This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Iran for drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil production facilities, saying Tehran had “launched an unprecedented attack” on global energy supplies.
The oil-processing sites in eastern Saudi Arabia were targeted by drones early on September 14.
“There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” Pompeo said in a Twitter post in which he also accused Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of engaging in false diplomacy.
“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rohani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy,” Pompeo said in the Twitter post.
Pompeo said that “amid all the calls for de-escalation” of tensions in the Persian Gulf region, “Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”
“We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks,” he said. “The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression.”
The predawn attacks, which sparked large blazes at the Abqaiq and Khurais oil-processing facilities, were claimed by Iranian-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen.
The production sites are crucial to crucial to global energy supplies. The attacks came as Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant, Saudi Aramco, prepares for a much-anticipated initial public offering on the stock market.
That stock market listing forms the cornerstone of a reform program proposed by Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, aimed at weaning the Saudi economy off its reliance on oil.
Saudi Aramco — the world’s most profitable company — describes its Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq as “the largest crude oil stabilization plant in the world.”
A Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Iranian-backed Huthi rebels since March 2015.
The September 14 attacks highlight how the increasingly advanced weaponry of the Iranian-backed Huthi rebels — from ballistic missiles to unmanned drones — poses a serious threat to oil installations in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter.
The drone strikes drew swift condemnation from the United States, the United Nations, and Riyadh’s Gulf allies — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Kuwait.
U.S. President Donald Trump offered Prince Muhammad “his support for Saudi Arabia’s self-defense,” the White House said.
That followed an earlier statement from Riyadh saying the crown prince told Trump the kingdom was “”willing and able” to respond to the attacks claimed by the Yemeni rebels.
“The United States Government is monitoring the situation and remains committed to ensuring global oil markets are stable and well supplied,” the U.S. statement said.