The US is concerned about potential Iranian threats to Saudi Arabia, a White House official said Tuesday.
“We are concerned about the threat picture, and we remain in constant contact through military and intelligence channels with the Saudis,” a National Security Council official said in an email to Al Arabiya English.
The official added that the US would not hesitate to defend “our interests and partners in the region.”
The Wall Street Journal first reported news of the Iranian threats.
Citing Saudi and US officials, the WSJ reported that Saudi Arabia, the US and other countries in the Middle East had elevated the level of alert for their military forces.
The Associated Press later quoted a US official as saying an attack could take place “soon or within 48 hours."
Al Arabiya English has contacted the Saudi Embassy in Washington for comment.
Last month, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps head, Hossein Salami, threatened Saudi Arabia and said the Kingdom should “be careful.” Salami claimed that Riyadh was provoking the anti-government protests that have rocked Iran and its regime for over a month.
While tensions between Washington and Riyadh have been rocky since the Biden administration took office, current and former US officials have expressed the need to maintain a steady relationship. The military relationship has been a critical part of the strategic alliance between the two countries. An estimated 70,000 US citizens live or work in the Kingdom.
After reports emerged of the Iranian threats on Tuesday, Republican Senator Joni Ernst criticized the Biden administration.
Noting the approximately 3,000 US servicemembers stationed in Saudi Arabia, Ernst accused Democrats of advocating to remove air and missile defense units, “risking the lives of US citizens & our troops alike.”
Ernst went on: “Saudi Arabia is a longstanding Gulf security partner and that has not changed. The Biden admin kneecapped U.S. energy production and has blamed OPEC+ for high gas prices. The American people don’t buy it.”
🧵U.S. currently has approx. 3,000 servicemembers stationed in Saudi Arabia. While Iran prepares for an attack on our partners, leading Dems are advocating for removing key air & missile defense units, risking the lives of U.S. citizens & our troops alike. https://t.co/Az6PTFZrUT— Joni Ernst (@SenJoniErnst) November 1, 2022
She was referring to the recent criticism of Biden administration officials who have repeatedly accused Saudi Arabia of siding with Russia in the aftermath of the OPEC+ decision to cut oil output.
Following the OPEC+ move last month, the Biden administration postponed a US-GCC integrated air and missile defense working group meeting.
And US officials have said they would review the relationship with Riyadh because of the decision reached by OPEC+.
Saudi Arabia has rejected accusations of siding with Russia, pointing to UN votes where it condemned the Russian invasion and purported annexation and pledged $400 million in aid for Ukraine.
Saudi officials hit back at US criticism, saying they were asked to delay the OPEC+ decision until after the US’s midterm elections.
Soaring oil and gas prices coupled with inflation have hounded the current US administration ahead of what looks to be a tough bid for Democrats to retain control of the House and the Senate.
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