The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) scrambled fighter jets from a base in the Persian Gulf and directed them towards Iran, after Saudi Arabia learned that the Islamic Republic was planning on launching an imminent attack on the Gulf kingdom.
According to a Wall Street Journal report from November 1, which was confirmed by CENTCOM, Riyadh informed Washington that there was a looming Iranian UAV or ballistic missile attack which would be carried out against Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
In response, CENTCOM launched warplanes towards Iran, which appeared to stop Tehran from following through on the attack.
Although CENTCOM confirmed that the scrambling occurred, an official would not reveal from which base the jets were launched, nor other pertinent information about the high-level incident.
“CENTCOM is committed to our long-standing strategic military partnership with Saudi Arabia,” spokesperson Joe Buccio told the Washington Post on Saturday. “We will not discuss operation details.”
Notably, the U.S. support of Saudi Arabia comes at a time of heightened tensions between the two nations. After U.S. president Joe Biden pledged to make the Gulf kingdom a “global pariah” due to its human rights record, specifically mentioning the slaying of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, relations soured.
The Biden administration’s decision to remove the Yemen-based Houthi rebel group from its list of officially designated terror groups also irked Saudi Arabia, as the organization has launched repeated deadly attacks on the Gulf kingdom’s oil refineries and ports.
Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company declined to step up production, leading to Biden to say that the Gulf kingdom would face “consequences” for refusing to obey his economic directive.
Biden’s threat was not received warmly by the Saudis. Prince Saud al-Shaalan, a cousin of the kingdom’s ruler, issued a warning to “anybody that challenges the existence of this country and this kingdom – all of us, we are products of jihad, and martyrdom. That’s my message to anybody that thinks that it can threaten us.”