Greece to deliver Patriot missile system to Saudi Arabia after US withdrawal: reports

Greece to deliver Patriot missile system to Saudi Arabia after US withdrawal: reports
Greece is to send Patriot anti-aircraft missiles to Saudi Arabia as well as 120 men to work the weapons system, according to reports.
2 min read
14 September, 2021
The deal to deliver the missile systems was signed in April [Getty]

Greece is to send a battery of Patriot anti-aircraft missiles to Saudi Arabia and 120 men to operate the weapons systems, according to local Greek news outlet Ekathimerini.

The missiles will reportedly remain in the country for an undetermined period of time, and will be used to strengthen Saudi air defences. 

It comes after the US removed most of its Patriot missile batteries from the kingdom, according to reports.

The deal to provide Saudi Arabia with the missile batteries was signed in April, and hailed as a step forward in Greek-Gulf cooperation.

"This is a big step forward for our country regarding the cooperation with the Gulf countries and also a contribution to the wider security of the energy sources for the West," Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said. 

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When the Greek delivery of Patriot missiles systems was first announced, Dendias was quick to highlight the defensive nature of the weapons systems.

"But the Patriot missiles are not offensive weapons; they are defensive weapons. They are not directed against anyone. They defend one's airspace," Dendias said. 

The Greek delivery was a response to the drone attacks of September 2019, which targeted refineries at Saudi Arabia's public oil company Aramco, according to Ekathimerini

At the time of the attack, Greece's ministry of foreign affairs condemned the strikes, which were claimed by Houthi rebels in Yemen

"Greece unequivocally condemns the recent drone attack on oil facilities in the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. These attacks endanger the civilian population, violate the rules of International Law, and compromise security and stability in a very sensitive region," a Greek foreign ministry statement said. 

Greece's contribution of the Patriot systems is the latest sign of growing cooperation between Athens and Riyadh. 

In March, the Saudi Royal Air Force sent F-15 fighter jets to the Greek island of Crete, where they took part in the Eye of Falcon 1 exercises, over the Mediterranean Sea. 

Furthermore, Greece has sought to expand its cooperation with the UAE, which deployed fighter jets to Crete in August 2020. It came at a time when tensions between Greece and Turkey were rising following a dispute over maritime borders and offshore resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The New Arab has approached the Greek embassy in Riyadh for confirmation on the reports.