In the next few months, Saudi Arabia could run out of US-made Patriot anti-aircraft missiles. The Gulf state has requested assistance from neighboring countries.
The Financial Times quoted a senior U.S. official as saying that Saudi Arabia had called on regional allies to replenish its stockpile of interceptor missiles. The U.S. official said it was an emergency.
The United States has been providing missile assistance to Gulf states to prevent cross-border attacks by Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen. But approval for the sale of Patriot missiles to Saudi Arabia is currently on hold.
US relations with Saudi Arabia deteriorated after the 2016 assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khasogi in Istanbul, Turkey.
The U.S. official said they could get stockpiles of missiles from other parts of the Gulf. We are trying to work on this. The U.S. is looking for an alternative to the fastest growing arms sales.
The incident was confirmed to the Financial Times by two people involved in talks with neighboring countries at the request of Saudi Arabia. One of them said that there is a shortage of interceptors in Saudi Arabia. They want to borrow missiles from friendly countries.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also hinted at this at the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) conference in Riyadh in December. Later direct contacts were made with the regional countries.
But it is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. A third U.S. source claims that Houthi rebels intensified their attacks on Saudi Arabia last year.
They fired 375 cross-border missiles at Saudi Arabia. The attacks targeted oil installations, airports and various cities in the Gulf state. Saudi Arabia is using interceptors to shoot down Houthi missiles. The higher the number of attacks, the higher the cost.
U.S. officials say it’s not just a matter of collecting interceptors now. Diplomatically resolve the Yemen crisis.