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Westlake Legal Group > Drones (Pilotless Planes)

The Urgent Search for a Cyber Silver Bullet Against Iran

WASHINGTON — After spending billions of dollars to assemble the world’s most potent arsenal of cyberweapons and plant them in networks around the world, United States Cyber Command — and the new era of warfighting it has come to represent — may face a critical test in the coming weeks.

President Trump is considering a range of options to punish Iran for this month’s attack on Saudi oil facilities, and has toughened sanctions on Iran and ordered the deployment of additional troops to the region. But a second cyberstrike — after one launched against Iran just three months ago — has emerged as the most appealing course of action for Mr. Trump, who is reluctant to widen the conflict in a region he has said the United States should leave, according to senior American officials.

But even as the Pentagon considers specific targets — an attempt to shut down Iran’s oil fields and refineries has been one of the “proportionate responses” under review — a broader debate is taking place inside and outside the administration over whether a cyberattack alone will be enough to alter Iran’s calculations, and what kind of retaliation a particularly damaging cyberstrike might provoke.

“The president talked about our use of those previously, but I’m certainly not going to forecast what we’ll do as we move forward,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” when asked whether a cyberattack might be an artful, non-escalatory response to this month’s drone or missile strikes on two of Saudi Arabia’s most important facilities. “This was Iran true and true, and the United States will respond in a way that reflects that act of war by this Iranian revolutionary regime.”

Mr. Pompeo noted that the American military was already sending additional troops to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, largely to bolster air defenses. But those moves alone are viewed as unlikely to be enough to prevent further Iranian actions.

The question circulating now through the White House, the Pentagon and Cyber Command’s operations room is whether it is possible to send a strong message of deterrence with a cyberattack without doing so much damage that it would prompt an even larger Iranian counterstrike.

At least three times over the past decade, the United States has staged major cyberattacks against Iran, intended to halt its nuclear or missile programs, punish the country or send a clear message to its leadership that it should end its support for proxy militant groups.

In each case, the damage to Iranian systems could be repaired over time. And in each case, the effort to deter Iran was at best only partly successful. If the American charge that Iran was behind the attack in Saudi Arabia proves accurate, it would constitute the latest example of Tehran shaking off a cyberattack and continuing to engage in the kind of behavior the United States had hoped to deter.

The most famous and complex effort was a sophisticated sabotage campaign a decade ago to blow up Iran’s nuclear enrichment center using code, not bombs. The Obama administration later began a program, accelerated by Mr. Trump, to try to use cyberattacks to slow Iran’s missile development. And this past June, Mr. Trump approved a clandestine operation to destroy a key database used by the Iranian military to target oil-carrying ships — and canceled a traditional missile strike he had ordered to respond to the downing of an American surveillance drone.

The June cyberattack, according to two American officials, also did damage that Iran has not yet detected.

“Cyber can certainly be a deterrent, it can be a very powerful weapon,” said Senator Angus King, the Maine independent who is a chairman of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, created by Congress, that is examining American offensive cyberstrategy. “It is an option that can cause real damage.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161011344_fb46845c-6f82-4935-937c-bd1b2058e16a-articleLarge The Urgent Search for a Cyber Silver Bullet Against Iran United States Defense and Military Forces United States Cyber Command Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia refineries Nuclear Weapons National Security Agency Iran Drones (Pilotless Planes) Defense Department Cyberwarfare and Defense Computers and the Internet

A Saudi military spokesman during a recent news conference in Riyadh displaying what he said were pieces of Iranian cruise missiles that hit the kingdom’s oil fields.CreditFayez Nureldine/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. King and other experts said Iran would most likely respond to a cyberattack with one of its own, given the vulnerabilities that exist in the United States and the hyper-connected nature of American life.

But current and former intelligence officials say a cycle of retaliation need not be confined to one military domain. Just as the United States responded in June to the Iranian downing of a drone and sabotage of oil tankers with a cyberattack, Iran could respond to an American cyberoperation with a terrorist attack by a proxy force or a missile strike.

The Pentagon has long held that a cyberattack could constitute an act of war that requires a physical response, and there is no reason to think that Iran would not pursue the same policy.

One senior administration official recently acknowledged that even Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, the commander of Cyber Command and the director of the National Security Agency, has warned Mr. Trump and his aides that the cyberarsenal is “no magic bullet” for deterring Iranian aggression in the Middle East.

In war games — essentially online simulations — held before the attack on the Saudi oil fields, officials have tried to figure out how Iran’s increasingly skillful “cyber corps” would respond to an American cyberattack. These Iranian fighters have already racked up a significant record: wiping out 30,000 computers at Saudi Aramco, freezing operations at American banks with a “denial of service” attack, and crippling a Las Vegas casino. Last year, they began to study the ins and outs of election interference, according to private experts and government studies of the 2018 midterms.

When General Nakasone was nominated for his job, he acknowledged that one of the biggest problems facing Cyber Command was that it had not cracked the deterrence problem. Nations that are attacking the United States via cyber “do not think much will happen to them,” he told Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska. “They don’t fear us.”

In his first 18 months in office, General Nakasone has raced to bolster Cyber Command’s authority to act preemptively — and its preparations to respond to attacks. New, classified directives given to him by Mr. Trump, and built upon by Congress, allow Cyber Command to place “implants” of malicious software inside foreign networks without lengthy approval processes that run up to the president. Congress has called such efforts part of “traditional military authority.”

Iran has reportedly been a major target — no surprise, since General Nakasone was a key player in designing a plan called “Nitro Zeus” to shut down Tehran and other Iranian cities in the event of a war. The idea was to put together an attack so devastating that Iran might surrender without a shot being fired.

The 2015 nuclear agreement between the Iranian leadership and President Barack Obama eased the threat of war, and the American cyberoperations plan was put back on the shelf, at least until recently.

At the Pentagon, and even at Cyber Command, many senior officers are cautious about cyberwarfare, arguing that it is difficult for such weapons alone to deter an enemy.

The attack using the “Stuxnet” virus that crippled Iranian nuclear-enrichment centrifuges a decade ago was successful in a narrow sense: It blew up 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges up and running at the time. But when it recovered, Iran built upward of 14,000 more, and counterattacked by crippling Saudi Aramco’s computer systems.

Iran’s Salman oil field. Shutting down Iran’s oil fields and refineries would not be easy, and even if it worked, there is no assurance that conflict with Iran would not escalate.CreditAli Mohammedi/Bloomberg

A long-running series of cyberattacks has slowed but not stopped Iran’s missile program — and Iran has continued to provide thousands of short-range rockets to Hamas and other terrorist groups. The Saudis are studying whether a new generation of Iranian-made missiles were central to this month’s attack on its oil facilities.

The Pentagon and other military officials have told the White House that neither another cyberattack nor the new deployment announced Friday will likely prove robust enough to re-establish deterrence and prevent another attack by Iran on United States allies.

Part of the problem is that most cyberactivity is clandestine, so it is easy for a government to play down the consequences of an attack or deny it even took place.

But some people who favor stepping up cyberoperations suggest that officials are simply thinking too small. If a cyberstrike is damaging enough — taking a refinery offline or shutting down an electric grid, for example — it would be hard to hide. That might have a much more deterrent effect than the smaller bore operations the United States has undertaken so far, they argue.

But such a devastating cyberoperation would also increase the risk of escalation — just as a bombing run on the oil refineries would. Iran, or any other adversary, could claim that people were killed or injured, and that might be difficult to disprove.

A key element of deterrence is ensuring that an adversary understands the other side’s basic capabilities. Unlike nuclear weapons, though, which are widely understood, the American cyberarsenal is shrouded in secrecy, for fear adversaries will develop counter measures if even basic capabilities are known.

General Nakasone has argued that his cyberwarriors must be roaming cyberspace “persistently engaging” enemies — a euphemism for skirmishing with adversaries inside their networks.

“We must ‘defend forward’ in cyberspace, as we do in the physical domains,” he wrote in a Defense Department publication in January. “Our naval forces do not defend by staying in port, and our air power does not remain at airfields. They patrol the seas and skies to ensure they are positioned to defend our country before our borders are crossed. The same logic applies in cyberspace.”

But there is a growing consensus within Cyber Command that if cyberweapons are going to shape the actions of adversaries, they must be used in combination with other elements of power, including economic sanctions, diplomacy or traditional military strikes.

Mr. King, the Maine senator, sees the decisions over the next few weeks on Iran as a test case. “The president’s instinct is not to get in a shooting war, and I think he is right about that,” he said. “So the question is how do we respond?”

He argued that there was no urgency. “This was not a strike on New York City,” Mr. King said. “This was not even a strike on Riyadh. There needs to be a response. But there is time to pause and take a deep breath and consider all of the options — one of which is cyber — but also to think about how we de-escalate the situation.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf

The oil-rich monarchies of the Persian Gulf have relied for decades on the promise of protection by the United States military, a commitment sealed by the rollback of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and reinforced by a half dozen American military bases that sprang up around the region.

Now that commitment is facing its most serious test since the first gulf war: an attack last Saturday by a swarm of at least 17 missiles and drones that crippled Saudi Arabia’s most critical oil installation and temporarily knocked out 5 percent of the world’s oil supply.

Washington and Riyadh blamed Iran, despite its denials, and President Trump threatened that the United States was “locked and loaded.” Yet despite months of such bravado, Mr. Trump has been hesitant to take military action that might risk an expanded conflagration. For better or worse, such a muted response could signal another turning point for the region.

