The attack on the world’s largest oil processing plant early Saturday morning is a dramatic escalation in the confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia — even if the Iranians didn’t fire the drones or missiles responsible.
Several projectiles struck the Abqaiq plant, starting a series of fires that quickly took out nearly half Saudi’s oil production — 5% of the global daily output — and sparking fears about the security of the world’s oil supplies.
It’s unclear when Abqaiq, which is operated by Saudi giant Aramco, will be fully operational again.
Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed the attack, saying that 10 drones had targeted Abqaiq, as well as the Khurais oilfield. But attacks of this scale and accuracy would represent a sudden and remarkable increase in Houthi capabilities, and neither the United States nor Saudi Arabia is buying the claim.
The United States swiftly discounted the Houthi claim. Late Saturday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: “Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.” And he added: “There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”
In response Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused Pompeo of engaging in deception. He wrote on Twitter: “Having failed at ‘max pressure’, @SecPompeo’s turning to ‘max deceit’ US & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory. Blaming Iran won’t end disaster.”
The big question now, is where did this attack originate and who was behind it?
Read more of this analysis here.