The Trump Administration announced Friday that they would send additional troops to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, one week after an attack on Saudi oil production facilities knocked out 5% of the global oil supply.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters that the administration's goal the troops were being deployed to send a clear message to the region that the United States supports its partners there and will defend the flow of commerce through the Persian Gulf.
"Right now we're focused on helping the Saudis improve their defense infrastructure," Esper said. "As the President has made clear, the United States does not seek conflict with Iran, that said, we have many other military options available should they be necessary."
Esper said the troops being deployed to the Middle East would be primarily "defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense." The U.S. has placed blame on Iran for the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities, which they have denied.
Details on the number of troops being deployed and how long their mission might take, were not offered by Esper during Friday's briefing with reporters. The request for troops came from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
"It's going to hell, doing poorly, they're practically broke -- they are broke," he said.
Trump told reporters he chose sanctions over airstrikes because it would be the harder road to take.
"I think the strong person approach, and the thing that does show strength, would be showing a little bit of restraint," he said.
Iran has denied having any responsibility for last week's attacks. Yemen Houthi rebels, who are currently in a war with Saudi Arabia for control over the country claimed responsibility for the attacks, a claim that has been dismissed by many administration officials. However, no evidence has been presented to support that conclusion.
"Iran's brazen attack against Saudi Arabia is unacceptable," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement about the new sanctions, which targeted the Central Bank for providing "billions of dollars to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, its Qods Force and its terrorist proxy, Hizballah."
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