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Saudi Arabia and Iran Make Quiet Openings to Head Off War

Westlake Legal Group 05saudi-iran-facebookJumbo Saudi Arabia and Iran Make Quiet Openings to Head Off War Zarif, Mohammad Javad Yemen United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States United Nations United Arab Emirates Trump, Donald J Syria Saudi Arabia Rouhani, Hassan Persian Gulf Pakistan Mohammed bin Salman (1985- ) Middle East Mahdi, Adel Abdul Larijani, Ali Khan, Imran Jubeir, Adel al- Israel Iraq Iran Indyk, Martin S Houthis General Assembly (UN) Defense and Military Forces

After years of growing hostility and competition for influence, Saudi Arabia and Iran have taken steps toward indirect talks to try to reduce the tensions that have brought the Middle East to the brink of war, according to officials from several countries involved in the efforts.

Even the prospect of such talks represents a remarkable turnaround, coming only a few weeks after a coordinated attack on Saudi oil installations led to bellicose threats in the Persian Gulf. Any reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran could have far-reaching consequences for conflicts across the region.

It was President Trump’s refusal to retaliate against Iran for the Sept. 14 attack, analysts say, that set off unintended consequences, prompting Saudi Arabia to seek its own solution to the conflict. That solution, in turn, could subvert Mr. Trump’s effort to build an Arab alliance to isolate Iran.

In recent weeks, officials of Iraq and Pakistan said, the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, asked the leaders of those two countries to speak with their Iranian counterparts about de-escalation.

Iran welcomed the gestures, stating privately and publicly that it was open to talks with Saudi Arabia.

In a statement to The New York Times on Friday, the Saudi government acknowledged that Iraq and Pakistan had offered to mediate talks between the two countries but denied that Prince Mohammed had taken the initiative.

“Efforts at de-escalation must emanate from the party that began the escalation and launched attacks, not the kingdom,” the statement said.

Distrust between the two Middle Eastern powers remains intense, and the prospect of high-level direct talks any time soon appears remote. But even a slight warming could echo far outside their respective borders, where their rivalry fuels political divides from Lebanon to Yemen.

Iran has long wanted to wrest the Saudis from their alliance with Iran’s archenemies, Israel and the United States, which are waging a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran to try to force it to restrict its nuclear program and stop backing militias in the region.

Iran’s receptiveness for contact with the Saudis contrasts with its chilly tone toward the United States. Last week, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, dodged an opportunity to speak directly with Mr. Trump while both were attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The new overtures between Saudi Arabia and Iran began in the aftermath of last month’s drone and cruise missile strikes on two Saudi oil facilities, which Saudi Arabia and the United States accused Iran of orchestrating.

Despite tough threats by the Trump administration, the president declined to order a military response. The demurral raised questions for the Saudis about the American commitment to Saudi security, which has underpinned the strategic layout of the Persian Gulf for decades.

Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan met with Prince Mohammed, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, in Jeddah last month. Days later, while Mr. Khan was at the General Assembly, he told reporters that Prince Mohammed had asked him to talk to Iran.

Prince Mohammed told Mr. Khan, “I want to avoid war,” according to a senior Pakistani official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. “He asked the prime minister to get involved.”

Mr. Khan then spoke with Mr. Rouhani on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

The Iraqi prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, visited Saudi Arabia a few days after Mr. Khan did.

A senior Iraqi official said that Prince Mohammed asked Mr. Abdul Mahdi to mediate with Iran, and that Iraq had suggested Baghdad as the venue for a potential meeting.

“There is a big response from Saudi Arabia and from Iran and even from Yemen,” Mr. Abdul Mahdi told journalists in Iraq after his return from the kingdom. “And I think that these endeavors will have a good effect.”

Iran endorsed the idea.

“Iran is open to starting a dialogue with Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region,” Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s Parliament, told Al Jazeera in an interview broadcast on Tuesday. “An Iranian-Saudi dialogue,” he added, “could solve many of the region’s security and political problems.”

While they explore back-channel possibilities, both sides have continued to stake out staunchly opposing public positions.

The Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia had not asked anyone to send messages to Iran. Instead, he wrote, other countries he did not identify had offered to serve as intermediaries.

“We informed them that the truce needs to come from the side that is escalating and spreading chaos through aggressive acts in the region,” Mr. al-Jubeir wrote.

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran said that his country would “definitely greet Saudi Arabia with open arms” — but only if it prioritized friendly relations with neighbors over purchasing weapons from the United States.

