US military increase exacerbates tensions in the Middle East
The US Department of Defense (DoD) said on September 20 that President Trump approved the deployment of additional troops to the Gulf region and will deploy air defense forces including the missile defense system to strengthen the defensive capabilities of its regional allies after the attack on Saudi oil facilities. China Mail reports in its article US military increase exacerbates tensions in the Middle East that on the same day, the US also announced sanctions against three Iranian entities, including the Central Bank of Iran, saying it was a response to the attack on Saudi oil facilities.
Two oil facilities of Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia's national oil company, caught on fire after a drone attack on September 14, with Yemen's Houthi rebels announcing that they carried out the attack. However, the US accused Iran of being the black hand behind the attack. In this regard, Iran has repeatedly denied its participation in the attack and said that the US is seeking "extreme" and "direct" confrontation against Iran.
According to the explanation provided by the US, the purpose of increasing troops is to protect its strategic oil lifeline because the international oil price increased significantly as a result of the impact of this unexpected event. However, such a statement cannot be justified as Saudi oil production was affected by the attack while the US shale oil industry has benefited from it. Many energy analysis companies expect that the US crude oil exports will increase significantly in the coming months.
Some analysts believe that the attack on Saudi oil facilities is just an excuse for the US to once again hype the "Iran threat". The main US strategy in the Middle East is to contain Iran. The increase of troops in the Gulf region aims to increase the level of extreme pressure on Iran to realize its strategic intention of containing Iran.
The US-Iran relations have deteriorated severely and the situation in the Gulf region has continued to get tense since May this year. Any action associated with Iran will fray the nerves of the US. Some experts said that regardless of whether the attack was carried out by Iran, US will blame Iran. Such practice is not new. In the bombing incident of the vacant land near US Embassy in Iran in last May, the US accused Iran of carrying out the attack. The reason is that the rocket launcher was found at Iraqi Shiite militia camp and Shiite militias have good relations with Iran. As for this time, the US still ignores the claim of Houthi rebels and has increased its presence in the Middle East against the "Iran threat" theory. Its intention, which is to stir up the situation in the Middle East and profit from it, has been fully exposed.
As the primary factor affecting the situation in the Persian Gulf, the US-Iran relations are related to the stability of the region. However, the future is not optimistic based on current situation. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on September 22 that blaming Iran for the events occurred in the region is only a repeated lie. He also resolutely opposed the involvement of extra territorial forces in regional affairs. When it comes to the US "extreme pressure", facing sanctions directly has been Iran's choice for a long time. From the partial suspension of the Iran nuclear deal implementation to the shooting down of the US Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Iran has demonstrated tough attitude and military strength that could not be underestimated. Iran will be unlikely to show its weakness in front of the US troops increase in the Gulf region.
The attack on Saudi Aramco's facilities is like a match. The US took the opportunity to increase troops and as a result, the Middle East "gunpowder barrel" is likely to be further ignited. Tensions in the Middle East are rising. The prospect of the region depends on the choices of key stakeholders such as the US and Iran.