The attack comes after U.S. President Donald Trump said a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was possible at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month. Tehran ruled out talks until sanctions are lifted.
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway did not rule out a possible meeting between the two but told “Fox News Sunday” that the strikes “did not help” that prospect.
Western officials working in the region wondered if the attacks might have been carried out by military hard-liners trying to derail Washington-Tehran diplomacy.
The attack on the world’s largest oil processing plant early Saturday morning is a dramatic escalation in the confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia — even if the Iranians didn’t fire the drones or missiles responsible.
Several projectiles struck the Abqaiq plant, starting a series of fires that quickly took out nearly half Saudi’s oil production — 5% of the global daily output — and sparking fears about the security of the world’s oil supplies. It’s unclear when Abqaiq, which is operated by Saudi giant Aramco, will be fully operational again.
The strikes mark an apparent breakdown in Saudi defenses. The kingdom is among the world’s largest buyers of weapons and has Patriot missile batteries in the region of the oil facilities. The U.S. sent hundreds of fresh troops to Saudi Arabia this summer, most of them stationed in Prince Sultan Air Base southeast of Riyadh, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused Pompeo of engaging in deception. He wrote on Twitter: “Having failed at ‘max pressure’, @SecPompeo’s turning to ‘max deceit’ US & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory. Blaming Iran won’t end disaster.”
Earlier this year, after several limpet mine attacks on oil tankers in the Sea of Oman that disabled the vessels, the US also accused Iran. But it did not present any conclusive evidence.
Giving no evidence to back up his claims of Iran’s culpability for the drone attacks, Pompeo said: “We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks.”
But where did this attack originate and who was behind it?
President Donald Trump discussed easing sanctions on Iran to help secure a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly gathering in New York later this month, Bloomberg reported on September 11.
Both Saudi Arabia and Israel fear that Trump will strike a deal with Iran like Obama did before him. When John Bolton was fired as national security advisor the fear factor went through the roof and Israel sent ISIS to attack Saudi Arabia and blame Iran, in order to halt talks between Trump and Iran.
A source with knowledge of the incident told CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen late Saturday that preliminary indications were the drones/missiles “did not originate from Yemen and likely originated from Iraq.” A second source in the Gulf region told CNN that while there was no proof yet, the indications were that the attack originated in southern Iraq.
The Iraqi government Sunday issued a statement rejecting reports “about its land being used to attack Saudi oil facilities.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry rebuffed on Sunday any suggestion the country was involved. A ministry spokesman called the allegations “akin to the plots hatched by secret and intelligence services for damaging the image of a state to prepare the ground for a series of [hostile] measures in future.”
While not confirming it was behind the attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel is prepared to strike at pro-Iranian actors wherever they are considered a threat, including in Iraq.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
Assessing the value of the attacked oil facilities, Robert McNally, of US-based Rapidan Energy Group, said: “Abqaiq is perhaps the most critical facility in the world for oil supply. Oil prices will jump on this. If disruption to production is prolonged, a Strategic Petrol Reserves release from International Energy Agency (IEA) members seems both likely and sensible. If anything, the risk of tit-for-tat regional escalation, which pushes oil prices even higher, has just gone up significantly.”
New Saudi minister jokes oil outlook could drive him to Prozac
Abu Dhabi (AFP) – Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman brought some humor to his debut as the kingdom’s new oil minister Monday, joking that the industry outlook could drive him to take Prozac if he took it seriously.
Speaking at an international energy forum in Abu Dhabi where he was the star of the show just a day after being appointed by his father King Salman, the new minister deflected concerns over the health of the energy sector.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) last week lowered its growth forecast for oil demand for 2019 and 2020, blaming the ugly US-China trade dispute which has triggered fears of a global recession.
“If I (am) to be concerned with IEA projections, I’ll probably be on Prozac all the time,” Prince Abdulaziz said with a laugh, referring to the well-known antidepressant.
What does John Bolton’s departure mean for Israel?
WASHINGTON (JTA) — One week before Israelis go to the polls in their country’s second election this year, the Israeli prime minister went on live television with a promise that if re-elected, he is prepared to annex sensitive areas of the West Bank in “maximum coordination” with President Donald Trump. Netanyahu cited the U.S. leader’s “great faith in our friendship.”
