(FreedomBeacon.com)- In a move that was met with Republican criticism, the Pentagon announced on Friday that the Biden Administration is withdrawing “certain forces and capabilities” from the Middle East this summer. This would be primarily the removal of air defense assets in the region, though the Pentagon would not go into further detail for reasons of operational security.
According to Pentagon spokesperson Commander Jessica McNulty, this decision came after close coordination with host nations and “with a clear eye on preserving our ability to meet our security commitments.”
The Pentagon will maintain some of their “high demand, low density assets” at the ready in the event of a contingency.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon will be withdrawing eight Patriot anti-missile batteries from Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, as well as the THAAD missile defense system also currently in Saudi Arabia.
Along with the removal of these systems, hundreds of US troops who operate them will also be withdrawn. Additionally, fighter squadrons currently assigned to the region will be reduced.
Central to this move is the Pentagon’s shift in focus from the Middle East to China and Russia.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the majority of the reductions are being made within Saudi Arabia. During the Trump Administration, the Pentagon beefed up US military assets in the Kingdom as part of its “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran.
Republicans were quick to criticize the Pentagon’s move.
Comparing Joe Biden to Neville Chamberlain, Senator Ted Cruz excoriated the President first for handing Putin his “multi-billion-dollar pipeline” and now for pledging to withdraw these missile systems from the Middle East which Cruz said “facilitate Iran’s conquest of the region.”
Despite the reductions, the Pentagon insisted that it maintains an “enduring commitment” to the Middle East, adding the Defense Department still maintains “tens of thousands of forces” in the region “in support of U.S. national interests and our regional partnerships.”
But with Biden’s reopening negotiations with Iran, it is difficult not to conclude that these reductions are being used as a negotiating tool to keep Tehran at the table.