Thursday, 14 November, 2019

Pompeo says USA backs Saudi Arabia's 'right to defend itself'

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman in Jeddah on Wednesday. — Reuters US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman in Jeddah on Wednesday. — Reuters
Russell Knight | 19 September, 2019, 12:43

Trump's administration is considering responses to the latest attack, including a cyber attack or a physical strike on Iranian oil infrastructure or its Revolutionary Guards, NBC News reported, citing unnamed USA officials.

Some of Trump's closest allies in the U.S. Congress urged more than sanctions. Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the kingdom would aim to ramp up oil and gas production as fast as possible.

At a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi military spokesman Col.

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, says the United States is considering a "suite of options" in response to Iran's alleged responsibility for drone attack on Saudi Arabia's oil fields. Both Iran and Iraq are to the north of Saudi Arabia.

Al-Malki stopped short of accusing Iran of actually firing the weapons itself or launching them from Iranian territory.

Iran warned the United States that it would broadly retaliate against any attacks in the wake of crippling strikes on the Saudi oil industry over the weekend, Iranian news agencies reported Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia presented its case that they say implicates Iran, although as the New York Times pointed out, the evidence didn't appear to be definitive proof either. CBS News correspondent Ian Lee said the Saudis had also committed to joining a USA -backed force to protect vital shipping lanes and oil facilities in and around the Persian Gulf.

The Houthi version of the missile does not have the range to target the Eastern Province, which leaves the possibility of the cruise missiles originating in Iran, or an even more unlikely scenario of the Soumars being launched from Yemen.

A set of complex issues related to different Iranian and Houthi weapons systems and other forensic evidence surrounding the destruction at Abqaiq will be the center of attention in the coming days.

Twenty-five pilotless aircraft and cruise missiles were used to attack the two sites, Maliki told reporters gathered in Riyadh. It was on their soil.

Once the facts that the Aramco attack was a war act by Tehran are shown to the world, worldwide partners will be forced to choose "collective action".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is greeted by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman in Jeddah on Wednesday. — Reuters
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is greeted by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman in Jeddah on Wednesday. — Reuters

Oil prices have see-sawed since the attacks, with record gains Monday followed by a tumble Tuesday as the Saudi assurances on supplies soothed the markets.

With that said, the next question is how Saudi Arabia, and perhaps the United States, might respond.

Al-Malki did not directly blame Iran for the attack when asked by journalists.

FILE - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves during ceremony attended by Iranian clerics in Tehran, July 16, 2019.

Relations between Washington and Tehran have soured since Trump withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal past year and reimposed sanctions over the country's nuclear and ballistic-missile programs. It added that Iran's response wouldn't be limited to the source of the threat, suggesting it would inflict damage beyond what it had suffered.

"We're locked and loaded, and we're ready to defend our interests and our allies in the region, make no mistake about it", Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday.

He did not elaborate, and it was not immediately clear what further means are available since he has already cut deeply into Iran's oil market.

Saudi military spokesman Col. Rouhani and his foreign minister may not attend the General Assembly at all if US visas are not issued in coming hours, state media reported Wednesday. The U.N. meeting had been considered an opportunity for direct talks between the leaders that, amid a summer of heightened tensions, could resolve the crisis.

But it does give a signal here that you're no fan of the Saudi leadership - and many are not, I get that - but more of a fan of the leadership in Iran. "But I would certainly not want to keep people out if they want to come".

As the host of the UN's headquarters, the U.S. is mandated to offer world leaders and diplomats visas to attend meetings there.

We dealt with them in the Obama administration in ways that I'm sure Danielle would disagree with, but it's not as if we consider them to be benign.

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