7 Monday, September 16, 2019 12:54

How drone attacks on Saudi Aramco might blow up US-Iran tensions

Smoke is seen following a fire at an Aramco facility in the eastern city of Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia [Reuters] Highly disruptive drone attacks on Aramco oil facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia are arguably the most significant military operation yet against the US-allied kingdoms critical infrastructure.

Saturdays attacks on petroleum and gas processing plants in Khurais and Abqaiq, which Yemens Iran-allied Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for, knocked down approximately 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of total Saudi oil output.That is over five percent of global crude supply, a deficit which will take weeks rather than days to remedy and is likely to drive up international oil prices.

The high-profile aerial offensives are bound to further escalate mounting tensions between Iran and its mostly non-state allies in the region on the one hand, and the United States and its close partners Saudi Arabia and Israel on the other. The US has already pointed the finger of blame at Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Tehran of having launched an unprecedented attack on the worlds energy supply, while President Donald Trump later said the US is locked and loaded, and is waiting to hear from Riyadh about who attacked its oil facilities.

Meanwhile, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) promised to confront and deal with this terrorist aggression. Iran denied the US allegations that it was behind the attacks and said the claims were meant to justify actions against it.Saudi oil attacks: Iran rejects US accusation (4:45)The escalation is likely to scupper chances of diplomacy and negotiations between Washington and Tehran over a crumbling nuclear deal signed in 2015 between Iran and world powers.

The US unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions on Irans oil industry and banking sector as part of a maximum pressure campaign against it. In response, Tehran has taken a series of steps to scale back commitments to the accord.

The operation fits Irans tit-for-tat pattern of resisting the US since it started to downgrade its JCPOA commitments, Erwin van Veen, a senior research fellow at Clingendaels Conflict Research Unit in the Netherlands, told Al Jazeera.We saw a significant escalation of US-condoned Israeli air strikes across Lebanon, Iraq and Syria, he said, referring to a succession of attacks last month against Iranian-backed forces in the three countries.

Iran can only counter them asymmetrically and this is the response to the US, kind of to call off your attack dog.Two scenariosShortly after the Aramco attacks, the Houthis, who have been fighting a four-plus-year war of attrition in Yemen against a Saudi-led and US-backed military coalition supporting Yemeni government forces, claimed responsibility and described the offensive as their right to retaliate the air strikes and the targeting of our civilians.

.Yahya Saree, a Houthi spokesman, told the rebel-backed.....

News Code: 353247  |  aljazeera
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