The Pentagon is set to pull Patriot missile defense systems from Saudi Arabia amid internal pressure to transfer military assets to counter China, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Why it matters: The United States has a total of four Patriot batteries in Saudi Arabia, largely in response to a cruise missile and drone attack on the Abqaiq and Khurays oil refineries in September 2019, which the United States accused Iran of carrying out. Washington also sent F-22 fighters and B-52 bombers, as well as thousands of military personnel and a second aircraft carrier to the region in order to deter further Iranian attacks. CENTCOM commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told Congress in March that killing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad had “reestablished a rough form of deterrence … at the level of state-on-state attacks” by Iran. But Iran-linked militias in Iraq continued to launch rocket strikes on US positions in Iraq — one of the reasons the United States decided to consolidate its troops at larger bases and introduce missile defense systems to Iraq.