“It is enormous,” said Gregory Gause, a scholar of the region at Texas A&M University. “This is the most serious challenge since the invasion of Kuwait to the status of the United States as a great power that would protect the free flow of energy from the region, and unless there is a big change in the response from the Trump administration I think Gulf leaders will start to question the value of that security commitment.”

Confounding expectations on all sides of the Persian Gulf, the attack and its aftermath have laid bare a cascade of revelations about the regional balance of power.

The stunning success of the attack has shown that billions of dollars in Saudi military spending has left the kingdom’s central industry vulnerable, and it has demonstrated to the world that the increasing availability of low-flying cruise missiles and drones may have rendered many other defense systems perilously obsolete.

It has also shown the world a new side of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the hard charging and often impulsive de facto ruler of the kingdom: He, too, has been forced in this case to back away from immediate retribution against his nemesis, Iran.

If Iran carried out the attack directly, as Washington and Riyadh say, then it has taken a brazen step beyond its familiar strategy of working through allied militant groups to strike at its foes, evidently surprising the White House.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161012769_abe13950-dc14-415d-8511-0fdc5722ac94-articleLarge Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf United States International Relations Saudi Arabia Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Nuclear Weapons Mohammed bin Salman (1985- ) Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Embargoes and Sanctions Drones (Pilotless Planes)

Debris from missiles that the Saudi government says were used in last weekend’s attack.CreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Seeking to exact a price from the United States for its sanctions on Iranian oil sales, Tehran may also now be emboldened to carry out further attacks, calculating that President Trump will balk at another war in the region. The attack on Saudi Arabia was just the latest in a string of recent attacks carried out by Iran or a proxy — including attacks on oil tankers and the downing of an American drone — with little or no cost to Iran.

And President Trump, focused on his re-election, has so far shown himself less willing to match Iran’s escalation than his ferocious tweets about “obliteration” and “the official end of Iran” had suggested. He recently fired the adviser most hawkish on Iran, John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser. And instead of emphasizing the traditional American interest in the free flow of oil, he appears to have returned to a view he espoused before his election — “Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars,” as he wrote in a tweet in 2014.

That Iran would seek in some way to attack Saudi oil production, though, was hardly unexpected. Experts had predicted for months that the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions against Iran’s oil sales would drive it to lash out against the oil production of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf States.

The rulers of those Arab states had previously accused President Obama of trying to pull back from the American commitment to the region. They faulted him for negotiating a 2015 deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions without further constraining its military or other activities. And the Gulf leaders were outraged when Mr. Obama called off a planned strike against Syria, an Iranian ally, for using chemical weapons against civilians.

Now some prominent voices in the Arab Gulf States accuse Mr. Trump of an even greater betrayal. “Trump, in his response to Iran, is even worse than Obama,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a prominent political scientist in the United Arab Emirates.

Instead of reversing the perceived pullback as Gulf leaders had expected, Mr. Abdulla argued, President Trump let down his Arab partners by failing to respond more forcefully to Iranian aggressions.

The United States has said that Iran was behind naval mines that damaged five oil tankers in the Persian Gulf this spring, and in June Iran boasted of shooting down an American surveillance drone. Yet President Trump did little in retaliation for the tanker attacks and called off a planned airstrike against Iran in response to the downing of the drone.

“His inaction gave a green light to this,” Mr. Abdulla said. “Now an Arab Gulf strategic partner has been massively attacked by Iran — which was provoked by Trump, not by us — and we hear Americans saying to us, you need to defend yourselves!”

The oil installation in the eastern city of Abqaiq burned after the attack.CreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

“It is an utter failure and utter disappointment in this administration,” he added.

Mr. Trump has not ruled out a military strike, and senior national security officials met Thursday to refine a list of potential targets should President Trump go that route. Still, he has made clear his opposition to another war, and has ordered new sanctions.

But Iran is already under acute economic pressure from the existing sanctions, which use the reach of the American financial system to try to choke off Iranian oil exports anywhere in the world. After pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration implemented the sweeping new penalties this spring to try to force Iran to accept a more restrictive agreement.

Iranian leaders have denounced the sanctions as “economic warfare,” and they appear to have orchestrated an escalating series of attacks that threaten the flow of Persian Gulf oil in order to inflict some of the same pain on the United States and Washington’s Arab allies.

“The Iranians do feel cornered,” Professor Gause said, and that is why they appear to be taking more aggressive action than they have in the past. “This is an effort by Iran to break out of what they see as strangulation.”

Defending the administration’s policies, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued this week that the sanctions may have limited Iran’s ability to strike with even more sophisticated missiles or drones.

“They’d have more complex ones but for the sanctions we put in place that have prevented them from getting access to money, most importantly, but also parts, spare parts, information technology,” he told reporters on a trip to Saudi Arabia.

Iranian leaders have denied responsibility for the attack last weekend, but at the same time they have openly reveled in its success. It showed the United States “that playing with the lion’s tail carries serious dangers and if they take action against Iran there will be no tomorrow for them,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp boasted Thursday, Iranian news media reported.

The Iranians may have previously worried about Mr. Trump’s threatening tweets and hawkish advisers, said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran scholar at Brookings Institution. “But now they see that he is not going to follow through on the bluff that he has carried out on behalf of the American people,” she said.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran this week. Iran may be emboldened to carry out further attacks, calculating that President Trump will balk at another war.CreditOffice of the Iranian Presidency

Others analysts argued that the alarms from the Persian Gulf about an American retreat were overblown under President Obama and remain so under President Trump. American warships are patrolling the gulf to help protect tanker traffic. American satellite and surveillance drones patrol the skies. The many large American military bases deter invasions or other large-scale military actions.

But President Trump’s combination of tough threats and a weak response “is the worst of both worlds,” argued Jeremy Shapiro, research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations and a former State Department official in the Obama administration.

“It would be foolish to counter this escalation with an escalation, but it was foolish to get into this position in the first place,” he argued, leaving the Trump administration “to choose between an unwise escalation or a humiliating climb-down.”

Experts on military technology said Saudi Arabia should not be faulted for failing to stop the attack. Like those of other countries, Saudi Arabia’s defenses were designed to stop ballistic missiles. This attack appears to have been carried out with low-flying cruise missiles or drones that would escape detection by most radar systems.

“I don’t think that there is any country that could have defended any better than Saudi Arabia did, and that includes the United States,” said Peter Roberts, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, an international research institute.

Yet the attack appears to have caused some rethinking by Crown Prince Mohammed.

Soon after he was first named defense minister, in 2015, he plunged the kingdom into a military campaign in neighboring Yemen to drive from power a faction backed by Iran. Saudi media outlets proclaimed that the prince was asserting the kingdom’s power and leading a new drive to roll back Iranian influence.

“The Iranians, they’re the cause of problems in the Middle East, but they are not a big threat to Saudi Arabia,” the prince boasted confidently to Time magazine in 2018. “Saudi Arabia’s economy is double the size of the Iranian economy,” he said, adding that Iran’s army was “not among the top five” in the Middle East.

“We will work so that the battle is for them in Iran, and not in Saudi Arabia,” he promised on a Saudi news channel.

Yet the damage to the oil installation was a painful lesson in the potential costs of a wider conflict, at a time when the Saudi military remains bogged down in Yemen and Prince Mohammed has been pushing for a public sale of the Saudi state oil company.

The Saudi decision to call for an international investigation and not immediate retribution may be the choice of a chastened prince, analysts said. “I think there has a been a calculation that the costs might be too high,” said Rebecca Wasser, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf

The oil-rich monarchies of the Persian Gulf have relied for decades on the promise of protection by the United States military, a commitment sealed by the rollback of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and reinforced by a half dozen American military bases that sprang up around the region.

Now that commitment is facing its most serious test since the first gulf war: an attack last Saturday by a swarm of at least 17 missiles and drones that crippled Saudi Arabia’s most critical oil installation and temporarily knocked out 5 percent of the world’s oil supply.

Washington and Riyadh blamed Iran, despite its denials, and President Trump threatened that the United States was “locked and loaded.” Yet despite months of such bravado, Mr. Trump has been hesitant to take military action that might risk an expanded conflagration. For better or worse, such a muted response could signal another turning point for the region.

“It is enormous,” said Gregory Gause, a scholar of the region at Texas A&M University. “This is the most serious challenge since the invasion of Kuwait to the status of the United States as a great power that would protect the free flow of energy from the region, and unless there is a big change in the response from the Trump administration I think Gulf leaders will start to question the value of that security commitment.”

Confounding expectations on all sides of the Persian Gulf, the attack and its aftermath have laid bare a cascade of revelations about the regional balance of power.

The stunning success of the attack has shown that billions of dollars in Saudi military spending has left the kingdom’s central industry vulnerable, and it has demonstrated to the world that the increasing availability of low-flying cruise missiles and drones may have rendered many other defense systems perilously obsolete.

It has also shown the world a new side of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the hard charging and often impulsive de facto ruler of the kingdom: He, too, has been forced in this case to back away from immediate retribution against his nemesis, Iran.

