- Both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have placed the blame on Iran for last Saturday’s attack that stopped half of the country’s crude production
- Iran maintains their innocence and has dismissed any responsibility for the attacks
- Mark Esper announced on Friday the U.S. would be deploying troops to assist the Saudis with defensive capabilities
On Friday it was announced the U.S. is preparing to deploy troops to Saudi Arabia following an attack on Saudi Aramco on September 14. Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have placed blame for the attack on Iran but have yet to present evidence to back the claim.
It is reported that 25 drones and missiles were used in the attack that shut down half the country’s oil production. The Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities were both hit during the attack. The attack temporarily stopped the production of 5.7 million barrels of crude oil a day and raised concerns over global oil supply stability. Crude prices spiked by double digits following the attack.
Officials stated within 24 hours of the attack 30% of the Khurais facility was back up and running. Khurais is expected to be back at full production by the end of September. At the Abqaiq facility workers managed to get 2 million barrels per day (bpd) back online within 48 hours of the attack. Abqaiq is expecting to be back at their normal output by the end of September. Officials believe the country will be back to their full capacity of 12 million bpd by November.
A statement from the kingdom claims “initial investigation have indicated that the weapons used in the attack were Iranian weapons.” The statement welcomed the United Nations and “international experts” to come and “view the situation on the ground and to participate in the investigations.” The kingdom claims to have the “capability and resolve to defend its land and people, and to forcefully respond to these aggressions.”
Iran Dismisses Responsibility For The Attack
Iran’s Foreign Ministry has dismissed the accusations that they were behind the attack on Saturday. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi called the accusation a “maximum falsification” that “ignored logic.” Mousavi went on to say the comments and measures from America are “akin to the plots hatched by secret and intelligence services for damaging the image of a state to prepare the ground for a series of [hostile] measures in [the] future.”
In international relations, even ‘hostility’ [should have] a minimum degree of credibility and logical frameworks, but the U.S. officials have ignored even such minimum principles.
Such [American] comments and measures are more akin to the plots hatched by secret and intelligence services for damaging the image of a state to prepare the ground for a series of [hostile] measures in [the] future.Abbas Mousavi Via Newsweek
Houthi Rebels Claim Responsibility For The Attack
Yemen’s Tehran-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attacks in Saudi Arabia. In a video from Saturday’s attack uploaded to Twitter by Ahmad Algohbary you can hear a loud explosion as fire lights the night sky. The clip is 16-seconds long and one of many to be uploaded to social media.
Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo
On Saturday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quick to push the blame solely on Iran before any supporting evidence had been presented. In a tweet, Pompeo claimed Tehran is “behind 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia” before stating “Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”
Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 14, 2019
Jamal Abdi Claims Pompeo’s Assessment Cannot Be Trusted
Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, told Newsweek that Pompeo’s assessment of the attack should not be trusted. Abdi said Pompeo’s comments “seem aimed at obscuring whether there is evidence of Iranian involvement.” He went on to accuse Pompeo of falsely attempting to tie Iran to the 9/11 attacks “in order to justify potential war.”
While the relationship between the U.S. and Iran have been tense for decades, things have escalated under the Trump administration after destroying what little improvement was made during the Obama administration. The struggling relationship between the two countries was all but destroyed following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran Nuclear Deal which was initially signed by former President Barack Obama in coordination with Iran, the European Union, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China. During a press conference on Friday, Trump briefly addressed the situation with Iran.
Javad Zarif Warns Of “All-Out War”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has warned it will be an “all-out war” if the U.S. or Saudi military attacks his country. Zarif told CNN he hoped to avoid conflict and would be willing to talk to regional rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. However, Zarif said Iran would not hold talks with the U.S. unless Washington gave full relief from sanctions as promised under the 2015 nuclear deal. Zarif maintains Iran’s innocence in Saturday’s attacks.
While Zarif says the Houthi rebels have increased their military capabilities and are capable of conducting such an attack, he also claimed he has not seen any evidence of them conducting such a sophisticated operation. Both U.S. and Saudi officials have dismissed the Houthi rebels claims of responsibility for the attack and continue to place the blame on Iran.
I cannot have any confidence that they did it because we just heard their statement. I know that we didn’t do it. I know that the Houthis made a statement that they did it.Javad Zarif Via CNN
In a tweet on Friday, Zarif accused the Saudis of not even believing the “fiction of Iranian involvement” in the attack. Zarif claims the Saudi regime retaliated against Hodaideh in Yemen prior to the tweet.
Since the Saudi regime has blamed Iran—baseless as that is—for the attacks on its oil facilities, curious that they retaliated against Hodaideh in Yemen today—breaking a UN ceasefire. It is clear that even the Saudis themselves don't believe the fiction of Iranian involvement.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 21, 2019
Mark Esper Says U.S. To Deploy Troops
During a Pentagon briefing on Friday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters the U.S. is now preparing to deploy troops to the Middle East as a response to what has already been deemed an Iran-based attack. The decision to deploy an undecided amount of troops was made following a meeting with top Pentagon officials and the National Security Council on Friday afternoon.
According to Esper, the “Iranian regime is waging a deliberate campaign to destabilize the Middle East and impose costs on the international economy.” Esper claims in recent months Iran has increased military activity with direct attacks and by giving support to its proxies in the region. Iran is accused of threatening safe passage of ships through the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman — two vital waterways in global commerce — after illegally seizing a British oil tanker.
Esper also told reporters Iran is “perpetuating war by providing sustained financial support and advanced weapons to the Houthi insurgency.” During the briefing, Esper mentioned Iran shooting down an unmanned American drone on June 20 that was traveling over international water. He wwent on to refer to the September 14 attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities a “dramatic escalation of Iranian aggression.” Esper claims that based on “detailed exploitation” by the U.S., Saudi, and other international investigative teams the weapons used in the attack were Iranian made and not launched from Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have requested international support to assist in protecting the kingdom’s critical infrastructure. Esper has stated it is America’s “responsibility to protect our citizens and our interests in the region, and the international community has a responsibility to protect the global economy and international rules and norms.” With Saudi Arabia being responsible for producing 10% of the world’s oil supply, the attack temporarily stopped 5% of the global supply.
Trump has approved for troops to be deployed, but according to Esper the United States is not seeking conflict with Iran. The Saudis have reportedly requested help in providing enhanced defensive capabilities. At this time Esper said there has not been a decision made on specific units. When asked if thousands of troops would be deployed, Esper suggested that would not be the case but did state there could be additional deployments as needed based on a possible “changing situation.”