Biden Administration to Relocate Patriot Missiles From Middle East

The Wall Street Journal reported eearlier this week that the US administration has decided to pull Patriot anti-missile systems out of the Persian Gulf region. The US has reportedly decided to relocate at least three Patriot batteries and naval assets and surveillance systems are also being moved to other regions as well.

Soldiers from the 3-43 Air Defense Artillery Battalion, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar
(US Air Force / Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi)

The relocation of US assets from the Persian Gulf is a part of the wider operation to decrease the US presence in the region. With the talks on the new Nuclear Deal with Iran taking place, such moves are definitely a gesture towards Tehran. However, the United States has to focus on issues elsewhere as tensions with China become a more serious threat to national security. According to the Global Conflict Tracker, the tensions in the East China Sea pose a critical impact on US interest. In order to face these dangers, the US is forced to reballance its forces that were previously tied down in the Persian Gulf region. The region is slowly becoming less central to US national security interests.

During the debate on the relocation of the Patriot anti-missile systems, the question of relocating THAAD was also raised. However, the Pentagon sees the need to keep it in place. In exchange for the withdrawal of the Patriots the US will offer military aid and further sales of defensive systems to lower the impact of the Houthi attacks, which still pose threat to the Saudi oil industry and military installations.

The relocation of the Patriots will probably come at a price in terms of relations with Saudi Arabia. The decision made by the White House on reducing sales of equipment to the Saudis made in January has already undermined relations between the two countries. The US alliance with Saudi Arabia remains one of its key policies to maintain stability in the region and deescalate the threat posed by Iran in the Persian Gulf.