If Iran carried out the attack directly, as Washington and Riyadh say, then it has taken a brazen step beyond its familiar strategy of working through allied militant groups to strike at its foes, evidently surprising the White House.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161012769_abe13950-dc14-415d-8511-0fdc5722ac94-articleLarge Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf United States International Relations Saudi Arabia Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Nuclear Weapons Mohammed bin Salman (1985- ) Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Embargoes and Sanctions Drones (Pilotless Planes)

Debris from missiles that the Saudi government says were used in last weekend’s attack.CreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Seeking to exact a price from the United States for its sanctions on Iranian oil sales, Tehran may also now be emboldened to carry out further attacks, calculating that President Trump will balk at another war in the region. The attack on Saudi Arabia was just the latest in a string of recent attacks carried out by Iran or a proxy — including attacks on oil tankers and the downing of an American drone — with little or no cost to Iran.

And President Trump, focused on his re-election, has so far shown himself less willing to match Iran’s escalation than his ferocious tweets about “obliteration” and “the official end of Iran” had suggested. He recently fired the adviser most hawkish on Iran, John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser. And instead of emphasizing the traditional American interest in the free flow of oil, he appears to have returned to a view he espoused before his election — “Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars,” as he wrote in a tweet in 2014.

That Iran would seek in some way to attack Saudi oil production, though, was hardly unexpected. Experts had predicted for months that the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions against Iran’s oil sales would drive it to lash out against the oil production of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf States.

The rulers of those Arab states had previously accused President Obama of trying to pull back from the American commitment to the region. They faulted him for negotiating a 2015 deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions without further constraining its military or other activities. And the Gulf leaders were outraged when Mr. Obama called off a planned strike against Syria, an Iranian ally, for using chemical weapons against civilians.

Now some prominent voices in the Arab Gulf States accuse Mr. Trump of an even greater betrayal. “Trump, in his response to Iran, is even worse than Obama,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a prominent political scientist in the United Arab Emirates.

Instead of reversing the perceived pullback as Gulf leaders had expected, Mr. Abdulla argued, President Trump let down his Arab partners by failing to respond more forcefully to Iranian aggressions.

The United States has said that Iran was behind naval mines that damaged five oil tankers in the Persian Gulf this spring, and in June Iran boasted of shooting down an American surveillance drone. Yet President Trump did little in retaliation for the tanker attacks and called off a planned airstrike against Iran in response to the downing of the drone.

“His inaction gave a green light to this,” Mr. Abdulla said. “Now an Arab Gulf strategic partner has been massively attacked by Iran — which was provoked by Trump, not by us — and we hear Americans saying to us, you need to defend yourselves!”

The oil installation in the eastern city of Abqaiq burned after the attack.CreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

“It is an utter failure and utter disappointment in this administration,” he added.

Mr. Trump has not ruled out a military strike, and senior national security officials met Thursday to refine a list of potential targets should President Trump go that route. Still, he has made clear his opposition to another war, and has ordered new sanctions.

But Iran is already under acute economic pressure from the existing sanctions, which use the reach of the American financial system to try to choke off Iranian oil exports anywhere in the world. After pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration implemented the sweeping new penalties this spring to try to force Iran to accept a more restrictive agreement.

Iranian leaders have denounced the sanctions as “economic warfare,” and they appear to have orchestrated an escalating series of attacks that threaten the flow of Persian Gulf oil in order to inflict some of the same pain on the United States and Washington’s Arab allies.

“The Iranians do feel cornered,” Professor Gause said, and that is why they appear to be taking more aggressive action than they have in the past. “This is an effort by Iran to break out of what they see as strangulation.”

Defending the administration’s policies, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued this week that the sanctions may have limited Iran’s ability to strike with even more sophisticated missiles or drones.

“They’d have more complex ones but for the sanctions we put in place that have prevented them from getting access to money, most importantly, but also parts, spare parts, information technology,” he told reporters on a trip to Saudi Arabia.

Iranian leaders have denied responsibility for the attack last weekend, but at the same time they have openly reveled in its success. It showed the United States “that playing with the lion’s tail carries serious dangers and if they take action against Iran there will be no tomorrow for them,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp boasted Thursday, Iranian news media reported.

The Iranians may have previously worried about Mr. Trump’s threatening tweets and hawkish advisers, said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran scholar at Brookings Institution. “But now they see that he is not going to follow through on the bluff that he has carried out on behalf of the American people,” she said.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran this week. Iran may be emboldened to carry out further attacks, calculating that President Trump will balk at another war.CreditOffice of the Iranian Presidency

Others analysts argued that the alarms from the Persian Gulf about an American retreat were overblown under President Obama and remain so under President Trump. American warships are patrolling the gulf to help protect tanker traffic. American satellite and surveillance drones patrol the skies. The many large American military bases deter invasions or other large-scale military actions.

But President Trump’s combination of tough threats and a weak response “is the worst of both worlds,” argued Jeremy Shapiro, research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations and a former State Department official in the Obama administration.

“It would be foolish to counter this escalation with an escalation, but it was foolish to get into this position in the first place,” he argued, leaving the Trump administration “to choose between an unwise escalation or a humiliating climb-down.”

Experts on military technology said Saudi Arabia should not be faulted for failing to stop the attack. Like those of other countries, Saudi Arabia’s defenses were designed to stop ballistic missiles. This attack appears to have been carried out with low-flying cruise missiles or drones that would escape detection by most radar systems.

“I don’t think that there is any country that could have defended any better than Saudi Arabia did, and that includes the United States,” said Peter Roberts, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, an international research institute.

Yet the attack appears to have caused some rethinking by Crown Prince Mohammed.

Soon after he was first named defense minister, in 2015, he plunged the kingdom into a military campaign in neighboring Yemen to drive from power a faction backed by Iran. Saudi media outlets proclaimed that the prince was asserting the kingdom’s power and leading a new drive to roll back Iranian influence.

“The Iranians, they’re the cause of problems in the Middle East, but they are not a big threat to Saudi Arabia,” the prince boasted confidently to Time magazine in 2018. “Saudi Arabia’s economy is double the size of the Iranian economy,” he said, adding that Iran’s army was “not among the top five” in the Middle East.

“We will work so that the battle is for them in Iran, and not in Saudi Arabia,” he promised on a Saudi news channel.

Yet the damage to the oil installation was a painful lesson in the potential costs of a wider conflict, at a time when the Saudi military remains bogged down in Yemen and Prince Mohammed has been pushing for a public sale of the Saudi state oil company.

The Saudi decision to call for an international investigation and not immediate retribution may be the choice of a chastened prince, analysts said. “I think there has a been a calculation that the costs might be too high,” said Rebecca Wasser, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf

The oil-rich monarchies of the Persian Gulf have relied for decades on the promise of protection by the United States military, a commitment sealed by the rollback of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and reinforced by a half dozen American military bases that sprang up around the region.

Now that commitment is facing its most serious test since the first gulf war: an attack last Saturday by a swarm of at least 17 missiles and drones that crippled Saudi Arabia’s most critical oil installation and temporarily knocked out 5 percent of the world’s oil supply.

Washington and Riyadh blamed Iran, despite its denials, and President Trump threatened that the United States was “locked and loaded.” Yet despite months of such bravado, Mr. Trump has been hesitant to take military action that might risk an expanded conflagration. For better or worse, such a muted response could signal another turning point for the region.

“It is enormous,” said Gregory Gause, a scholar of the region at Texas A&M University. “This is the most serious challenge since the invasion of Kuwait to the status of the United States as a great power that would protect the free flow of energy from the region, and unless there is a big change in the response from the Trump administration I think Gulf leaders will start to question the value of that security commitment.”

Confounding expectations on all sides of the Persian Gulf, the attack and its aftermath have laid bare a cascade of revelations about the regional balance of power.

The stunning success of the attack has shown that billions of dollars in Saudi military spending has left the kingdom’s central industry vulnerable, and it has demonstrated to the world that the increasing availability of low-flying cruise missiles and drones may have rendered many other defense systems perilously obsolete.

It has also shown the world a new side of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the hard charging and often impulsive de facto ruler of the kingdom: He, too, has been forced in this case to back away from immediate retribution against his nemesis, Iran.

If Iran carried out the attack directly, as Washington and Riyadh say, then it has taken a brazen step beyond its familiar strategy of working through allied militant groups to strike at its foes, evidently surprising the White House.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161012769_abe13950-dc14-415d-8511-0fdc5722ac94-articleLarge Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf United States International Relations Saudi Arabia Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Nuclear Weapons Mohammed bin Salman (1985- ) Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Embargoes and Sanctions Drones (Pilotless Planes)

Debris from missiles that the Saudi government says were used in last weekend’s attack.CreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Seeking to exact a price from the United States for its sanctions on Iranian oil sales, Tehran may also now be emboldened to carry out further attacks, calculating that President Trump will balk at another war in the region. The attack on Saudi Arabia was just the latest in a string of recent attacks carried out by Iran or a proxy — including attacks on oil tankers and the downing of an American drone — with little or no cost to Iran.

And President Trump, focused on his re-election, has so far shown himself less willing to match Iran’s escalation than his ferocious tweets about “obliteration” and “the official end of Iran” had suggested. He recently fired the adviser most hawkish on Iran, John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser. And instead of emphasizing the traditional American interest in the free flow of oil, he appears to have returned to a view he espoused before his election — “Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars,” as he wrote in a tweet in 2014.

That Iran would seek in some way to attack Saudi oil production, though, was hardly unexpected. Experts had predicted for months that the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions against Iran’s oil sales would drive it to lash out against the oil production of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf States.

