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US troops return to Saudi Arabia after 16 years

US troops are returning to Saudi Arabia for the first time in 16 years as tensions with Iran rise and the kingdom finds itself increasingly isolated in Yemen.

American troops are coming back 16 years after they left Saudi Arabia, King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud announced on Saturday. According to press reports hundreds of American troops are deploying to Prince Sultan Air Base outside Riyadh as tensions spike in the region between Iran and its allies and the Donald Trump administration and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia. The deployment of American troops in the kingdom has never been popular with Saudis. It was an early complaint of Osama bin Laden and comes as the Saudis' Arab allies are deserting the crown prince’s war in Yemen.

US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt arranged the construction of the first American air base in Saudi Arabia during World War II at Dhahran in the kingdom’s Eastern Province. John F. Kennedy ordered the first deployment of combat aircraft to Dhahran to deter Egyptian air attacks on Saudi Arabia during the civil war in Yemen in the early 1960s. George H. W. Bush sent a half million Americans to defend the kingdom in 1990 in Operation Desert Shield and then to liberate Kuwait in Desert Storm.

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