Saudi Arabi has issued a striking warning over the return of Daesh if the US withdraws its troops from Iraq. In an interview with CNN yesterday, the country’s Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud said the American presence in the region played a crucial role in defeating the terrorist group and was key to preventing its resurgence in the region.
“The US has proven time and again to be a reliable ally of the Kingdom, and this is also the case with the Trump administration,” Bin Farhan told CNN. “We work very well with President Trump and with the State Department and the Pentagon and we coordinate on issues of regional security,” he said.
Regarding Daesh, Bin Farhan insisted that a US withdrawal could increase the risk of its return. “We believe that the defeat of ISIS was very much based on the contribution of the international coalition, including the US,” he said referring to the terror group with other widely used acronym.
“We think that while ISIS is geographically defeated, they continue to pose a threat and it’s very important that the international community continue to support the Iraqi forces to remain vigilant and the American presence is of importance,” he added.
There are said to be around 3,000 US troops currently stationed in the kingdom. It’s estimated that Saudi has paid the US roughly $500 million in compensation for the costs associated with stationing American forces in its territory. President Donald Trump, however, has boasted that he managed to extract $1 billion in return for deploying US troops.
The presence of American troops in the region is vital to the kingdom’s security. Facing threats on three fronts, US security umbrella is thought to be more critical now than ever before.
Riyadh has been locked in a stalemate with Houthis in Yemen, in a brutal conflict that was expected to last only a few months; it is at the centre of a dangerous escalation of tension with regional rival Iran.
Simultaneously, the royals in Riyadh, with the aid of the UAE, have cast a wide net over potential threats to their rule, moved to crush calls for reform and democracy, domestically and across the region.
Given Saudi’s estimation that the US is the primary guarantor of security in the region, Riyadh is very likely to have met calls for American troops to be withdrawn from Iraq, following the assassination of Iranian General Qassim Soleimani, with deep concern.
Following the death of Soleimani, the Iraqi parliament voted on a resolution calling on the Americans to pull their troops from the country. Iraqis have also expressed outrage at America’s presence with a series of protests demanding the withdrawal of US troops.