[…] Biden took to the pages of The Washington Post to justify the trip in advance and outline what he sees as his administration’s wins in the Middle East, which he called ”more stable and secure than the one [his] administration inherited 18 months ago.” One of his successes, Biden wrote, has been keeping American soldiers out of conflicts: ”Next week, I will be the first president to visit the Middle East since 9/11 without U.S. troops engaged in a combat mission there,” he said. ”It’s my aim to keep it that way.”
That’s true on some level. Biden announced the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan last April, stuck to his August 31 deadline, and ended America’s longest war. It was an overdue move and one that undoubtedly helped spare U.S. soldiers from bloody conflict down the line.
But the Middle East is far larger than just Afghanistan, and so is America’s involvement in the region. In truth, U.S. troops are engaged in all sorts of activities there—not all of them peaceful.
Biden himself sent a letter to Congress last month to keep lawmakers ”informed about deployments of United States Armed Forces equipped for combat.” He outlined a bevy of activities involving American soldiers across the Middle East (many of which sound a lot like U.S. troops engaged in combat missions). ”No United States Armed Forces are in Afghanistan,” Biden noted, but they are ”working by, with, and through local partners to conduct operations against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria and against al-Qa’ida in Syria.” Some American soldiers remain ”in strategically significant locations in Syria to conduct operations” against terrorist threats there.
American military personnel are also ”deployed to Yemen to conduct operations against al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS.” Approximately 2,733 U.S. forces are present in Saudi Arabia, where they ”protect United States forces and interests in the region against hostile action by Iran and Iran-backed groups” and ”provide air and missile defense capabilities” to the kingdom. Nearly 3,000 American military personnel are in Jordan under the guise of helping to fight ISIS, and some are in Turkey doing the same. Läs artikel