Iran has long sought to pull Saudi Arabia away from the United States and Israel. But it was the lack of an American military response to the strikes on Saudi oil facilities that appeared to have created an opening.

“There are cracks in the armor suggesting Saudi Arabia is interested in exploring a new relationship with Iran,” said Philip Gordon, a former White House coordinator for the Middle East. “The worst outcome for the Saudis is to move to a confrontation with Iran expecting the U.S. to support them and find out they won’t.”

He added, “This administration has shown it’s not really ready to take on Iran.”

Top officials from Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, Saudi allies which could suffer if open conflict broke out, have spoken publicly of the need for diplomacy to reduce tensions and have made their own efforts to reach out to Iran. The Emirates has held direct maritime security talks with Iran, and has pulled back from the war in Yemen, where it is allied with the Saudis in a battle against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

If Saudi Arabia joins Kuwait and the Emirates in reaching out to Iran, it could undermine the Trump administration’s effort to build an international coalition to ostracize and pressure the Iranians.

“The anti-Iran alliance is not just faltering, it’s crumbling,” Martin Indyk, the executive vice president of Brookings Institution and a former senior diplomat, said Thursday on Twitter. “MBZ has struck his deal with Iran; MBS is not far behind,” he said, referring to the Emirati crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed, or MBZ, and the Saudi crown prince, known as MBS.

He also noted that Mr. Trump’s most hawkish anti-Iran adviser, John R. Bolton, had left the administration, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is fighting for his political life and Mr. Trump has shown a willingness to talk directly to the Iranians.

For the Saudis, even indirect talks with Iran would represent a significant departure from Prince Mohammed’s approach to his prime regional rival since his father, King Salman, ascended to the Saudi throne in 2015.

He has cast Iran as the root of the Middle East’s problems and argued that political and theological differences make negotiations impossible. He has compared Iran’s supreme leader to Hitler and threatened to instigate violence inside Iran’s borders.

“We are a primary target for the Iranian regime,” Prince Mohammed said in 2017. “We won’t wait for the battle to be in Saudi Arabia. Instead, we’ll work so that the battle is for them in Iran.”

His antipathy toward Iran gave him common cause with Israel and the Trump administration. The Saudis have pitched themselves as the United States’ greatest ally against Iran, proposing they carry out joint operations to weaken it and possibly bring about regime change, according to former United States officials.

But Prince Mohammed may now be more willing to explore a possible accommodation.

“We have reached the peak of Saudi-Iran tensions and both sides have concluded this balance of fear is detrimental to their interests,” said Saeed Shariati, a political analyst in Tehran.

For now, the rift appears wide, and possibly unbridgeable. The Saudis criticize Iran for backing militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, where the kingdom has been mired in a disastrous war against the Houthis for four years.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attacks on Saudi oil facilities that seem to have helped prompt the diplomatic initiatives, but many Western experts believed that the Houthis could not have carried out the strikes unassisted.

Mr. al-Jubeir said Tuesday that Iran needed to stop its ballistic missile program, refrain from interfering in Arab states and “act like a normal country, and not like a rogue who sponsors terrorism.”

For its part, Iran has called on Saudi Arabia to freeze its multibillion-dollar arms purchases from the United States, stop its intervention in Yemen and end discrimination against the Shiite Muslim minority in Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Muslim-led absolute monarchy.

At the General Assembly last week, Iran’s president, Mr. Rouhani, aimed part of his speech directly at Arab countries in the Persian Gulf.

“It’s the Islamic Republic of Iran who is your neighbor,” he said. “At the day of an event, you and us will be alone. We are each other’s neighbors, not America.”

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

Trump’s National Security Aides to Meet on Possible Iran Options

Westlake Legal Group 19dc-prexy-sub-facebookJumbo Trump’s National Security Aides to Meet on Possible Iran Options Yemen United States Defense and Military Forces United Nations Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Middle East Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Iran General Assembly (UN) Esper, Mark T Dunford, Joseph F Jr Defense Department

WASHINGTON — Senior national security officials from across the government are scheduled to meet Thursday to refine a list of potential targets to strike in Iran, should President Trump order a military retaliation for missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil fields last weekend, officials said.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are to present the updated options to Mr. Trump at a National Security Council meeting scheduled for Friday, a senior American official said.

