'The Trump administration has backtracked on its earlier bid to build a military coalition in the Persian Gulf to counter what it called the “Iran threat”, saying now that the coalition is not aimed at countering the Islamic Republic.
A top Pentagon official told Reuters on Thursday that the US Persian Gulf maritime proposal is not supposed to be a military coalition against Iran.
“This is not a coalition against Iran ... If you were militarily confronting Iran, this is not the construct that you would use,” said Kathryn Wheelbarger, one of the most senior policy officials at the Pentagon.
Wheelbarger, who briefed NATO allies this week on the US proposal, said the coalition is simply aimed at “shining a flashlight” in the Persian Gulf to deter attacks on commercial ships.
“Just shining a flashlight on something - that’s all we’re asking people to do, quite frankly.”
According to the senior official, the coalition is to be less operational and more geared toward increasing surveillance capabilities.
“The goal is to increase maritime domain awareness and surveillance capabilities in the region to dissuade malign action,” she explained.
Her remarks are seen as another flip-flop in the policies of the Trump administration, as the US military’s top general had said a few days ago that Washington engaged in talks with a number of countries to form a military coalition to deter what it calls Iran’s threat to shipping in the Persian Gulf region.'
Read more: US backpedals on bid to build ‘anti-Iran’ military coalition in Persian Gulf
US allies in Middle East turning their back on Trump: Analyst
'The administration of US President Donald Trump and his allies in the Middle East are unlikely to launch a military strike against Iran, as Washington struggles to win its allies’ support to forge a military alliance against Tehran, says an American political analyst.
“The US is quickly finding all of its allies, including Iraq, are turning their back on the United States,” said Scott Bennett, a former US military psychological warfare officer.
“I think [President] Donald Trump is smart enough to realize that if he is seen as a president trying to start another war, he’ll be very quickly removed from office and will not work in a second term,” Bennett told Press TV on Thursday.
The Trump administration is reportedly preparing to send hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia amid escalating tensions with Iran and despite growing criticisms of Washington’s military ties with Riyadh over the regime’s gloomy human rights record.
Citing two US defense officials, CNN reported on Thursday that around 500 troops are expected to be dispatched to the Prince Sultan Air Base, located in a desert area east of the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
They said that a small number of troops and support personnel are already in the air base, with initial preparations being made for a US-made Patriot missile system as well as runway and airfield improvements.
The unnamed US officials said that Washington is expected to fly stealth, fifth-generation F-22 jets and other fighters from the air base.'
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