Riad describes the action as a “terrorist act” and points to Iran’s responsibility for its support for the Huthi.
Saudi Arabia has said on Tuesday that drones loaded with explosives have damaged oil infrastructure in the center of the country. Just hours earlier, Yemen’s Huthi rebels had announced an operation with such drones against “vital facilities” of the kingdom. The attack, which the energy minister has called a “cowardly terrorist act”, comes two days after a sabotage against two Saudi oil tankers and two other vessels off the coasts of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and in the midst of a growing tension with Iran.
Although neither in the case of the ships nor in the case of the oil installations there have been casualties or great material damage, both incidents happen in the midst of a psychological war between Iran and the United States. Iran denied on Tuesday any relationship with the sabotage against the ships and the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, affirmed that “there will be no war” with the US, because he will “be forced to retreat”. “We are not looking for war, nor are they looking for it. They know it would not go in their favor, “he said. In the last week, Tehran has suspended some of its nuclear commitments in response to the strengthening of US sanctions that prevent it from selling oil, and Washington has sent an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and a battery of Patriot missiles to the area due to ” Clear signs that Iranian forces and their affiliates are preparing an attack on US forces. ”
“Two pumping stations of the East-West pipeline have been attacked by armed drones which has caused a fire and small damages. The fire has already been contained, “explained the energy minister of the world’s largest oil exporter, Khalid al Falih, in a statement released by state media.
The East-West oil pipeline transports crude oil from the Eastern Province to the port of Yanbu, on the Red Sea coast, from where it is sent to European customers. Although Saudi Aramco has temporarily closed that drive to evaluate its status, the minister has assured that neither the production nor the export of oil have been interrupted.
“It is an act of terrorism and sabotage that adds to the recent attacks in the Arabian Gulf [as the Arabs call the Persian Gulf] and which not only aims at the kingdom, but also the security of the world’s oil supply and the global economy, “Al Falih has defended. “These attacks prove once again the importance of facing terrorist entities, including the Huthi militias of Yemen supported by Iran,” he added, throwing both incidents in the same bag and pointing to his main rival for hegemony in the region. .
The bombing took place between six and six thirty in the morning in the districts of Dawadmi and Afif, west of Riyadh, as the State Security Presidency (the main secret service) later specified.
Shortly before Al Falih communicated, a television network under Huthi control, Al Masirah, had announced that “seven drones had attacked Saudi vital facilities”, although without identifying the targets. “This extensive military operation is a response to the continuous aggression and blockade of our people, and we are prepared to carry out unique and tougher actions,” said an official quoted by the station, according to the Reuters translation. However, the rebels have completed today as planned their planned withdrawal from the port of Hodeida, vital for the entry of food, fuel and medicine, as confirmed by the UN.
The Huthi, who took control of Sana’a at the end of 2014, have attacked Saudi Arabia with missiles and drones in response to the military campaign launched by Riyadh, a few months later, to re-establish the government of Abdrabo Mansur Hadi. The ensuing war has put Yemen on the brink of famine and unleashed an unparalleled humanitarian crisis. But although Yemeni rebellion rockets have caused a hundred deaths in the kingdom, especially in the border regions, it is the first time that Aramco recognizes damage to its facilities. Last July, that company briefly suspended the transport of crude through the Bab el Mandeb strait as a result of one of its oil tankers being hit by Huthi fire in the Red Sea.
No one has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s bizarre sabotage, which happened 1,700 nautical miles (about 3,000 kilometers) off the Yemeni coast controlled by the rebels. The Saudi Energy Minister said on Monday that the two oil tankers in his country had suffered “significant damage”. The images obtained by the journalists only show a hole in the hull of a third vessel, the Norwegian ship Andrea Victory, whose consignee said that it was “damaged by an undetermined object”.
Neither Saudi Arabia nor Arab Emirates have explained what happened. Nor have they directly accused anyone, although their allusions (and their propagandists) point to Iran. In the absence of the preliminary results of the investigation opened by Abu Dhabi, US experts who collaborate in it have leaked to media in his country that believe that Tehran or groups he supports used explosives to damage the four ships. The sources say that in all of them there is a big hole, but they have not explained the relationship with the Islamic Republic.
Iran has denied any connection with the sabotage and its foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has alerted in New Delhi, where he is on an official visit against “the policies that extremist individuals in the American Government and in the region are trying to impose” in the East Next. The minister recalled that in April he predicted the possibility of “accidents” due to what he calls Team B, by the initials of (John) Bolton (US National Security Advisor), Bibi (Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister) , (Mohamed) Bin Zayed and (Mohamed) Bin Salmán (strong men from the Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, respectively). The four are credited with seeking a regime change in Tehran.