The commitment by the United States has not changed in the Gulf Arab allies despite recent reports of a shift in US force posture in the region, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said in an interview with CNBC.
“Our mission is not at all changed. We’re standing with our partners and our allies in the region. We’re doing everything we can to protect American interests,” Hook told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Friday.
“Troop levels and our force posture sort of goes up and down as the circumstances warrant … But we are always committed to the safety of American diplomats, American troops, and also to supporting our partners and allies in the region. Over the last almost year, you’ve seen us move around troops and also equipment around the region. But the mission set doesn’t change,” he added.
Brian Hook (L), the US special representative on Iran, listens to a member of the Saudi military forces at an army base in al-Kharj, south of the Saudi capital Riyadh, on June 21, 2019. (AFP)
Hook’s comments came on the same day US President Donald Trump spoke with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz in which both leaders reaffirmed the strong ties between Riyadh and Washington in terms of their defense partnership.
Trump also reiterated that the United States is “committed to protecting its interests and the security of its allies in the region and its determination to confront everything that destabilizes security and stability.”
The comments from Hook and Trump come as reports suggested the Pentagon is about to withdraw two of its Patriot anti-missile batteries from Saudi Arabia along with a number of its personnel who were deployed to man the military equipment last year in the wake of strikes on Saudi Aramco oil facilities which both countries blamed on Iran.
Hook told CNBC that the redeployment of its troops and equipment in the region does not mean the US no longer sees Iran as a threat.
“Our troop levels go up and down depending on the circumstances, but the mission set is the same. Our mission is not at all changed. We’re standing with our partners and our allies in the region. We’re doing everything we can to protect American interests,” Hook told CNBC.