In advance of being presented with the newest set of options, Mr. Trump has sent different signals on his intentions. He has threatened to order “the ultimate option” of a strike on Iran to punish the nation for its behavior, but also has made clear his continued opposition to ordering the United States into another war in the Middle East.

The Pentagon is advocating military strikes that one senior official described as at the lower end of options. The official said that any retaliation could focus on more clandestine operations — actions that military planners predict would not prompt an escalation by Iran.

These kinds of targets could include the sites where Iran launches cruise missiles and drones, and where the weaponry is stored. Under this scenario, the military option would include a diplomatic outreach campaign at the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week to muster support for the additional sanctions that Mr. Trump has ordered and other nonmilitary steps. Mr. Trump has said new sanctions against Iran will be put in place. A range of covert cyberoperations is also being discussed.

[A military strike against Iran would result in “an all-out war,” Iran’s foreign minister said Thursday.]

It remains unclear, though, whether the United States and Saudi Arabia could muster strong support at the United Nations, since the Saudis have been criticized for waging a war in Yemen that has caused civilian casualties and since Mr. Trump has faced strong criticism for pulling the United States out of a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran.

But the senior American official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, warned that Mr. Trump would also be presented with other options that are stronger, options that would require dispatching more forces to the Persian Gulf region.

The official offered no details on those targets, but presumably they could include Iranian oil facilities or targets involving Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Mr. Trump’s contradictory statements on Wednesday left senior Defense Department and military officers guessing about which course of action the president would choose.

Several issues might delay any immediate military action, officials said. First, Saudi Arabia is said to fear that any military response could rapidly escalate and lead to further attacks against the kingdom and its vulnerable oil facilities.

Another issue is that American military forensic specialists have only arrived in the past couple of days at the site of the attacks in Saudi Arabia. Their analysis of circuit boards recovered from one of the cruise missiles — which could provide valuable clues about the missile’s trajectory and flight path — is still underway. That information could be important to making a case as to who is responsible for the attacks.

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

Iran’s Foreign Minister Vows ‘All-Out War’ if U.S. or Saudis Strike

A military strike against Iran by the United States or Saudi Arabia would result in “an all-out war,” Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Thursday, repeating his government’s denial of responsibility for an attack last week that damaged Saudi oil facilities.

The Houthi rebel faction in Yemen — supported by Iran in its fight against a Saudi-led coalition — claimed responsibility for the Saturday attack. But Saudi and American officials blamed Iran, raising the threat of military retaliation. But so far it is not clear how they will react.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of carrying out an “act of war” with the aerial attacks, but President Trump has appeared reluctant to order a military strike.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 19saudi-iran2-articleLarge Iran’s Foreign Minister Vows ‘All-Out War’ if U.S. or Saudis Strike Zarif, Mohammad Javad Yemen United States Saudi Arabia Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Iran Houthis Defense and Military Forces

Saudi officials displayed on Wednesday what they said were parts from an Iranian cruise missile and drones used to attack its oil facilities.CreditAmr Nabil/Associated Press

“I’m making a very serious statement that we don’t want war; we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation,” Mr. Zarif told CNN in an interview. “But we won’t blink to defend our territory.”

Mr. Zarif said of the Houthis: “I cannot have any confidence that they did it, because we just had their statement. I know that we didn’t do it.”

Saudi officials said this week that they were examining drone and missile parts that they said were recovered from the attack sites. United States and Saudi officials said that the attack on the Abqaiq processing facility and Khurais oil field — viewed as the most destructive strike to Saudi Arabia since it opened an offensive in Yemen more than four years ago — did not come from the direction of Yemen, in the south, but from the direction of Iran, in the north.

The kingdom’s oil production fell more than 50 percent in the aftermath of the attacks.

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

Bob Seely: Iran seeks to hit the West where it hurts – at the petrol pumps

Bob Seely is MP for the Isle of Wight.

Is Iran pushing up the price of oil as an act of policy – a political and economic weapon, if you like – in its proxy war against Saudi Arabia and the US?  That is one likely conclusion after the drone attacks last weekend which hit two major oil Saudi refineries.

Iran’s allies in Yemen, the Houthi, claimed that they had launched armed drones on Saturday, striking Abqaiq oil processing plant, the world’s largest, and the oilfield of Khurais. However, there seems little doubt that this attack would not be sanctioned without Iranian support, and indeed it is almost certainly an Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia, using the Houthi as a ‘deniable’ fig leaf.

