Pentagon Chief Visits Saudi Arabia to Discuss Iran Tensions

Expected to meet with top royals on plans against Iran

Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, and is expected to meet with top members of the Saudi royal family with respect to ongoing US hostility toward Iran, and Trump’s talk of starting new wars.

The US has a substantial number of ground troops in Saudi Arabia’s oil-producing areas, put there officially to defend the oil. In reality, this is more US pre-positioning of troops along the Iranian frontier, as with the US troops in neighboring Iraq.

President Trump says the troops are in Saudi Arabia because “they have been a very good ally,” and has insisted that Saudi Arabia is paying 100% of the costs of all the US troops there. Officials did not indicate if this was really the case, or if compensation was still under negotiation.

Even then, the cost of US troops there is likely comparatively small to the cost of having them rampage across the Persian Gulf into Iran. If such a war breaks out, it will be on the US dime, and as usual, Trump’s narrative will switch to the myth that the US will ultimately recoup the war costs by “taking the oil.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.