Literally minutes later, Trump dropped a bombshell on Twitter with his announcement that he had requested the resignation of one of Israel’s closest allies in the White House and a leading proponent within the administration of a hard line against Iran: National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Worse, Trump said he was dumping Bolton because the two had “strong disagreements” on policy. Worse still, Trump’s secretary of state confirmed that the president was ready to meet with the president of Iran without preconditions.
But there were other tensions closer to Israel’s interests. Bolton has spearheaded American efforts to isolate Iran and pressed for a military response to the downing by Iran of an American drone over the summer — a strike that Trump approved and then abruptly called off.
Then last month, Netanyahu reportedly scrambled to intervene after reports emerged of a possible meeting between Trump and Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, who made a surprise appearance at the G7 meeting in France.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking Tuesday afternoon at a hastily convened news conference to tamp down speculation about Bolton’s firing, said Trump was open to meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the upcoming U.N. General Assembly.
“Sure, the president’s made very clear, he’s prepared to meet with no preconditions,” Pompeo said.
Israelis fear a Trump-Rouhani meeting would play out much like the summits between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in which the president trumpets his closeness with the autocratic leader even as North Korea’s arms testing continues.
On Twitter, Bolton contradicted Trump and insisted he had quit. Pompeo and Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, both took shots at Bolton, with Mnuchin citing Bolton’s backing for the 2003 Iraq War as one of the reasons for his firing — as if that was not evident when Bolton became national security adviser in 2018.
Notably, Bolton got a fond farewell from the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group that has otherwise enthusiastically embraced the Trump presidency in the last year.
“Thank you for your longstanding friendship, moral clarity and passionate defense of America and our allies, especially Israel,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said on Twitter.
Netanyahu stridently opposed former President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and has boasted he persuaded Trump to withdraw from the pact last year. His bet on Trump has looked more risky in recent weeks, however, as messages emanate from Washington about possible Trump-Rouhani talks at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month.
Israel’s big fear is that Bolton’s departure will be followed by the easing of Washington’s tough sanctions campaign in a bid to entice Iranian leaders to enter negotiations, an Israeli official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Trump was prepared to meet Rouhani “with no preconditions.” Asked if he foresees a meeting this month, Pompeo said “sure.”
“It’s bad news for Israel,” said Chuck Freilich, former Israeli deputy national security adviser. “It’s certainly bad news for Bibi as far as Iran goes, for those who take a hard position on Iran,” he added, referring to Netanyahu by his widely used nickname.
“Trump is going to talk with the Iranians over Bibi’s head,” said Israeli political rival Yair Lapid, a leader of the Blue and White centrist bloc, in a Facebook video Tuesday. “It seems this whole legend of Netanyahu’s special ties with Trump is blowing up before our eyes.”
Now that Bolton has been kicked out of the White House, the Israelis again are sad and scared because they lost one of their guys. As Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency himself puts it, “a broader concern for Israel could be the reinforcement of Trump’s isolationist tendencies. Bolton was often seen as agitating for a more robust American military posture, a tendency Trump has resisted. ”
The Neocons and Israelis are also worried because it seems that no one will be able to push for the United States to invade Iran. Bloomberg itself tells us that “Israel Fears Abrupt Trump Reversal on Iran After Bolton Fired.” We are told that “Bolton’s exit delivered a blow to Israel’s policy of isolating and economically clobbering the Islamic Republic.”
Danielle Pletka, a vice president at the American Enterprise Institute (Bolton works there), lamented: “There are people in the president’s inner circle who disagree with American global leadership. There are people inside the White House who think defense spending and foreign aid are money wasted and we should deal with things at home.”
This is strange, isn’t it? How can peace, not war, be a bad deal for Israel?
Well, it is because Benjamin Netanyahu and the entire Israeli Mafia aren’t interested in peace. They are interested in drinking the blood of other people in the Middle East. They are interested in perpetuating lies, fabrications, hoaxes, and just plain deceptions in order to get America and much of the West into another disaster.
Iran has no reason to do this at this time. Countries are currently considering releasing 15-20 billion of credit to help their economy. Iran also had no reason to attack that Japanese oil tanker two months ago, when on that exact day the Japanese Ambassador was in Tehran negotiating an oil deal. In the end, it will be proven that the U.S, Israeli’s and Saudi’s are behind all this, desperate attempts by the Trump administration to get us into a war, before the election.
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