Saudi King Approves of Plan to Host US Troops

Islamists have long objected to US troops in the holy land

Thursday’s reports of the US intending to send “up to 500” ground troops to Saudi Arabia was confirmed by the Saudi state media. Saudi King Salman has signed off on the plan, saying he believes it would “boost regional security and stability.”

The reports would put the US ground troops is the desert outside the capital of Riyadh, by the Prince Sultan Airbase. US officials were presenting this primarily as another deployment related to tensions with Iran.

So long as it is couched as a move against Iran, Saudi officials are all for it. Yet historically, letting ground troops from non-Muslim countries base in the Muslim holy land has been a big problem for Saudi Arabia, inflaming Islamist groups.

Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was very public about his objection to US troops in Saudi Arabia, saying that was a driving reason for the 9/11 attack. The US largely removed its troops from Saudi Arabia in the early years of the global war on terror, and this week’s announcement marks the start of a new process of putting US troops back there.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.