Sep 17, 2019

Pentagon prepping report on perpetrator of Saudi oil attacks

Smoke billows from an Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, after the attacks. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

The Pentagon is preparing to release a report on the perpetrator of the attacks against Saudi Arabian oil facilities by Thursday, a U.S. defense official told Bloomberg.

Why it matters: Even though Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility, American and Saudi officials have alleged that Iran carried out the attacks.

  • The U.S. produced satellite images that it claimed provided evidence that the attacks originated in Iran or Iraq. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went one step further, tweeting, "Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply."
  • The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said the attacks used Iranian weaponry and did not originate from Yemeni soil.

The big picture: "The satellite photos alone are not enough to support American claims that the strikes appeared to have come from the direction of Iran or Iraq," reports the New York Times, which also notes that the weapons are of a greater level of sophistication than what has previously been used by rebels in Yemen.

The other side: Iran has denied any involvement in the attacks, accusing the U.S. and Saudi Arabia of spreading misinformation.

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted, "Having failed at 'max pressure,' @SecPompeo's turning to 'max deceit.' U.S. & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory. Blaming Iran won't end disaster. Accepting our April '15 proposal to end war & begin talks may."

Go deeper ... Saudi oil sites hit by drone strikes: U.S. blames Iran

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U.S. to send troops to Saudi Arabia

Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Photo: Getty Images/Alex Wong

In a press conference Friday evening, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced the Pentagon will deploy U.S. forces to the Middle East in response to last Saturday's attacks against major oil processing and production sites in Saudi Arabia.

Why it matters: Both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Saudis have blamed Iran for the attacks, though officials are still investigating. Iranian officials have warned the U.S. they are prepared to respond to any attack from the U.S. or Saudi Arabia, the Washington Post reports.

Go deeperArrowSep 20, 2019

Trump says U.S. will impose "highest sanctions ever" on Iran's central bank

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani (L) and President Trump. Photo: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images; Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Friday that he had issued the "highest sanctions ever imposed on a country" on Iran's central bank.

The backdrop: His statement comes after he tweeted earlier this week that he had instructed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to "substantially" increase sanctions against Iran. Beyond Trump's statement in the Oval, the administration has not released any further details.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 20, 2019

Foreign minister warns of "all-out war" if Iran is attacked

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif Photo: Alexander Pohl/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warns of "all-out war" if anyone attacks Iran, but Zarif emphasizes Iran does not want war with anyone, during an interview with CNN.

"I make a very serious statement about defending our country. I'm making a very serious statement that we don't want war. We don't want to engage in military confrontation. We believe that a military confrontation based on deception is awful. [It] will have a lot of casualties, but we won't blink to defend our territory."
— Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif
Go deeperArrowSep 19, 2019