The rulers of those Arab states had previously accused President Obama of trying to pull back from the American commitment to the region. They faulted him for negotiating a 2015 deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions without further constraining its military or other activities. And the Gulf leaders were outraged when Mr. Obama called off a planned strike against Syria, an Iranian ally, for using chemical weapons against civilians.

Now some prominent voices in the Arab Gulf States accuse Mr. Trump of an even greater betrayal. “Trump, in his response to Iran, is even worse than Obama,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a prominent political scientist in the United Arab Emirates.

Instead of reversing the perceived pullback as Gulf leaders had expected, Mr. Abdulla argued, President Trump let down his Arab partners by failing to respond more forcefully to Iranian aggressions.

The United States has said that Iran was behind naval mines that damaged five oil tankers in the Persian Gulf this spring, and in June Iran boasted of shooting down an American surveillance drone. Yet President Trump did little in retaliation for the tanker attacks and called off a planned airstrike against Iran in response to the downing of the drone.

“His inaction gave a green light to this,” Mr. Abdulla said. “Now an Arab Gulf strategic partner has been massively attacked by Iran — which was provoked by Trump, not by us — and we hear Americans saying to us, you need to defend yourselves!”

The oil installation in the eastern city of Abqaiq burned after the attack.CreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

“It is an utter failure and utter disappointment in this administration,” he added.

Mr. Trump has not ruled out a military strike, and senior national security officials met Thursday to refine a list of potential targets should President Trump go that route. Still, he has made clear his opposition to another war, and has ordered new sanctions.

But Iran is already under acute economic pressure from the existing sanctions, which use the reach of the American financial system to try to choke off Iranian oil exports anywhere in the world. After pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration implemented the sweeping new penalties this spring to try to force Iran to accept a more restrictive agreement.

Iranian leaders have denounced the sanctions as “economic warfare,” and they appear to have orchestrated an escalating series of attacks that threaten the flow of Persian Gulf oil in order to inflict some of the same pain on the United States and Washington’s Arab allies.

“The Iranians do feel cornered,” Professor Gause said, and that is why they appear to be taking more aggressive action than they have in the past. “This is an effort by Iran to break out of what they see as strangulation.”

Defending the administration’s policies, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued this week that the sanctions may have limited Iran’s ability to strike with even more sophisticated missiles or drones.

“They’d have more complex ones but for the sanctions we put in place that have prevented them from getting access to money, most importantly, but also parts, spare parts, information technology,” he told reporters on a trip to Saudi Arabia.

Iranian leaders have denied responsibility for the attack last weekend, but at the same time they have openly reveled in its success. It showed the United States “that playing with the lion’s tail carries serious dangers and if they take action against Iran there will be no tomorrow for them,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp boasted Thursday, Iranian news media reported.

The Iranians may have previously worried about Mr. Trump’s threatening tweets and hawkish advisers, said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran scholar at Brookings Institution. “But now they see that he is not going to follow through on the bluff that he has carried out on behalf of the American people,” she said.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran this week. Iran may be emboldened to carry out further attacks, calculating that President Trump will balk at another war.CreditOffice of the Iranian Presidency

Others analysts argued that the alarms from the Persian Gulf about an American retreat were overblown under President Obama and remain so under President Trump. American warships are patrolling the gulf to help protect tanker traffic. American satellite and surveillance drones patrol the skies. The many large American military bases deter invasions or other large-scale military actions.

But President Trump’s combination of tough threats and a weak response “is the worst of both worlds,” argued Jeremy Shapiro, research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations and a former State Department official in the Obama administration.

“It would be foolish to counter this escalation with an escalation, but it was foolish to get into this position in the first place,” he argued, leaving the Trump administration “to choose between an unwise escalation or a humiliating climb-down.”

Experts on military technology said Saudi Arabia should not be faulted for failing to stop the attack. Like those of other countries, Saudi Arabia’s defenses were designed to stop ballistic missiles. This attack appears to have been carried out with low-flying cruise missiles or drones that would escape detection by most radar systems.

“I don’t think that there is any country that could have defended any better than Saudi Arabia did, and that includes the United States,” said Peter Roberts, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, an international research institute.

Yet the attack appears to have caused some rethinking by Crown Prince Mohammed.

Soon after he was first named defense minister, in 2015, he plunged the kingdom into a military campaign in neighboring Yemen to drive from power a faction backed by Iran. Saudi media outlets proclaimed that the prince was asserting the kingdom’s power and leading a new drive to roll back Iranian influence.

“The Iranians, they’re the cause of problems in the Middle East, but they are not a big threat to Saudi Arabia,” the prince boasted confidently to Time magazine in 2018. “Saudi Arabia’s economy is double the size of the Iranian economy,” he said, adding that Iran’s army was “not among the top five” in the Middle East.

“We will work so that the battle is for them in Iran, and not in Saudi Arabia,” he promised on a Saudi news channel.

Yet the damage to the oil installation was a painful lesson in the potential costs of a wider conflict, at a time when the Saudi military remains bogged down in Yemen and Prince Mohammed has been pushing for a public sale of the Saudi state oil company.

The Saudi decision to call for an international investigation and not immediate retribution may be the choice of a chastened prince, analysts said. “I think there has a been a calculation that the costs might be too high,” said Rebecca Wasser, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Attack on Saudi Arabia Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf

The oil rich monarchies of the Persian Gulf have relied for decades on the promise of protection by the United States military, a commitment sealed by the rollback of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and reinforced by a half dozen American military bases that sprung up around the region.

Now that commitment is facing its most serious test since the first gulf war: an attack last Saturday by a swarm of at least 17 missiles and drones that crippled Saudi Arabia’s most critical oil installation and temporarily knocked out five percent of the world’s oil supply.

Washington and Riyadh blamed Iran, despite its denials, and President Trump threatened that the United States was “locked and loaded.” Yet despite months of such bravado, Mr. Trump has been hesitant to take military action that might risk an expanded conflagration. For better or worse, such a muted response could signal another turning point for the region.

“It is enormous,” said Gregory Gause, a scholar of the region at Texas A&M University. “This is the most serious challenge since the invasion of Kuwait to the status of the United States as a great power that would protect the free flow of energy from the region, and unless there is a big change in the response from the Trump administration I think Gulf leaders will start to question the value of that security commitment.”

Confounding expectations on all sides of the Persian Gulf, the attack and its aftermath have laid bare a cascade of revelations about the regional balance of power.

The stunning success of the attack has shown that billions of dollars in Saudi military spending has left the kingdom’s central industry vulnerable, and it has demonstrated to the world that the increasing availability of low-flying cruise missiles and drones may have rendered many other defense systems perilously obsolete.

It has also shown the world a new side of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the hard charging and often impulsive de facto ruler of the kingdom: he, too, has been forced in this case to back away from immediate retribution against his nemesis, Iran.

If Iran carried out the attack directly, as Washington and Riyadh say, then it has taken a brazen step beyond its familiar strategy of working through allied militant groups to strike at its foes, evidently surprising the White House.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161012769_abe13950-dc14-415d-8511-0fdc5722ac94-articleLarge Attack on Saudi Arabia Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf United States International Relations Saudi Arabia Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Nuclear Weapons Mohammed bin Salman (1985- ) Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Embargoes and Sanctions Drones (Pilotless Planes)

Debris from missiles that the Saudi government says were used in last weekend’s attack.CreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Seeking to exact a price from the United States for its sanctions on Iranian oil sales, Tehran may also now be emboldened to carry out further attacks, calculating that President Trump will balk at another war in the region. The attack on Saudi Arabia was just the latest in a string of recent attacks carried out by Iran or a proxy — including attacks on oil tankers and the downing of an American drone — with little or no cost to Iran.

And President Trump, focused on his re-election, has so far shown himself less willing to match Iran’s escalation than his ferocious tweets about “obliteration” and “the official end of Iran” had suggested. He recently fired the adviser most hawkish on Iran, John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser. And instead of emphasizing the traditional American interest in the free flow of oil, he appears to have returned to a view he espoused before his election — “Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars,” as he wrote in a tweet in 2014.

That Iran would seek in some way to attack Saudi oil production, though, was hardly unexpected. Experts had predicted for months that the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions against Iran’s oil sales would drive it to lash out against the oil production of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf States.

The rulers of those Arab states had previously accused President Obama of trying to pull back from the American commitment to region. They faulted him for negotiating a 2015 deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions without further constraining its military or other activities. And the Gulf leaders were outraged when Mr. Obama called off a planned strike against Syria, an Iranian ally, for using chemical weapons against civilians.

Now some prominent voices in the Arab Gulf States accuse Mr. Trump of an even greater betrayal. “Trump, in his response to Iran, is even worse than Obama,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a prominent political scientist in the United Arab Emirates.

Instead of reversing the perceived pullback as Gulf leaders had expected, Mr. Abdulla argued, President Trump let down his Arab partners by failing to respond more forcefully to Iranian aggressions.

The United States has said that Iran was behind naval mines that damaged five oil tankers in the Persian Gulf this spring, and in June Iran boasted of shooting down an American surveillance drone. Yet President Trump did little in retaliation for the tanker attacks and called off a planned airstrike against Iran in response to the downing of the drone.

“His inaction gave a green light to this,” Mr. Abdulla said. “Now an Arab Gulf strategic partner has been massively attacked by Iran — which was provoked by Trump, not by us — and we hear Americans saying to us, you need to defend yourselves!”

