U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions from the media before boarding Marine One for a trip to New Mexico, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on Monday. Photo: REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger
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Trump says it looks like Iran was behind Saudi oil attacks

54 Comments
By Steve Holland and Rania El Gamal

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said it looked like Iran was behind attacks on oil plants in Saudi Arabia at the weekend that raised fears of a fresh Middle East conflict, but added that he did not want war with anyone.

Iran has rejected U.S. charges it was to blame for the attacks which damaged the world's biggest crude processing plant in Saudi Arabia and triggered the largest jump in crude prices in decades.

Several U.S. cabinet officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, have blamed Tehran for the strikes.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani saying the strikes were carried out by "Yemeni people" retaliating for attacks by a Saudi-led military coalition in a war with Yemen's Houthi movement.

Asked by a reporter in the White House if Iran was behind the attacks, Trump said: "It's certainly looking that way at this moment and we'll let you know. As soon as we find out definitively we'll let you know but it does look that way."

The attacks cut 5% of world crude oil production.

Two sources briefed on state oil company Saudi Aramco's operations told Reuters it might take months for Saudi oil production to return to normal. Earlier estimates had suggested it could take weeks.

Tension in the oil-producing Gulf region has dramatically escalated this year after Trump imposed severe U.S. sanctions on Iran aimed at halting its oil exports altogether.

The U.S. leader said he did not want to act hastily.

"We have a lot of options but I'm not looking at options right now we want to find definitively who did this. We're dealing with Saudi Arabia. We're dealing with the crown prince and other of your neighbors. And we're all talking about it together. We'll see what happens," he said.

"I'm somebody that would like not to have war," Trump said."No, I don't want war with anybody but we're prepared more than anybody."

Oil prices surged by as much as 19% after the incidents but later came off their peaks. The intraday jump was the biggest since the 1990-91 Gulf crisis over Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

The market eased from its peak after Trump announced that he would release U.S. emergency supplies and producers said there were enough stocks stored up worldwide to make up for the shortfall. Prices were around 12% higher by afternoon in the United States.

SAUDI SUSPICIONS

Saudi Arabia said the attacks were carried out with Iranian weapons, adding that it was capable of responding forcefully and urging U.N. experts to help investigate the raid.

In remarks reflecting Saudi suspicions that Tehran was responsible, de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Iranian threats were not only directed against the kingdom but against the Middle East and the world.

While the prince did not directly accuse Tehran, a foreign ministry statement reported him as calling on the international community to condemn whoever was behind the strike.

"The kingdom is capable of defending its land and people and responding forcefully to those attacks," the statement added.

Rouhani said the strike was carried out by "Yemeni people."

"Yemeni people are exercising their legitimate right of defense," Rouhani told a joint news conference with his Russian and Turkish counterparts at a meeting in Ankara.

U.N. Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Monday it was "not entirely clear" who was behind the strike but he said it had increased the chances of a regional conflict.

But U.S. Ambassador to the world body, Kelly Craft, told the Council that emerging information on the attacks "indicates that responsibility lies with Iran" and that there is no evidence the attack came from Yemen.

Iran rejected U.S. accusations that it was responsible."These allegations are condemned as unacceptable and entirely baseless," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in remarks carried by state TV.

The kingdom said it would be able to meet oil customers' demand from its ample storage, although some deliveries had been disrupted. At least 11 supertankers were waiting to load oil cargoes from Saudi ports, ship tracking data showed on Monday.

Traders spoke of a long-term price rise as markets absorb the proof that global supply can hit so hard in a single strike.

Trump said on Sunday that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond to the incident.

U.S. Energy Secretary Perry pinned the blame squarely on Iran for "an attack on the global economy and the global energy market".

"The United States wholeheartedly condemns Iran's attack on Saudi Arabia and we call on other nations to do the same," he told the U.N. nuclear watchdog IAEA. He added he was confident the oil market "is resilient and will respond positively".