These strikes were the latest escalation in the Iran crisis. So why did this happen? Is the timing significant, and what does it tell us about Iranian foreign policy?

In May 2018, President Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran Nuclear Deal – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – whereby Iran agreed to limit its nuclear development and allow in international inspectors in return for a lifting of sanctions. European states, including the UK, remain committed to the deal, although some in our country oppose it.

New US sanctions since, targeting energy, shipping and finance, have hit the Iranian economy hard, even surprising some in the US with their effectiveness. In response, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has decided on a course of using “pressure tools” against Washington.

Iran’s foreign policy is now simple: if we are suffering, we will find ways of making others suffer too. The Iran crisis is being internationalised.

Since the Spring the crisis has escalated. In May, Iran said it would withdraw from elements of the deal. In June, Iran seized a UK-registered tanker. There have been other attacks on US military bases in Iraq.

This weekend’s drone attack is one of the most high-profile examples in recent years of what military experts call asymmetric warfare. It’s a new name for the sort of warfare which has been practiced for centuries. It’s roughly defined as warfare tactics used by the weak which target the vulnerability of the strong.

Western states are still technologically dominant. Iran cannot match our technology. It does not need to do so. It can target our weaknesses. In this case it is dependence on Saudi oil, nervousness over the world economy and the threat of an ‘oil shock’ that could tip the world into recession.

Whilst a single drone attack will not have a profound effect on oil prices, it has made markets nervous. Oil prices rose sharply on Monday – 15 percent – returning prices to where they were in the Spring. Even Monday’s one-off attack will add 20 cents to petrol prices. In the US, that will like cost families an $18 at the petrol pump. It is not impossible that price hike will result in political hit for President Trump, with one analyst arguing that a prolonged price increase could led to Republican voters staying at home. If Iran is conducting these attacks with an eye on US politics, it will be following the malign example set by Russia, which manipulated the 2016 US Presidential elections.

The attack has also exposed the vulnerability of Saudi oil fields, which may now delay the floating of the Saudi oil giant, Aramco. The attack hit five percent of world oil production, some 5.7 million barrels a day.

Iran’s threat to destabilise oil prices may be the most powerful card it has, and it is now playing it. It may also explain the reluctance of Saudi and the US to take military action in response to what is to all intents an attack by one state on another that, without the Houthi figleaf, would expect a military response.

What next? Until the Iranian regime is changed – virtually impossible – or Iran backs down – unlikely but not impossible – or a version of the JCPOA is readopted, this crisis will worsen. Iran has proxies and allies in several countries: Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. They could be influenced to strike targets that will hurt the Western states. Iranian small boat swarms may attack, seize or sink more tankers in the Persian Gulf. There is the remote chance of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks in Western states. Iran may seize more Western hostages in its country and hold them hostage.

Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, has outlined 12 US demands. Some of these are unrealistic, but there is some chance for a more modest set of US proposals being put forward that Iran could sign up to, or at least use as the basis for negotiation.

For the UK, we are aligned in military policy with the US, and with Europe in our continued support for the JCPOA. It is an increasingly difficult path to follow as the threat of overt as well as covert warfare increases. Without resolution, a more generalised crisis is only a matter of time.

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

To Find Clues in Saudi Oil Attacks, U.S. Examines Missile and Drone Parts

WASHINGTON — American intelligence analysts and military investigators are examining a missile guidance mechanism recovered in Saudi Arabia that may provide clues as to the missile’s origins and flight path, as they continue gathering information to make the administration’s case that Iran was responsible for last weekend’s attack against Saudi oil facilities.

Analysts are poring over satellite imagery of the damage sites, and assessing radar tracks of at least some of the low-flying cruise missiles that were used. Communication intercepts from before and after the attacks are being reviewed to see if they implicate Iranian officials.

And, perhaps most important, forensic analysis is underway of missile and drone parts from the attack sites. The Saudis have recovered pristine circuit boards from one of the cruise missiles that fell short of its target, providing forensics specialists the possibility of tracing the missile’s point of origin, according to a senior American official briefed on the intelligence.

Within the administration, there is much discussion over what retaliatory action to take, if any, and whether such a response would appear to be doing the Saudis’ bidding. The question is a challenging one for President Trump, who first declared after the attacks that the United States was “locked and loaded,” but then softened his tone and said he would like to avoid conflict.