The oil installation in the eastern city of Abqaiq burned after the attack.CreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

“It is an utter failure and utter disappointment in this administration,” he added.

Mr. Trump has not ruled out a military strike, and senior national security officials met Thursday to refine a list of potential targets should President Trump go that route. Still, he has made clear his opposition to another war, and has ordered new sanctions.

But Iran is already under acute economic pressure from the existing sanctions, which use the reach of the American financial system to try to choke off Iranian oil exports anywhere in the world. After pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration implemented the sweeping new penalties this spring to try to force Iran to accept a more restrictive agreement.

Iranian leaders have denounced the sanctions as “economic warfare,” and they appear to have orchestrated an escalating series of attacks that threaten the flow of Persian Gulf oil in order to inflict some of the same pain on the United States and Washington’s Arab allies.

“The Iranians do feel cornered,” Professor Gause said, and that is why they appear to be taking more aggressive action than they have in the past. “This is an effort by Iran to break out of what they see as strangulation.”

Defending the administration’s policies, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued this week that the sanctions may have limited Iran’s ability to strike with even more sophisticated missiles or drones.

“They’d have more complex ones but for the sanctions we put in place that have prevented them from getting access to money, most importantly, but also parts, spare parts, information technology,” he told reporters on a trip to Saudi Arabia.

Iranian leaders have denied responsibility for the attack last weekend, but at the same time they have openly reveled in its success. It showed the United States “that playing with the lion’s tail carries serious dangers and if they take action against Iran there will be no tomorrow for them,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp boasted Thursday, Iranian news media reported.

The Iranians may have previously worried about Mr. Trump’s threatening tweets and hawkish advisers, said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran scholar at Brookings Institution. “But now they see that he is not going to follow through on the bluff that he has carried out on behalf of the American people,” she said.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran this week. Iran may be emboldened to carry out further attacks, calculating that President Trump will balk at another war.CreditOffice of the Iranian Presidency

Others analysts argued that the alarms from the Persian Gulf about an American retreat were overblown under President Obama and remain so under President Trump. American warships are patrolling the gulf to help protect tanker traffic. American satellite and surveillance drones patrol the skies. The many large American military bases deter invasions or other large-scale military actions.

But President Trump’s combination of tough threats and a weak response “is the worst of both worlds,” argued Jeremy Shapiro, research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations and a former State Department official in the Obama administration.

“It would be foolish to counter this escalation with an escalation, but it was foolish to get into this position in the first place,” he argued, leaving the Trump administration “to choose between an unwise escalation or a humiliating climb-down.”

Experts on military technology said Saudi Arabia should not be faulted for failing to stop the attack. Like those of other countries, Saudi Arabia’s defenses were designed to stop ballistic missiles. This attack appears to have been carried out with low-flying cruise missiles or drones that would escape detection by most radar systems.

“I don’t think that there is any country that could have defended any better than Saudi Arabia did, and that includes the United States,” said Peter Roberts, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, an international research institute.

Yet the attack appears to have caused some rethinking by Crown Prince Mohammed.

Soon after he was first named defense minister, in 2015, he plunged the kingdom into a military campaign in neighboring Yemen to drive from power a faction backed by Iran. Saudi media outlets proclaimed that the prince was asserting the kingdom’s power and leading a new drive to roll back Iranian influence.

“The Iranians, they’re the cause of problems in the Middle East, but they are not a big threat to Saudi Arabia,” the prince boasted confidently to Time magazine in 2018. “Saudi Arabia’s economy is double the size of the Iranian economy,” he said, adding that Iran’s army was “ not among the top five” in the Middle East.

“We will work so that the battle is for them in Iran, and not in Saudi Arabia,” he promised on a Saudi news channel.

Yet the damage to the oil installation was a painful lesson in the potential costs of a wider conflict, at a time when the Saudi military remains bogged down in Yemen and Prince Mohammed has been pushing for a public sale of the Saudi state oil company.

The Saudi decision to call for an international investigation and not immediate retribution may be the choice of a chastened prince, analysts said. “I think there has a been a calculation that the costs might be too high,” said Rebecca Wasser, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Says Iran Appears Responsible for Saudi Attack but That He Wants to Avoid War

President Trump said Monday that Iran appeared to have been responsible for the weekend attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. But he also said he would “like to avoid” a military conflict with Tehran, emphasized his interest in diplomacy and played down the attack’s jolt to the global oil market.

Asked at the White House whether Iran was behind the strikes on Saturday that crippled much of Saudi Arabia’s oil output, Mr. Trump said, “It’s looking that way.” But he stopped short of a definitive confirmation, adding, “That’s being checked out right now.”

The attack was the most destructive blow to Saudi Arabia since it began waging war in Yemen more than four years ago. The damage inside Saudi Arabia helped drive world oil prices up by 10 percent on Monday, the fastest rise in more than a decade.

Mr. Trump warned that the United States has fearsome military capabilities and is prepared for war if necessary. “With all that being said, we’d certainly like to avoid it,” he said. “I know they want to make a deal,” he said of Iranian officials, whom he has been trying to draw into talks over their nuclear program and other issues. “At some point it will work out.”

Mr. Trump’s comments represented a notable shift in tone from the day before, when he wrote on Twitter that the United States was “locked and loaded,” ready to take action based on Saudi Arabia’s needs.

On Monday, he told reporters he had not “promised” to protect the Saudis. Rather, Mr. Trump said, he will “sit down with the Saudis and work something out.”

The president’s statements came shortly after Saudi Arabia, Iran’s principal rival in the region, said Iranian weapons had been used in the attack. But while the Saudis said they would “forcefully respond to these aggressions,” they also stopped short of directly blaming Iran and did not call for immediate retaliation.

The comments from Mr. Trump and the Saudis suggested they did not want the episode to escalate into a wider conflict, just a week before world leaders converge at the United Nations for the General Assembly. Mr. Trump had proposed meeting with Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, possibly at the annual gathering in New York, although Iran ruled that out on Monday.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160685778_0ca4d2c5-7234-4758-9a82-a8fb17d22185-articleLarge Trump Says Iran Appears Responsible for Saudi Attack but That He Wants to Avoid War Yemen United States International Relations Saudi Arabia Iran Houthis Embargoes and Sanctions Drones (Pilotless Planes)

President Trump has sent mixed signals on a response to the attack, saying he would like to avoid a conflict with Iran while not ruling out a lethal military strike.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Houthi insurgents in Yemen, who have been fighting a calamitous civil war against a Saudi-led military coalition. Iran is a chief ally of the Houthis.

American officials directly blamed Iran over the weekend for the blows to the Saudi oil facilities. They presented satellite photographs of the damage, contending that the images indicated that the attack had come from the north or northwest — in the direction of Iran or Iraq — not from Yemen, which is to the south. The Saudis also said Monday that their initial investigation showed that the attack had not come from Yemen.

But an analysis of the images by independent experts challenged those assertions.

The images did suggest a complex, precise attack that far exceeded any capabilities the Houthis had previously shown, raising the likelihood of Iran’s involvement.

Still, experts said the images were insufficient to prove where the attack came from, which weapons were used and who fired them.

Iran has denied any involvement in the strike, which threatened to disrupt the global flow of oil.

But Mr. Trump sought to play down the impact on oil prices. “They haven’t risen very much, and we have the strategic oil reserves, which are massive,” he told reporters. By releasing some of those reserves, he said, “you’d bring it right down.”

Mr. Trump has sent mixed signals on his response to the attack, which happened only a few days after he dismissed John R. Bolton, his national security adviser, who was known for having wanted to strike Iran militarily.

Earlier on Monday, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to suggest that Tehran could not be believed, reminding his followers of Iran’s downing of a United States surveillance drone in June. Iran’s version of events “was a very big lie,” he wrote. “Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?”

Mr. Trump, who has made American policy toward Iran markedly more hostile with severe economic sanctions, tweeted on Sunday night that Washington was seeking Saudi input before a potential military response. Saying the military was braced to respond, “depending on verification,” he wrote, “There is reason to believe that we know the culprit.”

Video

Westlake Legal Group 14saudi-1-videoSixteenByNine3000 Trump Says Iran Appears Responsible for Saudi Attack but That He Wants to Avoid War Yemen United States International Relations Saudi Arabia Iran Houthis Embargoes and Sanctions Drones (Pilotless Planes)

A Saudi Aramco plant in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, was attacked early Saturday, one of two sites hit.CreditCreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Mr. Trump did not rule out a lethal military strike. Asked later Monday on the White House lawn if such an action would be proportional, he responded: “I would say yes.”

No clear public message emerged from Saudi Arabia on what response the Saudis prefer.

Prominent supporters of the monarchy have portrayed the strikes as an assault on the world and its energy markets, not just Saudi Arabia, and some have talked of retaliation.

“What is required is nothing more than the destruction of Iran’s oil installations, and if there is a capacity, nuclear facilities and military bases as well,” argued Turki al-Hamad, a prominent Saudi political analyst and novelist.

But other social media accounts known for pro-government propaganda argued for patience, saying that wisdom favors choosing the right time and means to respond.

Mohammed Alyahya, editor in chief of the English website of the Saudi-owned news channel Al Arabiya, emphasized that the kingdom’s rulers were deliberating carefully.

The attacks show that Iranians are feeling the pain of the Trump administration’s sweeping sanctions, he said, and “they are more likely to take risks like the one they took recently.”

