Air Force official says U.S. plans to maintain presence in Middle East
The commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command said on Saturday that U.S. military forces will continue to play an "important role" in the Middle East even as the Defense Department weighs competition with China and Russia, AP reports.
Why it matters: The remarks come as tensions between Iran and the U.S. remain high ahead of a resumption of indirect nuclear talks at the end of the month.
The big picture: Lt. Gen. Gregory Guillot said the U.S. military presence "could adjust" following the withdrawal from Afghanistan, which along with Iraq and Syria were overseen via operations at Al Udeid Air Base.
- “But I don’t see any scenario where the United States does not have an important role,” Guillot told reporters ahead of the Dubai Airshow.
- Guillot also declined to attribute the drone strike on an oil tanker in the Arabian sea in July to Iran, but he acknowledged the rise of assaults in the region, per AP. The United States, Britain and Israel accused Tehran of being behind the July 29 attack.
- “The collaborative defense of multiple countries, you know, in the region is going to be our key to detecting those and staying one step ahead of the threat as it evolves,” Guillot said, per AP.