F-16A Fighting Falcon, F-15C Eagle and F-15E Strike Eagle fighter aircraft fly over burning oil field sites in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. (U.S. Air Force archive photo.)

War on the Horizon? Iran Blamed for Oil Field Attacks

United Nations pointed to Iran after Houthi rebels initially claim Saudi Aramco attacks.
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United Nations pointed to Iran after Houthi rebels initially claim Saudi Aramco attacks

On Sept. 14, drones attacked two of Saudi Aramco’s oil plants and the United States quickly pointed fingers at Iran as the perpetrator, sending military aid to Saudi Arabia.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels initially claimed the attack as their own, reporting that they sent missiles from Yemen, but U.S. Secretary of State and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo were adamant that Iran was to blame for the attacks on the Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities. Pompeo commented on the incident during an episode of CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“No reasonable person doubts precisely who conducted these strikes,” Pompeo said. “And it is the intelligence community’s determination that it is likely the case that these were launched from Iran.”

Iran drew global attention by targeting Saudi Arabia, the world’s oil exportation leader. In an interview on 60 Minutes, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman put the attack in context.

“This attack didn’t hit the heart of the Saudi energy industry, but rather the heart of the global energy industry,” Bin Salman said. “It disrupted 5.5% of the world’s energy needs; the needs of the U.S. and China and the whole world.”

Iran and Saudi Arabia both continue to try to gain influence in the Middle East, and the ongoing conflict in Yemen proves that while they may not want full-scale war, neither side fears conflict.

After meeting with President Donald Trump and his national security team, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper explained Trump’s approval of military support in response to Iran’s aggression during a press conference at the Pentagon.

CNN’s coverage of US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Gen. Joseph Dunford announcing the United States sending troops to Saudi Arabia.

“It is clear based on detailed exploitation conducted by Saudi, United States and other international investigative teams that the weapons used in the attack were Iranian-produced, and were not launched from Yemen as was initially claimed,” Esper said. “All indications are that Iran was responsible for the attack.”

Esper added that in response to the attacks and a Saudi call for help, the U.S. will deploy defensive forces focused on air and missile defense.

At the United Nations General Assembly, the leaders of Germany, France and the U.K. released a joint statement concurring with the U.S.

“It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack,” the statement said. “There is no other plausible explanation. We support ongoing investigations to establish further detail.”

Trump said the U.S. also employed economic measures against Iran.

“We have just sanctioned the Iranian National Bank,” Trump said. “That is their central banking system and it’s going to be at the highest level of sanctions.”

CBS News coverage of Trump’s announcement of new Iran sanctions on national bank.

However, President of Iran Hassan Rouhani has denied Iran’s fault. Rouhani called the attack a retaliation from Yemen for unwanted outside influence.

“The people of Yemen are forced to respond to all the violations and the flood of weapons from U.S. and Europe toward Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” Rouhani said in a televised press conference in Ankara. “They cannot show legitimate defense in the face of their country being destroyed.”

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