Rouhani: Saudi Should See Aramco Attack as 'Warning' to End Yemen War

Published September 18th, 2019 - 09:22 GMT
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani   (AFP)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (AFP)
Rouhani said Yemenis 'did not hit hospitals, they did not hit schools or the Sanaa bazaar,' mentioning the Saudi-led coalition's airstrikes.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Saudi Arabia should see the attack which crippled its oil facilities as 'a warning' to end its war in Yemen. 

Rouhani, in a televised address to his Cabinet Wednesday, continued to point at Yemen's Houthi rebels as the source of the attack, saying it came in retaliation for Saudi airstrikes on hospitals, schools and markets.

He added that Iran does not want conflict in the region, but it was the Saudi-led coalition that 'waged the war in the region and ruined Yemen.' 

'They attacked an industrial centre to warn you. Learn the lesson from the warning,' he said. 

Rouhani said Yemenis 'did not hit hospitals, they did not hit schools or the Sanaa bazaar,' mentioning the Saudi-led coalition's airstrikes.

A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen since 2015 in a much-criticised campaign that has seen hundreds of thousands killed and almost half the population facing starvation. 

The President made no mention of Washington's claims that it has evidence the strikes were launched from Iran, with drones and missiles travelling south through Iraq and Kuwait before striking facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais.

The blasts cut Saudi Arabia's oil output in half and disrupted 5 per cent of global supply, sending prices for crude soaring amid fears of fuel shortages.

Seeking to assuage those concerns, Saudi Arabia's energy minister said Tuesday that more than half of the country's daily crude oil production would be fully restored by the end of the month.

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'Where would you find a company in this whole world that went through such a devastating attack and came out like a phoenix?' newly-appointed energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said. 

Prince Abdulaziz said state oil firm Aramco will honour commitments to its customers this month by drawing from its reserves of crude oil and offering additional crude production from other oil fields. 

He said production capacity would reach up to 11million barrels a day by the end of September and 12million barrels in November.

He said production at the Abqaiq processing facility is currently at 2million barrels per day.

The strikes disrupted the supply of 5.7million barrels, the largest single-day disruption in history, beating the start of the Iranian revolution in 1979.

President Trump is carefully weighing a wide range of possible actions against Iran as retaliation for its alleged attack on Saudi oil facilities, it has been reported.

National security officials have reportedly presented the president with a ‘menu’ of options that include military strikes and cyber attacks.

But Trump is said to be leaning toward a ‘narrowly focused response’ that would not entail the United States being sucked into a prolonged military conflict with Iran, NBC News is reporting.

One option being considered by the president and top officials in his administration include background support for a Saudi strike.

This scenario would see the Americans provide intelligence, surveillance capabilities, and targeting information to Saudi forces - though no U.S. personnel would fire weapons at Iran.

American military planners have long prepared a list of possible Iranian targets, including the Abadan oil refinery and the Kharg Island oil export facility.

These are key sites which are critical to Iran’s ability to process and sell oil.

Since pulling out of the 2015 nuclear agreement, the Trump administration has tightened economic sanctions against Iran.

The Trump administration could also direct the military to strike at sites belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Officials familiar with the planning told NBC News that while no decision has been made, the Pentagon will beef up American troop presence in the Gulf.

Tensions in the region have been high since earlier Tuesday, when American officials laid the blame for the attack on Iran.

A U.S. official told Reuters that Washington believes the attack originated in southwestern Iran.

Three officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the attacks involved both cruise missiles and drones, indicating that they involved a higher degree of complexity and sophistication than initially thought.

The officials did not provide evidence or explain what U.S. intelligence they were using for the evaluations. Such intelligence, if shared publicly, could further pressure Washington, Riyadh and others to respond, perhaps even militarily.

Iran denies involvement in the strikes. Iran’s allies in Yemen’s civil war, the Houthi movement, claimed responsibility for the attacks. The Houthis say they struck the plants with drones, some of which were powered by jet engines.  

This article has been adapted from its original source.          

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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