From Oil Tankers to Facilities: Saudi’s Aramco under Fire

Submitted by Pia Podieh on Tue, 10/01/2019 - 14:07

On 24 September, 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly, President Donald Trump stated that “One of the greatest security threats facing peace loving nations today is the repressive regime in Iran”. This statement comes in the midst of heightened tension, following the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities on 14 September, 2019. The drone attacks, which according to the Kingdom consisted of 18 drones and seven cruise missiles, hit two of the country's main oil facilities which cut the supply output in half and ramped up oil prices by 15 percent . On the same day, Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi rebels claimed the attack stating that “these attacks are our right and we warn the Saudis that our targets will keep expanding”.


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However, on 15 September, 2019 the US accused Iran of being behind the attacks based on the limited capabilities of the Houthis, and defined the attacks as an “act of war” for which the US was “locked and loaded” to react. While Saudi Arabia remained cautious with its accusations, the Kingdom's defense ministry stated at a press briefing that “evidence showed the attacks were launched from the north and were unquestionably sponsored by Iran”.The Kingdom remains cautious over the launch point of the missiles. Confronted with these accusations, Iran continues to deny its involvement and highlighted that there was no reason not to believe the Houthis, as the Saudi's involvement in the war in Yemen “has brought nothing but the killing of innocent people”.President Hasan Rouhani defined the attacks as an act of self-defence by the Yemenis against the Saudi's involvement in the Yemeni civil war.


Additionally, the president denied that the inscription of 'Ya-Ali' on the missiles was proof of Iranian involvement, due to Shia representation in countries such as Iraq and Yemen.
Despite Iran's continuous denial, at the beginning of this week, Germany, the UK and France issued a joint statement holding Iran responsible for the attacks. Prime Minister Boris Johnson further suggested that the UK would be willing to take part in a US-led military efforts to ensure Saudi Arabia's defense in the Gulf. Following the attack, the US sent one Patriot missile defense battery along with four ground-based Sentinel radars, which was accompanied by 200 support personnel to Saudi Arabia. Iran reacted to the allegations by warning that it would “retaliate against any attacks” and that the US was using the attacks as a “pretext to conquer the [Middle East] region”.