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U.S.-Iran tensions

Possibility of Iran conflict spurred U.S. military to try to expand access in Saudi Arabia

The possibility of conflict with Iran prompted the U.S. military to begin using several extra ports and bases in Saudi Arabia for the first time over the course of the last year, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The decision appears geared toward expanding the ability to operate militarily and complicating Iran's options in Saudi Arabia should tensions with Tehran, which is at odds with both Washington and Riyadh, boil over in the future. "What it does is to give us options, and options are always a good thing for a commander to have," Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, told the Journal.

McKenzie explained that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are negotiating infrastructure plans for the coastal port of Yanbu as well as two air bases to make them more usable for the U.S. military. He said additional sites that have not been revealed are under consideration.

As the Journal notes, the Biden administration has promised to take a tougher stance on human rights issues within Saudi Arabia, but the military base expansion effort — which began under the Trump administration — suggests Washington will continue to count Saudi Arabia as a key ally. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.