Tensions in the Middle East soared on Sunday, with U.S. President Donald Trump warning on Twitter that the United States “has reason to believe we know” who is responsible for a crippling attack on a Saudi oil field on Saturday and is “locked and loaded pending verification.”
Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2019
On Saturday, a series of coordinated drone attacks against two Saudi Aramco oil facilities caused a massive fire, halving the kingdom’s oil production and disrupting some 5% of the global oil supply.
The attack was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, but U.S. officials have accused Iran of being behind it. Tehran has been backing the Houthis in Yemen’s civil war, while Saudi Arabia has bolstered Yemen’s government.
“Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”
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
According to the officials, satellite imagery and other intelligence showed at least 19 points of impact at the two Saudi energy facilities and seemed to indicate that the strike was not launched from Yemen, but rather from the north, from Iran or Iraq.
Some of the drones used in the attack had failed to reach their targets and were recovered northwest of the oil facilities, according to U.S. officials.
Trump’s tweet on Sunday came after a National Security Council meeting which included Vice President Mike Pence, Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi called the accusations against Iran “maximum lies,” while Iraq denied its territory was used to carry out the attack.
As a result of the strike, crude oil futures shot up 9.5% to $60 when trading opened in New York on Sunday evening.
Saudi Arabia said it would make up for production by releasing some of its reserves, but it is unclear how long it will take to return the sites to full function. The United States has also approved the release of some petroleum reserves if necessary.
The commander of Iran’s Aerospace Force Amirali Hajizadeh, in an interview widely broadcast in Iran, warned America against a military response, saying, “Wherever they are, it only takes one spark and we hit their vessels, their air bases, their troops.”
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