Iran's Yemeni allies have promised more strikes to come. Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said the group carried out Saturday's pre-dawn attack with drones, including some powered by jet engines.

"We assure the Saudi regime that our long arm can reach any place we choose and at the time of our choosing," Sarea tweeted."We warn companies and foreigners against being near the plants that we struck because they are still in our sights."

U.S. officials say they believe that the attacks came from the opposite direction, possibly from Iran itself rather than Yemen, and may have involved cruise missiles. Wherever the attacks were launched, however, they believe Iran is to blame.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have been enemies for decades and are fighting a number of proxy wars, including in Yemen where Saudi forces have been fighting against the Houthis for four years.

The attacks have raised questions about how the kingdom, one of the world's top spenders on weaponry, much of it supplied by U.S. companies, was unable to protect oil plants from attack.

Appearing to sense a commercial opening, President Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready to help Saudi Arabia by providing Russian-made air defense systems, which he said would protect any Saudi infrastructure.

For months, Iranian officials have issued veiled threats, saying that if Tehran is blocked from exporting oil, other countries will not be able to do so either. However, Iran has denied a role in specific attacks, including bombings of tankers in the Gulf and previous strikes claimed by the Houthis.

Russia and China said it was wrong to jump to conclusions about who was to blame for the attack on Saudi Arabia.

Washington has imposed its "maximum pressure" strategy on Iran since last year when Trump quit an international deal that gave Tehran access to world trade in return for nuclear curbs.

U.S. allies in Europe oppose Trump's strategy, arguing that it provides no clear mechanism to defuse tensions, creating a risk that the foes could stumble into war.

Trump has said his goal is to force Iran to negotiate a tougher agreement and has left open the possibility of talks with Rouhani at an upcoming U.N. meeting. Iran says there can be no talks until Washington lifts sanctions.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

54 Comments

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Yeah, Trump says a lot of things. Maybe its true. Most likely, its a lie. Or maybe he's being sarcastic.

Who knows?

See, that's the thing: it's kinda important that when the President says something about things like this, y'know, who attacked who.

It's kinda important we can believe him (or her)

But we can't.

'Cause Trump lies. All the time. About everything, large and small.

No responsible person can support this dangerous buffoon.

8 ( +18 / -10 )

Iran or Yemeni rebels, one and the same. Obama must be hiding under a rock somewhere right now. He was warned that as soon as the $100 billion was released to Iran after the nukes deal it would fund Iran proxies everywhere, and look where we're at now.

Even Jeremy Corbyn has back tracked on referring to Hezbollah and Hamas as 'friends' now, because well funded friends turn into terrorists.

-7 ( +13 / -20 )

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said

but unfortunately because he's flat out lied so many times few listened and even fewer believed him. Trump's a disgrace to the office. Except to those for whom ethics matter not, and perhaps those pushing alt right agendas who approve of the ways he's undermining the republic, and for those who want a non-'western' empire to have greater power.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

Yemen and SA are at war - Yemen hit an economic target.

Not anything having to do with the US, so why are we "locked and loaded"?

Why is Trump reacting like the US itself was attacked?

11 ( +19 / -8 )

"The kingdom is capable of defending its land and people and responding forcefully to those attacks,"

That remains to be seen, but given the billions it's paid US defense industries (many subsidized by the US taxpayers) to purchase weapons, plus the billions it's paid several other nation's defense industries, Saudi Arabia might have the military hardware needed to defend itself.

It's been able to spend those billions because of the value of fossil fuels and the wealth the Saudi ruling family have accumulated from its sales, from the global power of the fossil fuel industries, and the global wide fossils running nations.

Until the world becomes less dependent on fossil fuels, expect wars for oil to continue.

And expect brutal states like Saudi Arabia, Iran, the US, Russia and others to continue to have undue influence over global affairs.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Sounds like a good conflict for the US to stay out of.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

President Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready to help Saudi Arabia by providing Russian-made air defense systems, 

Keeping Russia's huge military industry profitable.

