The United States will pull two Patriot missile batteries from guarding Saudi Arabian oil facilities, an American official told the Associated Press on Thursday, citing a disagreement over oil production.
The anonymous source also told the AP that the U.S. would pull out 300 U.S. troops staffing the missile batteries.
U.S. President Donald Trump said, when asked to confirm the reports during a televised coronavirus meeting with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, replied, “Well, I don’t want to talk about it,” adding merely that his administration was “doing some things” and “making a lot of moves in the Middle East and elsewhere. We’re doing a lot of things all over the world militarily. We’ve been taken advantage of all over the world, our military.”
President Trump’s words were vague, and did not mention crude oil, the OPEC production cuts, or the amount of oil the United States is currently cutting by market default. He also didn’t mention the Saudi elephant in the room—the 35 million barrels of Saudi oil in tankers idling off the U.S. coast waiting for their turn to unload into an already saturated oil market.
“Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy country and they’ve agreed to help defray some of the costs, which nobody else would ever ask for,” the President said about the alleged military moves, adding that “if we’re going to defend countries, they should also respect us by making a contribution.”
That Saudi Arabia ramped up production with reckless abandon and sent much of it toward the United States, where it now waits on oil tankers in U.S. waters, has angered some U.S. lawmakers, who last month lobbied the Trump administration to do something about it, be it assessing tariffs or sanctions—or even pulling military support for Saudi Arabia at a time when there remain significant tensions between it and Iran.