Sep 17, 2019

GOP splits on retaliating against Iran over Saudi oil strikes

Sens. Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said President Trump should consider attacking Iranian oil refineries in retaliation for the drone strikes on Saudi oil plants, while Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said direct U.S. intervention would be "a grave mistake," per Bloomberg.

The big picture: Opinions on U.S. involvement are split since the attack against Saudi Arabia didn't occur on U.S. soil, endanger American lives or happen in a country that is a partner in a defense treaty with the U.S.

What they're saying: Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative for Iran, told congressional staffers that "Saudis consider it to be 'their 9/11,'" reports the Washington Post.

  • "The comparison to the terrorist attacks, ... in which 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, rankled several staffers," writes the Post.

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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

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.

Go deeperArrowSep 17, 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