gulf tensions
September 21, 2019

Iran on Saturday sent veiled warnings to countries like the United States and Saudi Arabia, shortly after Washington announced Friday that President Trump had approved a decision to deploy troops to Saudi Arabia following last week's strikes on Saudi oil facilities. Both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia allege that Iran was behind the attacks, but Tehran denies the accusations.

While U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the "modest" deployment would be "defensive in nature," Iran is apparently preparing for alternative scenarios and they seemingly want any country to think twice before launching any sort of military operation. "Be careful and make no mistake," General Hossein Salami, the chief of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said Saturday during a speech. He added that his forces are "ready for any scenario" and have carried out war exercises. "Our readiness to respond to any aggression is definitive," Salami said. "We will never allow a war to enter our land."

Salami went on to say that Iran "will pursue any aggressor" and "will continue until the full destruction of any aggressor." Salami was speaking generally, but there is little doubt the U.S. was the subject of his ire. Tim O'Donnell

September 21, 2019

The Pentagon announced Friday that President Trump has agreed to send a "modest deployment" of American troops to Saudi Arabia in response to strikes last week against two major Saudi Arabian oil facilities. The Trump administration and Saudi Arabia believe the attacks were orchestrated by Iran, but Tehran denies the allegations.

In addition to the hundreds of troops, the U.S. will deploy air and missile defense systems. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the decision was "defensive in nature" and was reportedly made in response to requests from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who are seeking protection for their "critical infrastructure." When asked if the White House was considering a military strike against Iran, Esper said "that's not where we are right now." That seems to echo Trump's rhetoric about showing restraint for the time being.

Still, the threat of a conflict, though far from imminent, has been palpable of late, with Tehran warning that a U.S. or Saudi military strike would result in "an all-out war," while the White House ramped up sanctions against Iran on Friday. Read more at The Washington Post and The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

September 18, 2019

Saudi Arabia is doubling down on its claims that Iran was behind last weekend's attacks on two of the kingdom's major oil production facilities.

Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said Wednesday the kingdom's investigation revealed the strikes were "unquestionably" sponsored by Iran and came from the "north." Speaking at a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, he displayed debris from the allegedly Iranian-made weapons and played surveillance video he said showed a drone coming in from the north. If that is indeed the case, it would challenge the claims of Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who took responsibility for the strikes; Yemen, for clarity, lies to the south of Saudi Arabia.

Al-Malki also said the cruise missiles' alleged range of 435 miles is further evidence that the strikes were not launched from Yemen. Finally, he noted that the weapon is the same as those that have been used by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Aside from the apparent certainty that the strikes were not launched from Yemen, Saudi Arabia is reportedly still investigating where exactly the attacks originated. Read more at Al Jazeera and RTE. Tim O'Donnell

September 16, 2019

President Trump still doesn't want to go to war with Iran, he said, but the U.S. is prepared for it nonetheless.

Saudi Arabia announced Monday that its initial investigation into the drone strikes against two of the country's major oil production facilities revealed that Iranian weapons were used in the attack. The kingdom will now reportedly invite United Nations and other international "experts" to further investigate the situation.

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels initially claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the U.S. has accused Iran of orchestrating them. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have alleged that Tehran supplies the Houthis with arms in Yemen's civil, however, so — even if the weapons are Iranian — it will likely remain unclear exactly what Iran's role was.

Trump, meanwhile, said there are "some very strong studies" being conducted on the attacks and that it looks like Iran is behind them. The president, when asked if the U.S. is ready for war, said the country is more prepared for a conflict than anyone in "any history."

He said the attack on Saudi Arabia could be "met with an attack many, many times larger" by the U.S. Tim O'Donnell

September 14, 2019

Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for drone attacks on the world's largest oil processing facility in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia, and another major oilfield operated by Saudi Aramco in the country on Saturday.

The strike started major fires; Saudi Arabia said it had brought the blazes under control, though it was unclear if there were injuries related to the attack. It also remains unclear how much damage was caused by the strikes and the subsequent fires. Smoke from the fires following the attack were reportedly visible from space.

Houthi military spokesman Yahia Sarie said the rebels launched 10 drones in a coordinated attack and warned more strikes could come if the years-long Yemeni civil war, in which Saudi Arabia backs a coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthis, does not stop soon.

The strikes come as Saudi Aramco has accelerated plans for an initial public offering to as early as this year. They are likely to heighten already boiling tensions in the Gulf Region, as the U.S. and Iran continue their standoff over the 2015 nuclear pact, The Associated Press reports. Read more at The Associated Press and Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

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