Pompeo says United States building anti-Iran coalition after Saudi oil attack

Andrew Cummings
September 20, 2019

He said USA forensics teams are on the ground working with the Saudis to get a definitive assessment of the source and scope of the attacks, which initially knocked out about half of the Saudi oil production. Saudi officials on Wednesday presented drone and missile wreckage, which they said proved Iran was responsible.

"This is an attack of a scale we've just not seen before", Pompeo told reporters before landing in Jeddah for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Senate Democrats have warned Trump against any attack on Iran, saying he would need authorization from Congress.

Any decision on retaliation against Iran may depend on what kind of evidence the USA and Saudi investigators are able to provide to back claims that the September 14 cruise-missile and drone strike was launched by Iran.

"I am making a very serious statement that we don't want to engage in a military confrontation...." For years, Iran has said that no Persian Gulf countries would succeed in exporting oil if the United States reduces the Islamic republic's oil exports to zero.

Iran has denied responsibility for the drone and missile strike Saturday on the Aramco facility at Abqaiq and oil fields that destroyed half of Saudi Arabia's daily output. He ordered increased sanctions on Tehran. USA and Saudi officials rejected the claim, saying the attack had not come from the south.

The U.S.is awaiting a final assessment from the Saudis on "where they believe the attacks came from", said Jonathan Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, adding that the assessment will take some time. "We're supporting their investigation", he said.

Oil prices, which soared following the attack, steadied after Saudi Arabia pledged to restore full oil production by the end of September. Trump has previously said he does not want war and is co-ordinating with Gulf and European states.

When asked about the possibility of a military strike against Iran, the Saudi ambassador to Berlin told Germany's Deutschlandfunk radio that "all options are on the table".

Saudi-led forces launched a military operation north of Yemen's port city of Hodeidah on Friday, saying it had destroyed four sites used in assembling remote-controlled boats and seamines to help protect the freedom of maritime navigation.

They also threatened the United Arab Emirates, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis.

"I've been an advocate of trying to find a diplomatic way to come to a resolution of the Yemeni civil war", Paul said, noting that with the latest round of escalation "it doesn't look like we're going more towards diplomacy".

However, on Thursday, a CBS News report shed more light on the location where the strike was planned and carried out, quoting another US official as saying that the United States has access to unpublished satellite images that show IRGC officers preparing the attack at Ahvaz airbase in southwestern Iran.

Saudi Arabia joined the coalition on Wednesday.

Separately, a United Nations panel of experts on Yemen arrived in Saudi Arabia to investigate the attack, United Nations spokesman Farhan Haq said.

USA efforts to bring about a UN Security Council response looked unlikely to succeed as Russian Federation and China have veto powers and were expected to shield Iran.

"These subversive attacks aim to destabilise the region's security and damaging the global energy supply and the global economy", state media quoted Prince Mohammed as telling Pompeo.

An worldwide inquiry is under way, with the United Nations saying on Thursday experts had arrived in the kingdom and begun their mission "at the invitation of the Saudi authorities". However, Tehran's current involvement in the war is motivated by regional rivalry with Riyadh and religious sentiments to back the Shiite Houthis although the sect is essentially different from the brand of Shiism in Iran.

The U.S. formed the coalition after attacks on oil tankers that American officials blame on Iran, as well as Iran's seizure of tankers in the region.

Other reports by iNewsToday