Russia’s arms industry comprises over 1,300 companies employing around two million people https://www.wilsoncenter.org/blog-post/the-inner-workings-rostec-russias-military-industrial-behemoth

The increase in oil prices benefit oil/gas producing nations like Russia, another nation getting fatter off oil and war.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Just hope this does commit US military involvement but if it comes to involvement, the conflict will not last long.

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

Just hope this does commit US military involvement but if it comes to involvement, the conflict will not last long.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq say otherwise.

7 ( +14 / -7 )

Wouldn't it be ironic, in a horrific way, if it had actually been Bolton who was a restraint on Trump doing some shady stuff to start a war with Iran? And now that he's gone...

This sounds like it could be the work of the deep-state. And I think the MSM may be telling them fake news, in order to protect the agenda of their elites.

What is the cost of lies? It's not that we'll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

Warfare has advanced technology wise a lot since Afghanistan and Iraq. Don't need that many boots on the ground with drones and cyber tactics to resolve a conflict and inflict less casualties on both sides.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Trump says it looks like Iran was behind Saudi oil attacks

Oh, then it MUST be true!

1 ( +9 / -8 )

"Don't need that many boots on the ground with drones and cyber tactics to resolve a conflict and inflict less casualties on both sides."

If that is true why are there still US troops in Afghanistan? (if we can just remotely push a button and hit the "bad guys"?)

5 ( +9 / -4 )

This sounds like it could be the work of the deep-state. And I think the MSM may be telling them fake news, in order to protect the agenda of their elites. 

Ha ha

Whada garbled mess in a failed attempt to be witty.

Anyway, back on topic, what a statement to hit such a vulnerable and globally important easy target. Whoever did it, the place will be up and running in a matter of months and will be heavily fortified as well.

But since you’re obsessed with CT’s, here’s one: The Saudis did it themselves to get out of their failure in conquering a bunch of unsophisticated tribe people.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

but unfortunately because he's flat out lied so many times few listened and even fewer believed him.

So let me guess...Israel is probably behind it, right?

Trump's a disgrace to the office.

I disagree.

Except to those for whom ethics matter not, and perhaps those pushing alt right agendas who approve of the ways he's undermining the republic, and for those who want a non-'western' empire to have greater power.

He fired Bolton or at least he’s rid of him, got the most Hawkish guy that liberals hate out, although, the Alt left seemed appalled by it, go figure....

He doesn’t like war, doesn’t want to get involved, but I’m not going to hold back on this, of course Iran did this and why wouldn’t they? Iran is really hurt by the sanctions, Saudis are making money hands over fist internationally, Iran is dead in the water, so I definitely believe the Iranians have their prints all over this.

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

Well, that would be about 50 percent of America then.

He’s below 40% popularity with voters, whom themselves are only a subset of Americans.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

Trump says it looks like Iran was behind Saudi oil attacks

Captain Obvious.

-7 ( +6 / -13 )

Captain Obvious.

What makes it obvious?

1 ( +9 / -8 )

What was that the Trumpets said about starting WWIIi? I forget, were they warning us that someone would start it, or promising us that Trump would?

5 ( +12 / -7 )

Trump has a basic problem of confusing what he imagines or thinks with what is actually there. "Looks like" isn't very conclusive.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

So Saudi Arabia said that Iran (and not Houthi fighters) were responsible.

Well, excuse me, but I'll take that with a pinch or two of salt. SA initially also claimed that they knew nothing of Kashoggi's murder.

Still, at least the US won't be getting involved:

"Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars, which they won't, or pay us an absolute fortune to protect them and their great wealth - $ trillion!"

That from Donald Trump, 2:56pm . 31 Aug 14.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

Trump should've worked within the nuclear deal that was in place between the Obama administration and Iran, but no he had to throw the baby out with the bath water (again). Now that Daffy Donny is slipping at home as the economic president, he's getting ready to try his failing hand as a wartime president. Let's hope and pray not.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Trump says it looks like Iran was behind Saudi oil attacks

Actually, it should say, Putin says Iran was behind Saudi oil attacks but the words came out of his puppet Trump's mouth.

