The US will send an additional 3,000 troops to Saudi Arabia in response to the September 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities which disrupted roughly 5% of global crude oil supply, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Friday. The US will send two fighter squadrons, one air expeditionary wing, two Patriot batteries and a Terminal High Altitude Defense system to Saudi Arabia, Esper said at a press conference.
The US, which blames Iran for the September 14 attack, has increased the number of US forces by about 14,000 to the region since May, according to the Defense Department.
“We thought it was important to continue to deploy forces to deter and defend and to send the message to the Iranians: ‘Do not strike another sovereign state, do not threaten American interests, American forces, or we will respond,'” Esper said Friday. Friday’s announcement came after the National Iranian Tanker Company announced that one of its Suezmax tankers, the Sabiti, had spilt oil after two “separate explosions, probably by missile hits” while in the Red Sea. The tanker was carrying 1 million barrels of crude, the NITC said.
Brent oil prices climbed above $60/b following news of the possible attack. At 1627, ICE December Brent was up $1.04 at $60.15/b and NYMEX November WTI was up 76 cents at $54.31/b.
Friday’s troop announcement also precedes Russian President Vladimir Putin planned visit to Saudi Arabia next week. Putin is scheduled to meet with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh on Monday, before he travels to the UAE on Tuesday, according to the Kremlin.