The US-Saudi joint military exercises around the Karan and Kurayn Islands in the Persian Gulf end today after a week of joint sustainment training.
This was the second phase of joint exercises meant to continue mission-essential training between the US 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and their Saudi allies. While US–Saudi relations have come under strain due to the recent oil crisis caused by the Saudi-Russian price war and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration appears committed to the military partnership; the Pentagon announced its commitment to long-term defence contracts.
Washington is a major supplier of military aid and thus holds serious leverage over Riyadh, which is actively waging conflict in Yemen. While some in Congress have recently discussed halting future arms deals—citing the use of such weapons against Yemeni civilians—this seems highly unlikely as Saudi Arabia is an important regional ally that Washington calculates it needs to counterbalance Iranian regional influence. There is currently little Congress can do should the State Department follow through on new weapons sales to counter Iranian aggression. Saudi Arabia does not seem worried about its reliance on US arms, as there have been no major moves to diversify supply.
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Wescott is a Copy-Editor and Senior Analyst. His thematic focuses are international security, politics, economics and public policy.