This probably isn't at the top of anyone's mind right now, but if we weren't in the middle of a global pandemic it would be the top headline in the world.
The Pentagon quietly announced yesterday that we're removing missile batteries and other forces from Saudi Arabia because Iran is on longer a threat to American interests.
From the Wall Street Journal:
The U.S. is removing four Patriot missile batteries from Saudi Arabia along with dozens of military personnel sent following a series of attacks on the Saudi oil facilities last year, according to several U.S. officials. The attacks were part of hostilities that took place over several months.
Two U.S. jet fighter squadrons also have left the region, and U.S. officials also will consider a reduction soon in the U.S. Navy presence in the Persian Gulf, the officials said. The redeployment of the Patriot systems, which now is under way, hasn’t been previously disclosed.
The Pentagon’s removal of the Patriot antimissile batteries from Saudi Arabia, as well as the other reductions, are based on assessments by some officials that Tehran no longer poses an immediate threat to American strategic interests.
What has changed aside from the outbreak of the coronavirus?
A crippling virus obviously reduces the chance that one nation would attack another, but is that really saying much when the chance of that happening was already nearly zero?
Iran only ever posed a threat in a vague sense because Trump has repeatedly antagonized them for political points at home and as a favor to his political and financial supporters in the Saudi royal family.
It was Trump who ordered the assassination of an Iranian general and Trump who unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear peace deal. Trump ordered more forces to the region in response to events that he personally set in motion.
To say that Iran is no longer a threat now is more or less a misnomer because what we're really saying is that Trump got bored with it. Trump doesn't have time to pretend Iran is a threat right now.
It's not that I'm complaining; we never should have ordered American forces to Saudi Arabia. But I think this exposes that there was never a significant threat in the first place and American troops were deployed for political purposes that are just no longer applicable.
Republicans will make a huge stink out of it, but the next administration should try to salvage the nuclear deal.