Saudi Arabia is said to have allowed the United States
to deploy troops and aircraft near the Iraqi border.
Saudi opposition sources in London and Washington quoted witnesses as
saying that up to thousands of U.S. soldiers have arrived the Iraqi-Saudi
border over the last week. The sources said the U.S. military has taken over
an airport in the area.
The Washington-based Saudi Information Agency reported that hundreds of
American troops are in control of Araar airport. The facility is 15
kilometers from the Iraqi border.
The agency quoted a Saudi witness who was traveling through Araar, Middle East Newsline reported. The
witness said he saw dozens of U.S. soldiers moving through the airport,
which remained open for Saudis.
"The Americans are controlling the airport," the witness said.
The Saudi opposition said the United States sent Galaxy transport
aircraft loaded with heavy military equipment to Saudi Arabia. The
opposition said the aircraft landed in Araar over the last week.
On Monday, another Saudi opposition group, the London-based Movement of
Islamic Reforms in Arabia, said that thousands of U.S. troops landed at the
Saudi air base at Tabouk over the last week. Tabouk is also located near the
border with Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Neither U.S. nor Saudi officials confirmed the report by opposition
sources. Riyad has pledged not to participate in any war against Iraq.
Saudi opposition sources said the U.S. use of the kingdom's air bases
appears to be part of a deal to exclude Riyad from a State Department list
of major violators of religious freedom. Such a determination would have
resulted in U.S. sanctions on Saudi Arabia.
"The decision not to list Saudi Arabia is apparently linked to Saudi
acceptance to use the airbases in Kharaj and Araar against Iraq," the Saudi
Information Agency said on Wednesday.