U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (C-R) is greeted by Saudi Armed Forces Chief of Joint Staff General Abdul Rahman Al Banyan (C-L) upon his arrival at the Riyadh Air Base on April 18, 2017. / AFP / POOL / JONATHAN ERNST
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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is in Saudi Arabia Wednesday to reinvigorate the Riyadh-Washington alliance, with both seeing a common adversary in Iran and its "destabilizing" activities.Bordering Saudi Arabia, Yemen has been torn for more than two years by a civil war between Iran-backed Houthi rebels, their allies, and pro-government forces aided by a Saudi-led military coalition that receives some military support from the U.S.The Saudis have found a more favorable ear in Washington under Trump, who denounces Iran's "harmful influence" in the Middle East.Pentagon officials have so far remained cautious on what they might do to support Saudi Arabia.Trump could also decide to reinforce support for the Arab coalition in Yemen, even if his administration wants the return "as quickly as possible" of UN-backed peace talks, as Mattis said at the start of his Saudi trip.Mattis is expected to evoke with the Saudis Washington's intentions towards Syria, where Riyadh has aided some rebel groups.
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