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Houthis attack Saudi oil sites

Houthi rebels in Yemen have attacked two oil stations in Saudi Arabia using drones.

Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said the drone strikes caused minor damage to one of the stations supplying a pipeline running from its oil-rich Eastern Province to the Yanbu Port on the Red Sea. The pipeline serves as an alternative export route for Saudi oil if the Strait of Hormuz were to be blocked, something which Iran has repeatedly threatened to do in the event of a military confrontation with the US.

Khalid al-Falih said the attack — along with the attack on two Saudi oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates which US officials blame on Iran — not only targeted the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, “but also the security of global oil supplies and the global economy.” Oil prices rose 1.2 per cent following the attack.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said seven drones carried out the strikes on the Saudi oil installations. He added: “It was a successful operation. We found assistance from people living in Saudi Arabia, and we had excellent intelligence.” Houthi-run Masirah TV said that the group had launched the attack in response to Saudi aggression and a blockade on Yemen, where a Saudi-led alliance has been at war with the Houthis and their allies since 2015.

Iran denies any involvement in the attack on the Saudi oil tankers. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused “some radical individuals inside the US administration and the region” of pursuing “dangerous policies” in an attempt to pull the Americans into a military conflict with Iran.

Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to the UK, said the Trump administration is playing a “very dangerous game” after the US deployed more military forces to the region. Hesameddin Ashena, adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, warned: “[Trump] wanted a better deal with Iran. Looks like you are going to get a war instead.”

On Monday the New York Times reported that acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented to top national security officials last week a military plan that involved sending up to 120,000 US troops to the Middle East in the event that Iran strikes US forces in the region or speeds up its nuclear programme.