Claim it was behind Saudi oil attacks, says ready for war

Darnell Taylor
September 16, 2019

Saudi Arabia's oil production was cut by half after a swarm of explosive drones struck at the heart of the kingdom's energy industry and set the world's biggest crude-processing plant ablaze - an attack blamed on Iran by the top USA diplomat.

President Donald Trump says the USA has reason to believe it knows who was behind the attack on Saudi Arabian energy facilities and is "locked and loaded" depending on verification and other issues.

The drone attacks by Iran-backed Houthi fighters on Saudi Arabia's state-owned Aramco oil facilities have curtailed production of crude oil and gas of the world's top exporter by half.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directly blamed Iran for the attacks in a set of tweets on Saturday, writing: "Tehran is behind almost 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy".

The Saudi interior ministry had confirmed that the attacks caused fires at the two facilities.

Some Iraqi media outlets, as well as Middle East Eye, said the attack came from there.

During the weekend, the International Energy Agency stressed that global markets would not be disrupted by the Saudi attacks.

Washington has also released new evidence to back up its allegation that Iran was responsible for the assault amid heightened tensions over Tehran's collapsing nuclear deal.

Oil prices fell on Friday, with Brent crude, the global price benchmark slipping 0.3% to close at $60.22 per barrel. It just edges out the 5.6 million-barrels-a-day disruption around the time of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, according to the IEA.

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She also did not rule out a possible meeting between US President Donald Trump and Iran's leader, Hassan Rouhani, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in NY, but said the attack on the Aramco facilities "did not help" that prospect.

France, condemning Saturday's attack, said such actions "can only worsen regional tensions and risk of conflict".

A Saudi-led coalition has been battling Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen for over four years, with the Houthi's carrying out several cross-border missile and drone attacks.

However, higher oil prices could add to the struggles facing the global economy.

USA crude oil jumped $5.61 per barrel, or 10.2%, to $60.46 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Two other analysts told CNN Business they believe prices could jump $15 per barrel because of the amount of Saudi oil affected by the attacks.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has received a telephone call from President Donald Trump in the wake of a Houthi rebel drone attack on Saudi oil facilities.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned Saturday's attacks and called on all parties to exercise restraint and prevent any escalation. And in a world already concerned about supply, the impact of another attack could mean a sharp effect on prices, said Kevin Book, managing director of Clearview Energy Partners.

Already, there have been mysterious attacks on oil tankers that the USA blames on Tehran, at least one suspected Israeli strike on Shi'ite forces in Iraq, and Iran shooting down a United States military surveillance drone.

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