The attack is viewed as the most destructive strike to Saudi Arabia since it opened an offensive in Yemen more than four years ago. By Monday, the damage in Saudi Arabia helped drive world oil prices up 10 percent, the speediest increase in more than a decade. The attack closed facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais, which are responsible for most of the crude oil produced by the kingdom, the supplier of about a tenth of the worldwide total.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have presented Mr. Trump with an array of military options — presumably both bombing targets such as the missile-launching sites and storage areas and covert cyber operations that could disable or disrupt Iran’s oil infrastructure.

A big concern is to ensure that any strikes be proportional and not escalate the conflict, particularly with world leaders gathering in New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly. Officials also voiced worry about the cost of doing nothing, at least openly, in response to attacks that have cut in half the oil production of one of Washington’s main allies in the Middle East.

American officials say they have no doubt that the drones and missiles used in the attacks were Iranian technology and components. But they have not yet released information on whether the strikes were planned and directed by Iran, and launched by Iran’s proxies in the region — or whether they actually were launched from Iranian territory.

Intelligence officials have ruled out Yemen as the origin of the attacks and do not believe they emanated from Iraq, either. That leaves Iran or possibly some vessel in the northern Persian Gulf as the staging ground.

Several American military and intelligence officials said they believed they would ultimately conclude that the attacks were launched from Iran. Officials have said Iran is almost certainly behind the strike, given the scope, scale and precision of the attacks.

One theory gaining traction is that the cruise missiles were launched from Iran and programmed to fly around the northern Persian Gulf through Iraqi air space instead of directly across the gulf where the United States has much better surveillance, the senior official said. But that has not been confirmed.

Westlake Legal Group saudi-oil-attack-promo-1568672150666-articleLarge-v2 To Find Clues in Saudi Oil Attacks, U.S. Examines Missile and Drone Parts Yemen Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Iran General Assembly (UN) Esper, Mark T Dunford, Joseph F Jr Defense Department

Who Was Behind the Saudi Oil Attack? What the Evidence Shows

American officials have offered only satellite photos, which analysts said were insufficient to prove where the attack came from, which weapons were used and who fired them.

The rulers of Saudi Arabia appear in no rush to pinpoint the source of the attack or call for any specific response.

A Saudi military spokesman said Monday that the kingdom’s initial investigation had indicated that the weapons were Iranian-made and that the attack was not launched from Yemen. But so far the Saudis have lagged American officials in their willingness to openly blame Iran for carrying out the attack.

Underscoring its go-slow approach, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it intended to invite the United Nations and other international experts to visit the site of the attacks and participate in the investigations. “The kingdom will take appropriate measures based on the results of the investigation,” the statement said, suggesting that the Saudis would wait a prolonged period before taking action.

Analysts said Saudi Arabia might be reluctant to engage in a military confrontation before confirming the American response. The rulers of the kingdom may also be worried because the attack demonstrated ominous vulnerabilities in their air defense systems. Although Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest spenders in the world on military hardware, the damage from Saturday’s airstrike suggested scant preparation for a full-fledged air war.

Saudi rulers have at least once actively covered up an Iranian attack inside the kingdom to avoid making accusations that could lead to a clash. After a terrorist bombing at the Khobar Towers complex killed 19 United States Air Force personnel in 1996, scholars say, the Saudis deliberately sought to obfuscate Iran’s responsibility in an attempt to avoid a military conflict. (The United States still ultimately concluded that Iran was responsible.)

Michael J. Morell, a former acting director of the C.I.A., said in remarks at a speech in Northern Virginia on Monday night that if Iran was found responsible for directing or carrying out the attacks, that would amount to an act of war and the United States would “need to respond.”

Mr. Morell, who said he had no inside information, said he favored some kind of proportional military strike, perhaps against Iranian missile sites and storage areas but not against Iranian oil infrastructure.

Adm. Michael G. Mullen, who retired from the military after serving as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted the danger of the situation because there was little effective way to communicate with the Iranians to avoid escalation and misjudgment.

“It’s a situation ripe with the possibility of miscalculation,” he said. “We have not had a good line of communication with Iran since 1979, so if something happens, the odds of us getting it right are pretty small.”

Mr. Morell said it would be important to have allies such as Britain and France join any retaliation so the United States was not going it alone.

France has no evidence showing where drones that attacked the Saudi oil facilities came from, the French foreign minister said on Tuesday.

“Up to now France doesn’t have evidence to say that these drones came from one place or another, and I don’t know if anyone has evidence,” the minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, told reporters in Cairo.

