A Saudi official acknowledged that the Trump administration has vowed to increase intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia regarding Iran. The top military general, Ahmed al-Asiri, also said that the U.S. is committed to increase defense cooperation against Iran’s meddling in the region and its proxies.
The Trump administration has already issued new sanctions on Iran in response to ballistic missile tests earlier this year. Thirteen individuals and 12 entities were part of the sanctions. Some of these individuals and entities are based in China, the UAE and Lebanon.
Despite strong language from President Trump, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to Twitter in early February, saying that Iran remains undeterred by U.S. threats. “Iran unmoved by threats as we derive security from our people,” Zarif wrote.
While the sanctions were the first punitive action against Iran by the Trump administration, there are several indications that they won’t be the last. Congress is also considering having the IRGC designated as a foreign terrorist organization. The Trump administration has repeatedly signaled that they wish to take a tougher stance with Iran versus the Obama administration. This includes actively criticizing the 2015 nuclear agreement.
Brig. General Ahmed al-Asiri is an advisor to the kingdom’s defense minister and a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen that are backed by Iran. The general indicated that the U.S. commitment will help to rebuild the relationship that was damaged at the end of President Obama’s time in office.
Last week, President Trump welcomed Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to Washington. His administration also allowed the sale of major weapons to Riyadh to go through. It had been previously blocked by the Obama administration due to concerns about human rights in Yemen.
It was reported last month that Trump’s administration was moving forward with the $300 million deal providing Saudi Arabia with missile technology while there were claims that Saudi military has bombed civilians in Yemen. General al-Asiri denied that Saudi bombings have resulted in human rights abuses and emphasized that the U.S. is not involved in the Saudi-led campaign.
“We are on the front line, facing the bad behavior of the Iranians in the area. You have a country openly smuggling weapons to militias and terrorist groups and there [are] no consequences [under] international law. We have to do something against this,” said al-Asiri.
He added that the promises made by the Trump administration mean that U.S. intelligence and military assets are close to supporting Saudi efforts in curbing Iran’s activities in the region.