No doubt a deal here to allow Russia to continue to increase its influence in the region while at the same time increasing its share of the world's oil market.

Donnie and Vlad are tied together - whatever Trump says has to be viewed through the lens of what impact does this have on Russia.

Vlad's scenario: US attacks Iran getting US involved in a third middle east war taking up even more of its military resources, Russia sells military hardware to Iran, Syria and Turkey, the region's oil output drops and Russia picks up slack, after all Russia's objectives met, it steps on to play peacekeeper further enhancing its image.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

If its coming from Trump its a lie....false war flag being risen here...

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Trump replaced the Iran Nuclear deal with sanctions at the behest of SA and Israel.

Well, SA got the oil price increase they expected from sanctions but the expense of damaged infrastructure and a permanent increase in security costs.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Trump says "It looks like Iran did it" well, it looks like its going to rain tomorrow, or it looks like there could be snow this Christmas. What sort of an ill judged comment is "it looks like" so many bad players in this middle eastern circus "it looks like" it could have been any one of them. Why doesn't everyone just sit back and look at who has the most to gain from this this attack, SA, America and Russia, certainly from the the oil price hike. Russia and the US for more possible arm sales to the Saudi's, and SA itself, Mohammed bin Salmon wasn't happy with the present oil price, he needs more money, and he had just fired his oil minister and replaced him with his brother, and then there is Israel , the bogey man, they want a war with Iran but won' go it alone, they need the US and SA to be partners in crime. Then there is Iran, what do they have to gain by this attack, maybe to force the US back to the negotiating table, maybe. Trump pulled the US out of an agreement that was working, and installed illegal sanctions on Iran, to the delight of the Israeli's, for what gain ? Iran suffered sanctions, and Israel got what it wanted from the US. So why doesn't anyone credit the Yemeni people with the attack, blaming Iran for supporting the Yemeni fight against the might of the US and SA, oh! and the US has not supported some shady organizations over the years to get regime changes, the CIA are not exactly angels. So NEOCON Pompeo says it was Iran, lets see concrete evidence presented to the people, look at Iraq and Libya has no-one learned a lesson. The only way is negotiation however long it takes as long as not a single life is lost, because if Iran is attacked, and a war breaks out in the middle east, there are going to be a lot of innocent lives lost, just to appease a political class that has no empathy to interest of how many lives are lost.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Tens of thousands dead in Yemen-would an attack on Saudi infrastructure not be likely?

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Shocking how easy it was for these drones to enter Saudi air space and attack the refinery undetected or challenges by defensive missile systems.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Vlad's scenario: US attacks Iran getting US involved in a third middle east war taking up even more of its military resources, Russia sells military hardware to Iran, Syria and Turkey, the region's oil output drops and Russia picks up slack, after all Russia's objectives met, it steps on to play peacekeeper further enhancing its image.

Exactly right, Lincolnman. It is all kabuki. Buy oil stocks.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

How convenient!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Tens of thousands dead in Yemen-would an attack on Saudi infrastructure not be likely?

No, they are not supposed to fight back. They are poor and their fate is to die.

Sarcasm.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Shocking how easy it was for these drones to enter Saudi air space and attack the refinery undetected or challenges by defensive missile systems.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Sure thing Mr Sharpie

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Is anyone really surprised that the guy who thought Obama was a foreign born Muslim, that an aquital based on DNA evidence was irrelevant, and all the other cases of determined ignorance he is infamous for, thinks drones can only fly in straight lines, and nobody living under the brutal dictatorship of the Sauds would possibly cooperate in an attack on them.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/06/16/rasmussen-poll-says-trump-has-50-approval-rating-president-celebrates/102916356/

2 ( +5 / -3 )

It's kinda important we can believe him (or her)

But we can't.

