2019-09-16 21:17:231 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
It seems there really aren't too many who believe that Yemen's Houthi rebels are responsible for the drone attack on Saudi Arabia oil facilities. The United States was already discounting them and unofficially pointing a finger at Iran on Saturday. By Monday both the Saudis were ready to admit that the weapons used in the attack were Iranian.
The Houthi rebels, meanwhile, seem to be upset that they aren't being believed and are trying to flex a little muscle to show what they're capable of. On Monday they threatened additional assaults, despite the U.S. warning that they will retaliate.
Col. Turi al-Malki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, announced that the preliminary investigation showed that the weapons used in the attack were Iranian. He added that they know the attacks didn't originate in Yemen and are investigating to find where the launch location was.
U.S. military investigators arrived at the attack sites in Saudi Arabia and are gathering intelligence about the weaponry used in the attacks, according to a U.S. official.
They are assuming the strikes weren't launched from Yemen but don't believe they came from Iraq, either, according to the official who is familiar with the discussions about the attacks.
Iran has denied being involved, and China and European countries are issuing warnings about throwing blame out there too quickly.
The Houthi rebels have warned foreigners to leave the areas of the attacks at the state-owned oil company, Aramco. A Houthi military spokesman suggested the facilities could be attacked again "at any moment."
"We assure the Saudi regime that our long hand can reach wherever we want and whenever we want," said spokesman Yahya Saree in a statement. He also explained that drones that had been modified with jet engines were used in the attacks.
The Iran-backed Houthis took control of Yemen's capital from the government five years ago and have been fighting against a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Iran has been providing the Houthis with military and logistics support, according to both U.S. and Saudi officials.
While Trump had published his "locked and loaded" comment Sunday night, the Russian Foreign Ministry warned against "jumping to conclusions," as the U.S. often does, noting it's "counterproductive." They have said military retaliation is "unacceptable."
Monday morning Trump returned to Twitter and wrote, "Remember when Iran shot down a drone, saying knowingly that it was in their airspace when, in fact, it was nowhere close. They stuck strongly to that story knowing that it was a very big lie. Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We'll see?"
This was in reference to a U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz being downed by an Iranian missile in June.
Iraq's prime minister admitted on Monday that he'd spoken to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, with both agreeing that the attacks did not launch from Iraq.
While Trump has been wanting to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after much trouble between the two nations, that's not a popular decision for Trump back home and led to former national security adviser John Bolton leaving the administration.
Iran said on Monday there were no plans for Rouhani to meet with Trump while at the United Nations General Assembly next month later in September. They have reported that they will not negotiate with the U.S. as long as the U.S. sanctions are in place.
A meeting between the two leaders "is not on our agenda, nor will it happen," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi. What they will welcome is the U.S. returning to the nuclear deal that Trump left in the summer of 2018.
Oil futures increased by a large amount, then eased off a little. Trump admitted to authorizing the release of oil from strategic reserves "if needed."
Industry analysts are still trying to assess the extent of the damage after the attacks. "In the short term Saudi Arabia will be able to maintain exports and use reserves to ensure supply security," said the S&P global information analysis firm.
But "any evidence of prolonged disruption of production would heavily impact [OPECs] spare capacity and the ability of International Energy Agency to use Strategic Petroleum Reserves to shore up the market."
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