“A conventional military response must only be embarked upon with the utmost care in terms of the legality and consequences, after looking at all the other alternatives,” Mr. Alyahya said. “If there is a military conflict, Iran will inevitably be the biggest loser, but the reality is that everybody will lose. A conventional war will take its toll on everyone.”

The Houthis insisted on Monday that they had carried out the strikes using drones, and threatened more. They made no reference to whether Iranian equipment or training had played a role.

A satellite image provided by the United States government of damage at the Abqaiq oil processing plant on Saturday.CreditU.S. Government/DigitalGlobe, via Associated Press

A spokesman for the Houthi military, Brig. Gen. Yahya Sare’e, “warned companies and foreigners not to be present in the factories that were hit by our strikes because we may target them again at any moment,” Almasirah, the Houthi news organization, reported on Monday.

The Houthis can strike at will anywhere in Saudi Arabia, he said, and their actions against it “will expand and be more painful.”

United Nations experts say that Iran has supplied the Houthis with drones and missiles that have greatly expanded their offensive capacity.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has worked extensively with other allied groups in the region, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, Hamas in Gaza, and Shiite militias in Iraq.

Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has killed thousands, many of them civilians. The war there is considered the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis of recent years, displacing millions of people and leaving millions more at risk of starvation.

The Houthis claimed to have used 10 drones in Saturday’s attack; American officials said that there were 17 points of impact. The rebel group has launched missile and drone attacks into Saudi territory before, but never anything on that scale, or against such vital targets, or so deep into the kingdom, 500 miles from Yemeni territory.

The attack forced the shutdown of facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais, which ordinarily process most of the crude oil produced by Saudi Arabia; the kingdom supplies about a tenth of the worldwide total.

Tensions between the United States and Iran have increased sharply since last year, when Mr. Trump abandoned the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program and reimposed economic sanctions there. This spring, he imposed new sanctions, and Iran, which had continued to abide by the 2015 accord after the American withdrawal, began stepping back from some of the accord’s obligations.

In May and June, several tankers were damaged in or near the Strait of Hormuz, in what American officials said were Iranian attacks. Iran has also seized several foreign ships.

On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said that a British-flagged tanker, Stena Impero, which Iran impounded near its coast in July, would be released within days. Iran took the ship after British and Gibraltar forces seized an Iranian tanker, which was released last month after more than six weeks’ detention.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Says Iran Appears Responsible for Saudi Attack but That He Wants to Avoid War

President Trump said Monday that Iran appeared to have been responsible for the weekend attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. But he also said he would “like to avoid” a military conflict with Tehran, emphasized his interest in diplomacy and played down the attack’s jolt to the global oil market.

Asked at the White House whether Iran was behind the strikes on Saturday that crippled much of Saudi Arabia’s oil output, Mr. Trump said, “It’s looking that way.” But he stopped short of a definitive confirmation, adding, “That’s being checked out right now.”

The attack was the most destructive blow to Saudi Arabia since it began waging war in Yemen more than four years ago. The damage inside Saudi Arabia helped drive world oil prices up by 10 percent on Monday, the fastest rise in more than a decade.

Mr. Trump warned that the United States has fearsome military capabilities and is prepared for war if necessary. “With all that being said, we’d certainly like to avoid it,” he said. “I know they want to make a deal,” he said of Iranian officials, whom he has been trying to draw into talks over their nuclear program and other issues. “At some point it will work out.”

Mr. Trump’s comments represented a notable shift in tone from the day before, when he wrote on Twitter that the United States was “locked and loaded,” ready to take action based on Saudi Arabia’s needs.

On Monday, he told reporters he had not “promised” to protect the Saudis. Rather, Mr. Trump said, he will “sit down with the Saudis and work something out.”

The president’s statements came shortly after Saudi Arabia, Iran’s principal rival in the region, said Iranian weapons had been used in the attack. But while the Saudis said they would “forcefully respond to these aggressions,” they also stopped short of directly blaming Iran and did not call for immediate retaliation.

The comments from Mr. Trump and the Saudis suggested they did not want the episode to escalate into a wider conflict, just a week before world leaders converge at the United Nations for the General Assembly. Mr. Trump had proposed meeting with Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, possibly at the annual gathering in New York, although Iran ruled that out on Monday.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160685778_0ca4d2c5-7234-4758-9a82-a8fb17d22185-articleLarge Trump Says Iran Appears Responsible for Saudi Attack but That He Wants to Avoid War Yemen United States International Relations Saudi Arabia Iran Houthis Embargoes and Sanctions Drones (Pilotless Planes)

President Trump has sent mixed signals on a response to the attack, saying he would like to avoid a conflict with Iran while not ruling out a lethal military strike.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Houthi insurgents in Yemen, who have been fighting a calamitous civil war against a Saudi-led military coalition. Iran is a chief ally of the Houthis.

American officials directly blamed Iran over the weekend for the blows to the Saudi oil facilities. They presented satellite photographs of the damage, contending that the images indicated that the attack had come from the north or northwest — in the direction of Iran or Iraq — not from Yemen, which is to the south. The Saudis also said Monday that their initial investigation showed that the attack had not come from Yemen.

But an analysis of the images by independent experts challenged those assertions.

The images did suggest a complex, precise attack that far exceeded any capabilities the Houthis had previously shown, raising the likelihood of Iran’s involvement.

Still, experts said the images were insufficient to prove where the attack came from, which weapons were used and who fired them.

Iran has denied any involvement in the strike, which threatened to disrupt the global flow of oil.

But Mr. Trump sought to play down the impact on oil prices. “They haven’t risen very much, and we have the strategic oil reserves, which are massive,” he told reporters. By releasing some of those reserves, he said, “you’d bring it right down.”

Mr. Trump has sent mixed signals on his response to the attack, which happened only a few days after he dismissed John R. Bolton, his national security adviser, who was known for having wanted to strike Iran militarily.

Earlier on Monday, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to suggest that Tehran could not be believed, reminding his followers of Iran’s downing of a United States surveillance drone in June. Iran’s version of events “was a very big lie,” he wrote. “Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?”

Mr. Trump, who has made American policy toward Iran markedly more hostile with severe economic sanctions, tweeted on Sunday night that Washington was seeking Saudi input before a potential military response. Saying the military was braced to respond, “depending on verification,” he wrote, “There is reason to believe that we know the culprit.”

Video

Westlake Legal Group 14saudi-1-videoSixteenByNine3000 Trump Says Iran Appears Responsible for Saudi Attack but That He Wants to Avoid War Yemen United States International Relations Saudi Arabia Iran Houthis Embargoes and Sanctions Drones (Pilotless Planes)

A Saudi Aramco plant in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, was attacked early Saturday, one of two sites hit.CreditCreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Mr. Trump did not rule out a lethal military strike. Asked later Monday on the White House lawn if such an action would be proportional, he responded: “I would say yes.”

No clear public message emerged from Saudi Arabia on what response the Saudis prefer.

Prominent supporters of the monarchy have portrayed the strikes as an assault on the world and its energy markets, not just Saudi Arabia, and some have talked of retaliation.

“What is required is nothing more than the destruction of Iran’s oil installations, and if there is a capacity, nuclear facilities and military bases as well,” argued Turki al-Hamad, a prominent Saudi political analyst and novelist.

But other social media accounts known for pro-government propaganda argued for patience, saying that wisdom favors choosing the right time and means to respond.

Mohammed Alyahya, editor in chief of the English website of the Saudi-owned news channel Al Arabiya, emphasized that the kingdom’s rulers were deliberating carefully.

The attacks show that Iranians are feeling the pain of the Trump administration’s sweeping sanctions, he said, and “they are more likely to take risks like the one they took recently.”

“A conventional military response must only be embarked upon with the utmost care in terms of the legality and consequences, after looking at all the other alternatives,” Mr. Alyahya said. “If there is a military conflict, Iran will inevitably be the biggest loser, but the reality is that everybody will lose. A conventional war will take its toll on everyone.”

The Houthis insisted on Monday that they had carried out the strikes using drones, and threatened more. They made no reference to whether Iranian equipment or training had played a role.

A satellite image provided by the United States government of damage at the Abqaiq oil processing plant on Saturday.CreditU.S. Government/DigitalGlobe, via Associated Press

A spokesman for the Houthi military, Brig. Gen. Yahya Sare’e, “warned companies and foreigners not to be present in the factories that were hit by our strikes because we may target them again at any moment,” Almasirah, the Houthi news organization, reported on Monday.

The Houthis can strike at will anywhere in Saudi Arabia, he said, and their actions against it “will expand and be more painful.”

United Nations experts say that Iran has supplied the Houthis with drones and missiles that have greatly expanded their offensive capacity.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has worked extensively with other allied groups in the region, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, Hamas in Gaza, and Shiite militias in Iraq.

Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has killed thousands, many of them civilians. The war there is considered the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis of recent years, displacing millions of people and leaving millions more at risk of starvation.

The Houthis claimed to have used 10 drones in Saturday’s attack; American officials said that there were 17 points of impact. The rebel group has launched missile and drone attacks into Saudi territory before, but never anything on that scale, or against such vital targets, or so deep into the kingdom, 500 miles from Yemeni territory.

The attack forced the shutdown of facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais, which ordinarily process most of the crude oil produced by Saudi Arabia; the kingdom supplies about a tenth of the worldwide total.