Several top administration and military officials said they remained keenly aware of Mr. Trump’s reluctance to carry out military strikes that could pull the United States into a larger, longer conflict in the Middle East.

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

U.S. Examining Missile and Drone Parts for Clues in Saudi Oil Attacks

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-military1-facebookJumbo U.S. Examining Missile and Drone Parts for Clues in Saudi Oil Attacks Yemen Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Iran General Assembly (UN) Esper, Mark T Dunford, Joseph F Jr Defense Department

WASHINGTON — American intelligence analysts and military investigators are examining a missile guidance mechanism recovered in Saudi Arabia that may provide clues as to the missile’s origins and flight path, as they continue gathering information to make the administration’s case that Iran was responsible for last weekend’s attack against Saudi oil facilities.

Analysts are poring over satellite imagery of the damage sites, and assessing radar tracks of at least some of the low-flying cruise missiles that were used. Communication intercepts from before and after the attacks are being reviewed to see if they implicate Iranian officials.

And, perhaps most important, forensic analysis is underway of missile and drone parts from the attack sites, including at least one mostly intact cruise missile recovered from the area, officials said.

American military investigators are in Saudi Arabia working with counterparts to examine the guidance mechanism in the cruise missile that was recovered. Investigators are hoping they can trace the missile’s flight path, using data in the guidance system, back to its origin — possibly to precise geographic coordinates.

Within the administration, there is much discussion over what retaliatory action to take, if any, and whether such a response would appear to be just doing the Saudis’ bidding.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have presented President Trump with an array of military options — presumably both bombing targets such as the missile-launching sites and storage areas and covert cyber operations that could disable or disrupt Iran’s oil infrastructure.

A big concern is to ensure that any strikes be proportional and not escalate the conflict, particularly with world leaders gathering in New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly. Officials also voiced worry about the cost of doing nothing, at least openly, in response to attacks that have cut in half the oil production of one of Washington’s main allies in the Middle East.

American officials say they have no doubt that the drones and missiles used in the attacks were Iranian technology and components. But they have not yet released information on whether the strikes were planned and directed by Iran, and launched by Iran’s proxies in the region — or whether they actually were launched from Iranian territory.

Intelligence officials have ruled out Yemen as the origin of the attacks and do not believe they emanated from Iraq, either. That leaves Iran or possibly some vessel in the northern Persian Gulf as the staging ground.

Several American military and intelligence officials said they believed they would ultimately conclude that the attacks were launched from Iran. Officials have said Iran is almost certainly behind the strike, given the scope, scale and precision of the attacks.

Michael Morell, a former acting director of the C.I.A., said in remarks at a speech in Northern Virginia on Monday night that if Iran was found responsible for directing or carrying out the attacks, that would amount to an act of war and the United States would “need to respond.”

Mr. Morell, who said he had no inside information, said he favored some kind of proportional military strike, perhaps against Iranian missile sites and storage areas but not against Iranian oil infrastructure. He also said it would be important to have allies such as Britain and France join any retaliation so it was not just the United States going it alone.

France has no evidence showing where drones that attacked the Saudi oil facilities came from, the French foreign minister said on Tuesday.

“Up to now France doesn’t have evidence to say that these drones came from one place or another, and I don’t know if anyone has evidence,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters in Cairo.

Several top administration and military officials said they remained keenly aware of Mr. Trump’s reluctance to carry out military strikes that could pull the United States into a larger, longer conflict in the Middle East.

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.

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

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.

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

Saudis Say Oil Facilities Were Hit With Iranian Weapons

Saudi Arabia said Monday that Iranian weapons had been used in the aerial strikes over the weekend that interrupted much of the kingdom’s oil production. It also said the attacks had not been launched from Yemen, home of the Houthi rebel faction that has claimed responsibility.

The Saudi assertions, made without offering supporting evidence, appeared to move the kingdom closer to blaming Iran, a chief ally of the Houthis. The attacks on Saturday were the most audacious and damaging blow to Saudi Arabia in the four and a half years of civil war in Yemen.

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 that 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.

“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?”

Video

Westlake Legal Group 14saudi-1-videoSixteenByNine3000 Saudis Say Oil Facilities Were Hit With Iranian Weapons 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

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.

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

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160847475_b46b1514-31d5-4185-8e52-54a74ab571a7-articleLarge Saudis Say Oil Facilities Were Hit With Iranian Weapons 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

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.

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