'Cause Trump lies. All the time. About everything, large and small.

True, but the same can be said about Obama, Bush, Clinton...

Until they accountable those who lied the US into past wars, we should ignore these statements.

Anyway, because they are trying to use this incident as an excuse to attack Iran, we should not rule out Israel as being behind the attacks, as some people are saying.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

And of course Trump only tells the truth, right? Weapons of mass destruction, anyone?

Meanwhile, after the Saudis have killed more than a hundred thousand Yemeni civilians, is it surprising that the Yemenis would strike back? What I find surprising is that it took them this long to do it.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The Iranians (government / military) have been supplying weapons to whoever wants to use them. This was proven in Iraq, they supplied the materials to “Insurgents” to make what is called a Shaped Charge, to defeat the armor on vehicles (MRAPs). They supplied rockets (I actually saw the Iranian writing on a rocket that was shot down while in-coming) to attack bases.

The base I just returned from not long ago monitors the Iranians 24/7. If we’re already saying it’s them, there is likely a mountain of evidence already.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I actually saw the Iranian writing on a rocket that was shot down

And you can tell the difference between Pharsi writing and Arabic script?

Invalid CSRF

6 ( +7 / -1 )

REF: Pharsi , That’s the Intel people’s job mate, but yeah, it looks different.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Trump should use this as an opportunity to meet with Iran. Drop the sanctions while they meet, get some small concessions to the original deal, change the name, and call it a major victory.

Those who don't like Trump will get our deal back, and those who like Trump get to claim a win no matter how small.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Iran should continue to ignore the US........they are increasingly irrelevant.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Trump should use this as an opportunity to meet with Iran. Drop the sanctions while they meet, get some small concessions to the original deal, change the name, and call it a major victory.

Those who don't like Trump will get our deal back, and those who like Trump get to claim a win no matter how small.

It's a win-win.

But would require not starting war with Iran...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The usual rush to diss DT is a bit misplaced here. 1 he said it "looks like" and 2. that is based on satellite footage of the damage and the Saudi assessment. DT is not rushing to judgment from what I saw of his remarks.....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The Iranian corporal admits this attack was by his country.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Trump's being pushed into it by morons like Graham, who'd sell his wife and kids out if it meant getting into a war and licking the industrial war machine. Rebels from Yemen claim to be behind the attacks, and what does Trump do? Assume it's Iran, and ask the Dictator of Saudi Arabia whom the US should attack.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Before lending a hand to the evil regime in Saudi Arabia, why don't you turn your attention to the millions of innocent civilians badly affected by the war inflicted by the Saudis in Yemen?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

He fired Bolton or at least he’s rid of him, got the most Hawkish guy

Remember when you said you hated hawks before you decided to bow down to Bolton? Hahaha, how things change.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Didn't Saudi just purchase 8 billion in US military? Why would the Us even entertain going to meddle in this? Answer is profit I'm sure.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The best idea would be to keep out of Middle Eastern politics - the Saudi's would say anything to get their enemy Iran attacked, the Iranians are probably funding and arming the Rebels in Yemen so in a round about way the Iranians probably supplied the drones responsible. Theres plenty of oil out there, America and its allies should stay out of it and let the Saudi's deal with their own problems.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The ease of this drone attack needs to be a concern for all countries including Japan. NK has more than 1,000 drones capable of carrying chemical weapons.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Trump is just stating the obvious. Iran is supporting the Shia Houtis, so of course Iran was "behind" it in some way. Now lets see how the fake propaganda media spins this into yet another Trump rant, and their believership chimes in.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Lmao "Yemen claimed "

No just another Mossad's lame trick, except we are in 2019, not 1969.

bs like this, or a bag of laundry powder won't stick anymore.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Whichever way you cut this cake, the Iranians are breathing in the Houti ear. "How can we grant your greatest wishhh...?"

Perhaps one massive attack like this against Saudi Arabia might jog them to begin to consider initiating an inclusive peace process next door in Yemen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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