batteries to Saudi Arabia, in addition to additional F-22 Raptor fighter jets.
Because the present Patriot missile batteries are doing a marvelous job.
The deployment also includes possible additional surveillance capabilities in the region.
On its part, Fox News reported largely the same news, further citing an anonymous source who claimed that if any more personnel was deployed it would only be “in the hundreds,” since the Middle East already hosts approximately 70,000 US soldiers, anyway.
A Saudi Ministry of Defense reported showed the coverage of the Patriot batteries and where the strikes hit. The images are rather humorous.
The report also shows that the only missiles that didn’t cause any damage to infrastructure were only the misfired ones.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo returned from his visit to Saudi Arabia and appeared to present a softer rhetoric towards Iran.
That is, this time the claims of the alleged attack on the Aramco oil infrastructure was an “act of war” and the hawkish claims were replaced by simply repeated claims of organizing an anti-Iran coalition.
The US has, for a while, attempted to form such a coalition, with very limited success.
The tone changed after meeting Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Asked about the comments Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif gave earlier in the day, Pompeo sought to play down the situation.
“I was here in an act of diplomacy. While the foreign minister of Iran is threatening all-out war and to fight to the last American, we’re here to build out a coalition aimed at achieving peace and a peaceful resolution to this,” the secretary of state said. “That’s my mission set, what President Trump certainly wants me to work to achieve, and I hope that the Islamic Republic of Iran sees it the same way. There’s no evidence of that from his statement, but I hope that that’s the case.”
“The president’s direction to us, to continue to prevent them having the capacity to underwrite Hizbullah, Shia militias in Iraq, their own missile program, all the things that they have done to pose a threat to the world, that’s the mission set with our economic sanctions,” he said.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, told CNN on Thursday that the Islamic Republic “won’t blink” if it has to defend itself against any U.S. or Saudi military strike, which he said would lead to “all-out war”.
“I make a very serious statement about defending our country. I am making a very serious statement that we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation,” Zarif told CNN. “But we won’t blink to defend our territory.”
On September 20th, Zarif called Kuwait’s foreign minister Sheikh Sabah al Khalid Al Sabah where the two discussed measures to de-escalate tensions in the region, state news agency KUNA reported.
"Act of war"or AGITATION for WAR?
For their own sake, they should pray that they won't get what they seek.
They're still paying for much smaller #Yemen war they were too arrogant to end 4yrs ago.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 19, 2019
Saudi Arabia is continuing its harsh rhetoric, to possible no significant outcome, but to show some sort of pride, since it is likely quite clear that a war with Iran is one that it couldn’t win, similarly to the one in Yemen. Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir said that the “Iranian regime’s hostile and outlawed behavior” is unacceptable.
Complacency with the Iranian regime will only encourage it to commit more acts of terrorism and sabotage in our region and around the world.
— Adel Aljubeir عادل الجبير (@AdelAljubeir) September 19, 2019
But it does appear as if the initial US rhetoric of an instant strike on whoever was responsible for attacking an “ally” rather pushed the Kingdom into a harsher rhetoric and gave it false courage.
Since now, even the Pentagon is saying that its goal is “to deter conflict and get back on the diplomatic path” and didn’t specifically blame Tehran for the attacks. Even though they’re “trustworthy” ally presented “evidence” of Iran allegedly being behind the attack.
The “lying” Houthis may end up having said the truth.
“As of this time all indications are that Iran is in some way responsible,” spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said, before adding: “We’re not going to get ahead of the Saudi investigation in their assessment of this.”
Essentially, the current state of the “conflict” is that the Trump administration maintains that it would support the Kingdom in any response, but the lead needs to be taken by Riyadh. Meanwhile, the Kingdom continues its accusations, but says that it doesn’t wish a full-scale conflict.
In line with Pompeo’s claims, the US immediately “ramped up” pressure on the Iran-allied Hezbollah. A Hezbollah one-man cell was discovered in New Jersey and the individual was arrested and charged with providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, among other charges.
“The Department of Justice today announced that Alexei Saab, 42, of Morristown, New Jersey, also known as Ali Hassan Saab, Alex Saab, or Rachid, was charged today in a nine-count indictment for offenses related to his support for Hizballah and separate marriage-fraud offenses. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe,” the Department of Justice announced.
“According to the allegations, while living in the United States, Saab served as an operative of Hizballah and conducted surveillance of possible target locations in order to help the foreign terrorist organization prepare for potential future attacks against the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “Such covert activities conducted on U.S. soil are a clear threat to our national security and I applaud the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this investigation and prosecution.”
“As a member of the Hizballah component that coordinates external terrorist attack planning, Alexei Saab allegedly used his training to scout possible targets throughout the U.S,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. “Even though Saab was a naturalized American citizen, his true allegiance was to Hizballah, the terrorist organization responsible for decades of terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds, including U.S. citizens and military personnel. Thankfully, Saab is now in federal custody, and faces significant prison time for his alleged crimes.”
It is unlikely that he was just suddenly discovered, he was just being kept as a sort of proof of US commitment to pressure, to be used at the right moment.
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