Report: Saudi Arabia Not Inclined to Let US Launch Air War from its Soil

Published September 22nd, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Saudi Arabia is resisting US requests to launch an air war against terrorists from its soil in response to the September 11 terror attacks on the United States, the Washington Post reported Saturday, citing unnamed defense officials. 

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has been lobbying for a change in the Saudi policy refusing to let the US launch such operations from military bases within its territory, the daily said, adding that the Pentagon is simultaneously exploring options for basing its operations elsewhere. The officials did not specify where that might be. 

"Obviously it's easier to go into a place where you're already set up," Anthony Zinni, a retired Marine general who formerly led US military operations in the Middle East, told the Post. "But we have really worked to make our capability expeditionary and can set up fairly quickly" at other bases, he said. 

The Pentagon refused to comment Saturday on whether Saudi officials had refused to allow US military forces to use the Combined Air Operations Center at Prince Sultan Air Base, some 110 kilometers southeast of Riyadh, with a spokesman telling AFP he could not discuss any "operational details." 

The State Department also declined to comment on the matter, but a department official told the Post that Saudi authorities had been rather cooperative. 

"We've gotten everything we've asked for from the Saudis, and we're very pleased with their cooperation," Greg Sullivan, a spokesman for the State Department's bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, told the newspaper -- WASHINGTON (AFP)

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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