U.S. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency with Iran, that effectively bypasses congressional opposition to complete the sale of over an $8 billion weapons deal to the Islamic Republic’s regional rivals Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The White House alerted congressional committees on Friday of its intent to proceed with 22 military sales, which encompass precision-guided weapons, support for F-15 fighter jets and anti-tank missiles. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo underlined in a statement that the weapons are required by America’s partners in the Middle East to help deter Iran, and that the decision to circumvent Congress is meant to be a “one-time event.”
Furthermore, the Trump administration announced plans to deploy 1,500 additional troops to the region. The bolstered U.S. presence is set to include personnel manning missile defense systems, an additional squadron of advanced bombers and B52 jets, and aerial surveillance to spot threats and engineers to fortify defences; following the previous expedited-deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft strike group to join the 5th Fleet off the Persian Gulf.
Meanwhile in Baghdad, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif vowed that the Islamic Republic “will defend itself against any military or economic aggression.” In a joint-press conference alongside his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed al-Hakim, the Iranian top diplomat asserted that if the Iranian people are ‘victimized,’ the Ayatollah regime will respond with “strength and resistance.” Minister Zarif also sought to reassure Iran’s neighbors of Tehran’s intentions, suggesting a non-aggression-pact to alleviate growing regional concerns.