Sunday, 20 October, 2019

Pompeo says USA backs Saudi Arabia's 'right to defend itself'

Smoke is seen following a fire at an Aramco factory in Abqaiq Saudi Arabia Sept. 14 2019 in this FILE- Smoke is seen following a fire at an Aramco facility in Abqaiq Saudi Arabia Sept. 14 2019 in this
Ginger Lawrence | 19 September, 2019, 13:06

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, blaming Washington and Tehran for a war in Yemen. Besides, a precise, coordinated, and complex operation would have required vast expertise in the oil industry and intelligence about Saudi Arabian infrastructure far exceeding the capability of Houthi forces. The Houthis claimed responsibility for this attack.

Le Drian linked the timing of the strikes to next week's UN General Assembly in NY, where a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani had been mooted.

The Abqaiq facility refines crude oil from fields such as Khurais and the mega-field Ghawar, among the largest in the world. In 2006, al-Qaeda attempted a failed suicide attack on Abqaiq with explosive-laden vehicles.

Saudi Arabia has rushed to restore capacity to its oil infrastructure, pledging to fulfill orders despite the attacks.

Some US allies, as well as those of Iran, have asked for the proof behind accusations Tehran was responsible for the attack that cut five percent of global production. And what does it portend for a situation that was already one small crisis away from a very serious Middle East war?

On 16 October 1987, a Chinese-made Silkworm missile hit a Kuwaiti oil tanker under USA protection. Iran has rejected U.S. claims it was behind the strikes.

After enduring a crippling Saudi air campaign since 2015, the Houthis definitely have a motive.

IRNA separately reported Wednesday that Iran's first delegation for the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting had not left Iran because the US has yet to issue them visas. The drone flew more than 800km into Saudi territory.

Trump's comments came less than an hour after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the weekend strike "an act of war" that was an "Iranian attack" on Saudi Arabia, while speaking to reporters before landing in the kingdom.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan told Deutschlandfunk radio Thursday it's not yet clear where the attacks originated but "Iran is definitely behind them". Using these non-state actors, one state, Iran, might have affected the global price of oil and the policies of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

FILE- Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves during ceremony attended by Iranian clerics in Tehran
FILE- Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves during ceremony attended by Iranian clerics in Tehran

Even Saudi Arabia's leadership was initially reluctant to publicly point a finger directly at Iran - although on Wednesday, they produced parts of missiles and drones that they say were made by Iran.

But any firm and strong collective reaction must greatly change the equation and make Iran consider a thousand times before repeating such attacks against world security and stability. "This would justify a higher risk premium on the oil price".

First, the disaster exposed Saudi Arabia as extremely vulnerable to attack, despite owning billions of dollars of some the world's most advanced weaponry.

The U.S. provides intelligence and surveillance support to the Saudi military, but that, too, has its limitations. But while major United States oil firms would reap windfall profits, if rising oil prices spur a recession, it will hurt Trump's chances for re-election.

"In the past few months alone, the Iranian regime has deployed their regional proxies to stage sabotage attacks against shipping in the Persian Gulf".

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump said he ordered a major increase in sanctions on Iran, but gave no details. Both Iran and Iraq are to the north of Saudi Arabia.

Trump and the Saudis sowed chaos.

The "maximum pressure" campaign conceived by the Trump administration and encouraged by Arab and Israeli leaders has failed to reduce that threat.

He said France is talking to "everyone in the region" as it pushes for a diplomatic solution instead of a new military conflict.

Oil drops sharply as Saudi output seen returning soon after attacks
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani alongside the leaders of Russian Federation and Turkey, in a news conference in Ankara. This should help to further minimize the impacts of the attacks on consumers.