US exploring new bases in Saudi Arabia amid rising tensions with Iran


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US exploring new bases in Saudi Arabia amid rising tensions with Iran
Military says testing of shipping through Yanbu is ‘contingency’ planning; bases at Tabuk and Taif under consideration as attacks increase from Yemen’s Tehran-backed Houthis
By Jon Gambrell
26 January 2021

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The US military is exploring the possibility of using a Red Sea port in Saudi Arabia and additional two airfields in the kingdom amid heightened tensions with Iran, the military said Tuesday. While describing the work as “contingency” planning, the US military said it already has tested unloading and shipping cargo overland from Saudi Arabia’s port at Yanbu, a crucial terminal for oil pipelines in the kingdom. Using Yanbu, as well as air bases at Tabuk and Taif along the Red Sea, would give the American military more options along a crucial waterway that has come under increased attack from suspected mine and drone boat attacks by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.


Tall Timbers

Imperfect but forgiven
I've been in Saudi Arabia several times as an aircrew member and once on general's staff. We military had to stay on whatever compound they had us. The only time we could leave that "reservation" was if we worked at a different place. As an aircrew member I never had to leave the compound. I would get up in the middle of the night to do my runs because it was cooler then. I'd run the circumference of the compound which was marked by a chain link fence and razor wire. I have to admit that I felt like an easy target for a sniper on those runs so that kind of removed any joy I'd get from the jogs, but at least I stayed fit. After a while the same drab scenery and the same food over and over again starts to seem like a kind of torture. It's hard to keep your sanity if you stay very long. When on general's staff I left the compound every day to either go in to Ridyah where I worked in a smaller compound or to go to Saudi Military HQ. I had my own Suburban and was instructed to drive as fast as I could and go straight from point A to B without deviation. We were told to keep our eyes open for ambushes but there wouldn't have been much we could have done about an ambush on the trip which was around 30 minutes each way. Earlier in life I'd had training in offensive driving but the military didn't offer us any training for what to do in the event of an ambush. I always felt extremely vulnerable while there and unwelcome by the people, and especially by the royal family.

My best memory while on general's staff was when I was departing the Saudi Military HQ one day. I was an old Major and a Saudi Captain appeared to be lost. I asked if I could maybe help him. He told me about a meeting he was supposed to go to but had never been at HQ and didn't have a clue where the meeting was. Somehow or other I knew when and where he needed to be and I took the time to escort him there myself. A superior officer doing that for him is unheard of in the Saudi culture and the appreciation and awe of what I'd done for him shone so strong in his eyes. I'll never forget that.
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