Arab Countries Hamstring America’s Ability To Strike Iranian Proxies: REPORT

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anita Chebahtah)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Arab countries are hamstringing the U.S.’ ability to launch self-defense strikes on Iranian proxy militias that have injured and killed U.S. troops in the region in recent months, Politico reported, citing officials.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other Arab nations have blocked U.S. military overflight privileges and restricted access to in-country, Politico reported, citing a U.S. official, a congressional aide and two Western officials. Arab governments toe a delicate line in supporting U.S. efforts to defend against Iran-backed attacks while hoping to appease Iran and maintain an appearance of solidarity with Palestine as the Israel-Hamas war has inflamed tensions across the region.

“They don’t want to appear like they’re against Iran and they don’t want to appear too close to the West and Israel for public opinion reasons,” one of the Western officials told the outlet, specifically referring to the UAE. (RELATED: Iran-Backed Attacks Are Hampering US Counter-ISIS Mission In Iraq, Watchdog Report Says)

The U.S. has thousands of troops deployed on bases scattered across the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and other Middle Eastern nations.

Iran-backed militants have attacked bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria about 170 times with drones, rockets and missiles since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, according to the Pentagon. Attacks have killed three troops, critically injured another and inflicted traumatic brain injuries on dozens more.

In response, the Pentagon has, at the president’s direction, carried out multiple retaliatory airstrikes against the militias and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

However, some Arab nations, particularly those “attempting a detente with Iran” are “increasingly restricting” the U.S. military from conducting retaliatory strikes from their own soil, the U.S. official told Politico. The restrictions also hamper the U.S.’ ability to defend against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, who are targeting commercial shipping and naval vessels in the Red Sea.

The Houthi rebels have launched 46 attacks against Red Sea ships since Nov. 19, according to Politico.

It was not immediately clear how many nations had moved to limit U.S. military activities, the outlet reported.

The U.S. military has “the capability to flow additional assets to the region to support regional deterrence efforts and provide options for a wide range of contingencies” when necessary, Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told Politico.

“We also maintain the capability throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to defend our forces and conduct self-defense strikes at the times and places of our choosing,” Ryder added.

Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE hosts U.S. military aircraft, including F-16 fighter jets and MQ-9 Reaper spy drones, that conduct operations across the region, Politico reported. It’s one of the closest bases to the two facilities in eastern Syria tied to the IRGC and Iranian proxies U.S. Central Command targeted in October, just after the attacks on U.S. troops began to escalate.

Kataib Hezbollah, one of the major Iranian proxy groups, has tied their operations to opposition to U.S. support for Tel Aviv.

The National Security Council and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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