Riyadh could also be excluded from drills and regional conferences over its reluctance to increase oil output, sources claim
A Patriot missile battery deployed near Prince Sultan air base in Saudi Arabia. © AFP / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds
The Biden administration is considering rolling back military aid to Saudi Arabia as punishment for the decision by OPEC, which is de-facto led by Riyadh, to reduce oil production, US officials have told the news network NBC.
The measures could include a freeze on the delivery of Patriot missiles to Saudi Arabia, the broadcaster reported on Saturday. The $3 billion deal, under which Riyadh would have received 300 Patriot MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical Ballistic Missiles (GEM-T), was approved by Washington in August. It is seen as crucial for the Saudis to resupply missiles for their Patriot launchers, as the country is being targeted by frequent missile and drone attack from Houthi rebels in Yemen, in response to a long-running bombing campaign by Riyadh.
Another option on the agenda is excluding the kingdom from upcoming military drills and regional conferences, including those dedicated to attempts by the US and its allies to create a joint air defense system in the region, the sources said.
However, two US officials and another informed source pointed out that no decision has yet been made in Washington. Much will depend on the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) summit in December, they said, adding that if the meeting leads to an increase in production, the Saudis could avoid US retaliation altogether.