T

Tensions between the United States and Iran have increased sharply since last year, when Mr. Trump abandoned the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program and reimposed economic sanctions there. This spring, he imposed new sanctions, and Iran, which had continued to abide by the 2015 accord after the American withdrawal, began stepping back from some of the accord’s obligations.

In May and June, several tankers were damaged in or near the Strait of Hormuz, in what American officials said were Iranian attacks. Iran has also seized several foreign ships.

On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said that a British-flagged tanker, Stena Impero, which Iran impounded near its coast in July, would be released within days. Iran took the ship after British and Gibraltar forces seized an Iranian tanker, which was released last month after more than six weeks’ detention.

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After Saudi Attack, Oil Market Is on Edge: ‘What if the Other Shoe Drops?’

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HOUSTON — Fixing the damage done by the drone attack on the Saudi oil processing plant may be the easy part. The hard part will be calming energy markets, where oil prices have jumped faster than at any time in over a decade.

The attack on a Saudi Arabian plant that accounts for 5 percent of global oil supplies and a nearby facility took 5.7 million barrels a day of production off line for at least a few days. It also revealed the significant danger that drones pose to the Persian Gulf’s sprawling processing plants, pipelines and refineries.

“The psyche has been altered,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for Oil Price Information Service. “Now you have the thought, `What if the other shoe drops and we have a wider conflict?’”

For years, American and Saudi security analysts have worried about the Abqaiq processing facility, which removes sulfur impurities and makes crude oil less volatile so it can be safely exported on tankers. Without the plant, much of the oil that Saudi Arabia produces at its giant Ghawar and Shaybah oil fields would have nowhere to go.

The facility has a heavily guarded perimeter, which was substantially fortified after several cars carrying suicide bombers from Al Qaeda attacked it in 2006. Guards stopped those attackers before they reached the complex’s gates. But the security measures at the site were not sufficient to stop the sophisticated weekend attack by multiple drones that crippled critical components.

While a production shortfall from an attack on one pipeline or refinery can often be offset by others, it is not easy to make up for the loss of the processing capacity of Abqaiq, the largest facility of its kind in the world. The fires were quickly put out, and repairs have begun. But a return to full capacity may take months, energy experts said.

“This changes the oil markets psychologically for a couple of years for sure now that everything is shown to be vulnerable,” said Dragan Vuckovic, president of Mediterranean International, an oil service company that works in Egypt and Iraq. “One drone can hit a refinery or an oil-field installation and that causes fires, destruction and stops all production. It means less oil on the market and higher oil prices.”

Oil futures shot up 20 percent when trading began in Asia on Monday morning before falling back a little later in the day. It was still the biggest one-day oil price shock since Hurricane Katrina shut down production at Gulf Coast refineries and offshore oil fields in 2005, Mr. Kloza said.

The United States benchmark oil contract settled up $8.05 a barrel, or nearly 15 percent, at $62.90 on Monday afternoon. That is still about 7 percent below the price of a year ago. Brent oil, the global benchmark, also rose nearly 15 percent.

Prices might have jumped even more had global oil supplies not been bountiful, analysts said. It also helps that the global economy is slowing, oil production is surging in the United States and many industrialized nations have large strategic oil reserves.

The world has an estimated 90-day supply of oil available, and the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq have spare production capacity. New oil pipelines between West Texas and the Gulf Coast are near completion and will soon increase American exports to countries like South Korea and Japan that depend on Saudi crude. And producers that have been dropping rigs in recent months will likely drill more if prices stay elevated.

Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia tried to quicken the pace of tanker traffic from its ports to cushion the market shock.

Rob Thummel, managing director at Tortoise Advisors, a firm that makes energy investments, predicted a price increase of 10 to 20 percent until there is a complete assessment of the damage at the Saudi plant.

“In the long term, oil prices will likely add a geopolitical risk premium of at least $5 to $10 into the price until the odds of another strike are reduced,” he said.

Mr. Thummel projected that oil prices in the United States would settle between $60 and $70 a barrel, which would lead to a roughly 25-cent increase in the retail price of gasoline.

Americans burn about 400 million gallons of gasoline a day, so a 25-cent increase would cost consumers about $100 million a day. The national average price for regular gasoline on Monday was $2.56 a gallon, 29 cents below a year ago. Experts say the drop in gas prices over the last year has given consumers some extra disposable income — something now likely to disappear.

For many years, analysts believed that higher oil prices always hurt the American economy. But in recent years, that has changed. States like Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Colorado benefit when oil prices move up.

Higher prices also help smaller oil companies and oil service companies, which have been laying off workers and struggling to pay debts in recent months. The share prices of several oil and gas company stocks, including Carrizo Oil & Gas, Chesapeake Energy, Apache and Hess, jumped by more than 10 percent on Monday.

Higher oil prices could also reduce the trade deficit now that the United States is a major exporter.

There may also be an upside for steel companies and manufacturers that supply pipes and other equipment to the energy industry. The ethanol industry will also benefit, Mr. Kloza said, because biofuels will become more attractive relative to oil. That should help corn farmers in the Midwest.

That said, higher oil prices could further slow a weakening global economy, especially if the attack on Abqaiq leads to more violence in the Middle East.

“If a full-fledged war between Iran and Saudi Arabia breaks out, there would be no limit to how high prices could go,” said Jay Hatfield, portfolio manager at InfraCap MLP, an exchange-traded fund that invests in oil pipelines.

Even without a war, global supplies could get tighter. Pipelines in the United States remain congested, which will probably reduce daily releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve should the Trump administration decide to tap that resource. Countries like Japan and South Korea tend to be reluctant to tap their oil reserves except during full-blown crises.

President Trump said on Sunday that he had authorized a release of oil from the strategic reserve “if needed,” but his energy secretary, Rick Perry, told CNBC on Monday that the administration had not made a decision about tapping the reserve.

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Trump Says Iran Appears Responsible for Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities

President Trump said Monday that Iran appeared to be responsible for the weekend attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. But Mr. Trump also said he would “like to avoid” a military conflict with Tehran and reiterated his interest in diplomacy.

Asked at the White House whether Iran was behind the attack, Mr. Trump said, “It’s looking that way.” But he stopped short of a definitive confirmation. “That’s being checked out right now,” he added.

Mr. Trump warned that the United States has fearsome military capabilities and is prepared for war if necessary. “With all that being said, we’d certainly like to avoid it,” he added. “I know they want to make a deal,” he said of Iranian officials, who he has been trying to draw into talks over their nuclear program. “At some point it will work out.”

Mr. Trump’s comments came shortly after a Saudi government statement said that, “Initial investigations have indicated that the weapons used in the attack were Iranian weapons.” But the Saudis stopped short of directly blaming Iran for the attack.

The Saudis called for international experts to visit and assess the evidence. Their statement said the Saudis would “forcefully respond to these aggressions.”

Mr. Trump also told reporters on Monday that he had not “promised” to protect the Saudis and that he would “sit down with the Saudis and work something out.”

Responsibility for the weekend attack was claimed by Yemen’s rebel Houthi faction. Iran is a chief ally of the Houthis.

The attack on Saturday was the most audacious and damaging blow to Saudi Arabia in the four and a half years of civil war in Yemen, and helped drive world oil prices up by about 10 percent.

But the Saudis did not directly accuse Iran of launching the strikes and refrained from calling for retaliation amid escalating tensions between Iran and the United States, which have raised fears of a wider armed conflict.

The Houthis have claimed that they carried out the attacks, and Iran has denied any involvement. But Trump administration officials have previously said that the Iranians should be held responsible for the actions of forces in the region that they support, including the Yemeni rebels.

An investigation into the strikes is still underway, but “the initial results show that they are Iranian weapons,” Col. Turki al-Maliki, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen, said at a news conference in Riyadh.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 14saudi-1-videoSixteenByNine3000 Trump Says Iran Appears Responsible for Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Yemen United States International Relations Saudi Arabia Iran Houthis Embargoes and Sanctions Drones (Pilotless Planes)

Drone strikes set fire to a Saudi Aramco plant in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, early Saturday. It was one of two sites hit.CreditCreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

“The terrorist attack was not from Yemeni territory, as the Houthi militias claimed,” he said, adding that the Saudis were still “working to determine the launch point.”

United States officials have said that Tehran was responsible and have suggested that a military response may come. But they have not said whether that meant Iran actually had a hand in directing or mounting the offensive, and offered no evidence for an Iranian role beyond satellite photos of the damage whose meaning was unclear.

The Americans, too, have cast doubt on whether the attacks were launched from Houthi territory in Yemen, far south of the targets, suggesting that they originated from the north — the direction of Iran — or northwest.

United Nations experts say that Iran has supplied the Houthis with drones and missiles that have greatly expanded their offensive capacity.

President Trump on Monday took to Twitter to suggest that Tehran could not be believed, reminding his followers of Iran’s downing of a United States surveillance drone in June. Iran’s version of events “was a very big lie,” he wrote. “Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?”

Mr. Trump, who has made American policy toward Iran markedly more hostile, tweeted on Sunday night that Washington was seeking Saudi input before a potential military response. “There is reason to believe that we know the culprit,” he wrote, saying that the military was “locked and loaded depending on verification.”

But no clear public message has emerged yet about what response the Saudis prefer.

Prominent supporters of the monarchy have portrayed the strikes as an assault on the world and its energy markets, not just Saudi Arabia, and some have talked of retaliation.

