The US president’s administration is reportedly prepared to send its military personnel to Saudi Arabia, according to CNN, citing two unnamed defence officials.
According to the report, five hundred troops are slated to be deployed to the Prince Sultan Air Base, located to the east of the country’s capital of Riyadh.
The US troops will reportedly become reinforcements to the US military and support personnel already on the site with beginning preparations for a Patriot surface-to-air missile system, a runway and other airfield improvements.
The site was chosen as it is located in a remote area and it would take time for Iranian missiles to reach it, CNN reported.
Although no official announcement regarding the new troop deployment has been made, as well as no notification to the US Congress, an informal ‘heads up’ was given, and an announcement is expected to take place next week, CNN reported, citing an official.
The base is reportedly expected to be able to service US fifth-generation F-22 jets and other stealth aircraft.
CNN noted that the US Department of Defence had declined to comment on the planned deployment.
The US decision to boost military ties with Saudi Arabia comes despite Congressional outcry over the kingdom’s human rights records.
The White House said in May it was making an emergency provision within the country’s arms control law to enable billions of dollars of arms sales to the Saudi kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, the US’s main allies in the Persian Gulf. The recourse helps the president bypass congressional review for the exports.
The Trump administration had cited “alleged threats from Iran” to justify resorting to the provision.
Democrats said the president’s action violated the law because there was no actual emergency.
They also said Trump’s action shows that the United States is tolerating worst human rights abuses by Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen.
“The emergency declaration is nothing more than an egregious abuse of power by an Administration that doesn’t like being told, ‘No.’ There is no emergency, but there is a conflict in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians with US-made weapons and a Congress that is tired of being complicit,” California Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat, said in a statement last month.
The US has been supporting a 2015-present Saudi-led war against Yemen that seeks to bring back the impoverished country’s former Riyadh-backed officials. The American patronage has featured aerial refueling, which the US only stopped earlier in the year after the Saudi-led coalition grew independent of it, as well as logistical and commando support.
Tens of thousands have died since the onset of the war, and the entire Yemen has been pushed close to the edge of outright famine.
A year after the war was launched, Trump made his maiden foreign visit to Saudi Arabia, announcing more than $100 billion in arms sales to the kingdom.
Lawmakers had been holding up the sales amid concerns about civilian casualties in the war and fury at Saudi Arabia over its killing of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey last year.