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A sign at the entrance of Abha airport in the southwest of Saudi Arabia is damaged from a drone attack that wounded eight people. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. has withdrawn its most advanced missile defense system from Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, while the country faces persistent air attacks from Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the Associated Press reports.

The big picture: Tens of thousands of American forces remain in the Arabian Peninsula, but Gulf Arab nations are increasingly worried about the U.S.'s plans "as its military perceives a growing threat in Asia that requires those missile defenses," the AP writes.

  • The American withdrawal of its missile defense system comes after a Houthi drone attack on Saudi Arabia wounded eight people and damaged a commercial jetliner at the kingdom's airport.
  • Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia has hosted several thousand U.S. troops since a 2019 attack that targeted the nation's country's oil production, which, at the time was claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels, but is believed to have been carried out by Iran, per AP.

What they're saying: "Perceptions matter whether or not they’re rooted in a cold, cold reality. And the perception is very clear that the U.S. is not as committed to the Gulf as it used to be in the views of many people in decision-making authority in the region," Kristian Ulrichsen, a research fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, told AP.

  • "From the Saudi point of view, they now see Obama, Trump and Biden — three successive presidents — taking decisions that signify to some extent an abandonment."

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. maintained a "broad and deep" commitment to its allies in the Middle East, per AP.

  • "The Defense Department continues to maintain tens of thousands of forces and a robust force posture in the Middle East representing some of our most advanced air power and maritime capabilities, in support of U.S. national interests and our regional partnerships,” Kirby said.

Go deeper: Biden's big Saudi reset

Go deeper

Dec 8, 2021 - World

UAE begins to reconcile with Iran

Iran’s president (right) meets with the UAE’s national security adviser. Photo: Iranian Presidency handout via Getty

A rare visit to Iran by UAE national security adviser Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Monday signaled a shift in relations between the two Gulf adversaries as the Emiratis seek to de-escalate tensions with Tehran.

Why it matters: The visit was part of a broader diplomatic push by the UAE, which has reached out to regional rivals like Turkey, Syria and Qatar in recent months in an attempt to stabilize relations.

Most teachers are white. Most students aren't.

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

The nation's 6.6 million teacher workforce has grown more racially and ethnically diverse over the past three decades — but not nearly fast enough to keep pace with a student population that's nearing majority-minority in public schools, two new reports show.

Why it matters: The disparities are especially acute between Hispanic students and teachers, and in schools with 90% or higher non-white student populations.

Updated 11 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

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