“What is required is nothing more than the destruction of Iran’s oil installations, and if there is a capacity, nuclear facilities and military bases as well,” argued Turki al-Hamad, a prominent Saudi political analyst and novelist.

But other social media accounts known for pro-government propaganda argued for patience, saying that wisdom favors choosing the right time and means to respond.

Mohammed Alyahya, editor in chief of the English website of the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news channel, emphasized that the rulers of the kingdom were deliberating carefully. The attacks show that Iranians are feeling the pain of the Trump administration’s sweeping sanctions, he said, and “they are more likely to take risks like the one they took recently.”

“A conventional military response must only be embarked upon with the utmost care in terms of the legality and consequences, after looking at all the other alternatives,” Mr. Alyahya said. “If there is a military conflict, Iran will inevitably be the biggest loser, but the reality is that everybody will lose. A conventional war will take its toll on everyone.”

The Houthis insisted on Monday that they had carried out the strikes using drones, and threatened more. They made no reference to whether Iranian equipment or training had played a role.

A spokesman for the Houthi military, Brig. Gen. Yahya Sare’e, “warned companies and foreigners not to be present in the factories that were hit by our strikes because we may target them again at any moment,” Almasirah, the Houthi news organization, reported on Monday.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160847475_b46b1514-31d5-4185-8e52-54a74ab571a7-articleLarge Trump Says Iran Appears Responsible for Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Yemen United States International Relations Saudi Arabia Iran Houthis Embargoes and Sanctions Drones (Pilotless Planes)

A satellite image provided by the United States government of damage at the Abqaiq oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.CreditU.S. Government/DigitalGlobe, via Associated Press

The Houthis can strike at will anywhere in Saudi Arabia, he said, and their actions against the kingdom “will expand and be more painful.”

While doubts persist that the Houthis could have executed such a strike on their own, it is possible they did so with Iran’s help. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has worked extensively with other allied groups in the region, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, Hamas in Gaza, and Shiite militias in Iraq.

Saudi Arabia is leading the coalition that is fighting the Houthis in Yemen, waging a bombing campaign that has killed thousands, many of them civilians. The war there is considered the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis of recent years, displacing millions of people and leaving millions more at risk of starvation.

The Houthis claimed to have used 10 drones in the Saturday attack; American officials said that there were 17 points of impact. The rebel group has launched missile and drone attacks into Saudi territory before, but never anything on that scale, or against such vital targets, or so deep into the kingdom, some 500 miles from Yemeni territory.

The attacks on Saturday forced the shutdown of facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais, which ordinarily process most of the crude oil produced by Saudi Arabia; the kingdom supplies about a tenth of the worldwide total. A Saudi official said Monday that the kingdom had shut down about half of its production because of the attacks, but expected its output to return to normal soon.

Saudi Arabia and other exporters keep large oil stockpiles. Experts say it is unclear whether the Saudi equipment will be out of commission long enough to affect global oil supplies, but prices rose sharply in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.

The Iraqi government said Monday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Sunday night that the information reviewed by the United States showed that the attacks had not come from Iraqi territory.

That would mean the United States does not suspect that Shiite militias in Iraq with ties to Iran are responsible for the attacks. Some of those militias are under the umbrella of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, which fought against the Islamic State and whose salaries are paid by Baghdad.

“The prime minister stressed that Iraq’s task is to maintain its own security and stability and avoid any step of escalation and to prevent the use of its territory against any neighboring or brotherly or friendly country,” the Iraqi statement said.

The State Department declined to comment on Mr. Pompeo’s call or the official Iraqi statement. The department did not provide its own summary of the call.

Tensions between the United States and Iran have increased sharply since last year, when Mr. Trump withdrew from the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program and reimposed economic sanctions against Iran. This spring, he imposed new sanctions, and Iran, which had continued to abide by the 2015 accord after the United States withdrawal, began stepping back from some of their obligations.

In May and June, several tankers were damaged in or near the Strait of Hormuz, in what American officials said were Iranian attacks. Iran has also seized several foreign ships.

On Monday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said that a British-flagged tanker, Stena Impero, which Iran impounded while it sailed near its coast in July, would be released within days. Iran took the ship after British and Gibraltar forces seized an Iranian tanker, which was released last month after more than six weeks’ detention.

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Oil Prices Expected to Remain Elevated After Attack on Saudi Arabia

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HOUSTON — Fixing the damage done by the drone attack on the Saudi oil processing plant may be the easy part. The hard part will be calming energy markets, where oil prices have jumped faster than at any time in over a decade.

The attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq plant, which accounts for 5 percent of global oil supplies, and a nearby facility took 5.7 million barrels a day of production off line for at least a few days. It also revealed the significant danger that drones pose to the Persian Gulf’s sprawling processing plants, pipelines and refineries.

“The psyche has been altered,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for Oil Price Information Service. “Now you have the thought, `What if the other shoe drops and we have a wider conflict.’”

For years, American and Saudi security analysts have worried about the Abqaiq plant, which removes sulfur impurities and makes crude oil less volatile so it can be safely exported on tankers. Without Abqaiq, much of the oil that Saudi Arabia produces at its giant Ghawar and Shaybah oil fields would have nowhere to go.

The facility has a heavily guarded perimeter, which was substantially fortified after several cars carrying Al Qaeda suicide bombers attacked it in 2006. Guards stopped those attackers before they reached the complex’s gates. But those security measures were not sufficient to stop the sophisticated weekend attack by multiple drones that crippled critical components of the facility.

While a production shortfall from an attack on one pipeline or refinery can often be replaced by others, it is not easy to make up for the loss of the processing capacity of Abqaiq, the largest facility of its kind in the world. The fires were quickly put out, and Saudi repairs have already begun. But a return to full capacity may take months, energy experts said.

“This changes the oil markets psychologically for a couple of years for sure now that everything is shown to be vulnerable,” said Dragan Vuckovic, president of Mediterranean International, an oil service company that works in Egypt and Iraq. “One drone can hit a refinery or an oil field installation and that causes fires, destruction and stops all production. It means less oil on the market and higher oil prices.”

Oil futures shot up 20 percent when trading began in Asia on Monday morning before falling back a little later in the day. It was still the biggest one-day oil price shock since Hurricane Katrina shut down production at Gulf Coast refineries in 2005, Mr. Kloza said.

The United States benchmark oil contract was up about $8 a barrel, or nearly 15 percent, to $62.75 on Monday afternoon. That is still about 7 percent below the price of a year ago. The global Brent oil benchmark also rose about 15 percent.

Prices might have jumped even more had global oil supplies not been bountiful, analysts said. It also helps that the global economy is slowing, oil production is surging in the United States and many industrialized nations have large strategic oil reserves.

The world has an estimated 90-day supply of oil available, and the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq have spare production capacity. New oil pipelines between West Texas and the Gulf Coast are near completion and will soon boost American exports to countries like South Korea and Japan that depend on Saudi crude. And producers that have been dropping rigs in recent months will likely drill more if prices stay elevated.

Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia attempted to quicken the pace of tanker traffic from its ports to cushion the market shock.

Rob Thummel, managing director at Tortoise Advisors, a firm that makes energy investments, predicted a price hike of between 10 and 20 percent until there is a complete assessment of the damage at the Saudi plant.

“In the long term, oil prices will likely add a geopolitical risk premium of at least $5 to $10 into the price until the odds of another strike are reduced,” he said.

Mr. Thummel projected that oil prices in the United States will settle at between $60 and $70 a barrel, which would lead to a roughly 25 cent increase in the retail price of gasoline.

Americans burn about 400 million gallons of gasoline a day, so a 25 cent increase would cost consumers about $100 million a day. The national average price for regular gasoline on Monday was $2.56 a gallon, 29 cents below a year ago. Experts say the drop in gas prices over the last year afforded consumers some extra disposable income — something that is now likely to disappear.

For many years, analysts believed that higher oil prices always hurt the American economy. But in recent years, that has changed. States like Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Colorado benefit when oil prices move up.

Higher prices also help smaller oil companies and oil service companies, which have been laying off workers and struggling to pay debts in recent months. The share prices of several oil and gas company stocks, including Carrizo Oil & Gas, Chesapeake Energy, Apache and Hess, jumped by more than 10 percent on Monday.

Higher oil prices could also reduce the trade deficit now that the United States is a major exporter.

Other potential beneficiaries are steel companies and other manufacturers that supply pipes and other equipment to the energy industry. The ethanol industry will also benefit, Mr. Kloza said, because biofuels will become more attractive relative to oil. That should help corn farmers in the Midwest.

That said, higher oil prices could further slow an already weak global economy, especially if the attack on Abqaiq leads to more violence in the Middle East.

“If a full-fledged war between Iran and Saudi Arabia breaks out, there would be no limit to how high prices could go,” said Jay Hatfield, portfolio manager at InfraCap MLP, an exchange-traded fund that invests in oil pipelines.

Even without a war, global supplies could get tighter. Pipelines in the United States remain congested, which will likely reduce daily releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve should the Trump administration decide to tap that resource. Other countries like Japan and Korea tend to be reluctant to tap their oil reserves, which they prefer to turn to only during full-blown crises.

President Trump said on Sunday that he has authorized a release of oil from the strategic reserve “if needed,” but his energy secretary, Rick Perry, told CNBC on Monday that the administration has not made a decision about tapping the reserve.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com