Did Saudi Arabia pay for US Troop Deployments?

“We have a very good relationship with Saudi Arabia, I said, ‘listen, you’re a very rich country. You want more troops? I’m going to send them to you, but you’ve got to pay us.’ They’re paying us. They’ve already deposited $1 billion in the bank,” Trump told Laura Ingraham on January 10th in an interview. 

Source: Fox News

House Rep Justin Amash was quick to respond, “He sells troops,” he tweeted on Saturday, shortly after the interview aired. 

The Independent congressman from Michigan has leveled claims like this before, “There are people who support the president, who believe things he says, but it’s pretty clear he’s not bringing home the troops. He’s just moving them to other parts of the Middle East … using our forces almost as mercenaries, paid mercenaries who are going to come in, as long as Saudi Arabia pays us some money, it’s good to go,” he said in October during an interview at NBC News. 

Photo by J Scott Applewhite/AP/Shutterstock

The interview was shortly after Saudi Arabia approved the deployment of more US troops to the region after attacks on the kingdom’s oil field facilities in September. A total of 3,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division were deployed while tensions with the Saudi’s oil rich arch-rival Iran escalated. 

The US has already sent 14,000 additional troops to the region since May 2019 drawing bi partisan criticism. 

In a presidential campaign video posted on Twitter January 12th, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called on voters to “recognize Trump as unfit to be commander in chief of our patriotic men and women serving our country in uniform,” in response to his latest actions in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Mary Altaffer/AP, FILE

Is there any evidence that the United States has received payment from Saudi Arabia, $1 Billon or otherwise?

“The Saudi government has agreed to contribute to the costs of these activities, and discussions are ongoing to formalize these contributions. Contributions of this nature do not lead to the deployment of additional U.S. forces and they do not drive DOD to take on new missions or responsibilities,” Pentagon spokesperson Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich told CNN in a statement.

“While we will not comment on specific bilateral defense agreements, more broadly the United States encourages burden-sharing among partners in support of shared security interests, to include defense of the Arabian Gulf,” a State Department official said.

As it turns out, no payments have been made in any amount to any government agency or department. It remains to be seen if they will and what amount Saudi Arabia will ultimately be responsible for. 

Children walk through a badly damaged neighborhood in Aden, Yemen (Giles Clark/OCHA).

Currently the US military is waiting to be reimbursed $331 million for aerial refueling services it provided between 2015 and 2018 to Saudi and United Arab Emirates coalition forces that were fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen. The costs were accrued between 2015 and 2018 according to a Pentagon statement dated December 2018. It was an accounting mistake that was first reported by The Atlantic and uncovered during a probe by Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

To date, the outstanding bill has not been paid making the current investments a risky financial move. Taxpayers are currently fully funding the troop deployments, the future of repayments and a total compensation amount is still up in the air.

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