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Iran accused of bombing Aramco – Saudi response prospects (analysis)

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) – In assuming repeated attacks on Saudi vital installations directly or through its allies, such as the Houthi group in Yemen, Iran assumes that Saudi Arabia will not respond directly and that it will not use military deterrence to perceive the kingdom’s risk of similar energy infrastructure being exposed Or subversive operations from within.

According to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Iran is behind some 100 drone or ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, the latest of which was a double attack last Saturday on Aramco’s oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais in eastern Saudi Arabia.

The debate remains uncertain about who was responsible for the attacks and where they were launched.

The al-Houthi group, Iran’s ally, has claimed responsibility for the attacks, while Saudi Arabia and the United States insist that the attacks were not carried out from Yemen, and that they are either from Iraq or Iran, as confirmed by experts who have seen pictures of the damaged oil tanks at both sites, which confirm that the attacks came from Northwest of the two signatories, ie from Iraq or Iran.

In a telephone conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, Pompeo said Iraq was not responsible for the attacks, but did not confirm Iran’s responsibility for them, while the Arab Coalition’s investigations to support legitimacy in Yemen indicated that the weapons used in the attacks were Iranian.

The latest attacks have disrupted half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production, at 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) reaching global oil markets; but media reported that by Sunday, one day after the attacks, the kingdom had re-marketed up to 2.3 million bpd. Equivalent to 40 percent of disrupted production.

Vision 2030, announced by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016, is betting on creating economic alternatives to oil revenues by putting part of Aramco’s shares on global stock exchanges.

The attacks could severely damage Aramco’s IPO as long as the attacks prove “weak” Saudi Arabia’s ability to protect, defend, and avoid potential damage to its oil facilities.

Saudi Arabia has more than one US-built missile defense system, and while failing to respond to attacks in more than one location, Saudi Arabia may resort to buying additional Russian-made systems, with some reports suggesting talks with Russia on the matter could lead to a deal in Russian President’s scheduled visit to Saudi Arabia next month.

Saudi Arabia is expected to look for other non-US origins to buy radar systems capable of detecting low-altitude aircraft, or made of undetectable materials with conventional radars.

Saudi oil installations have been subjected to similar attacks, but they were less powerful than recent attacks.

In May, a pipeline near the capital Riyadh was attacked by drones, followed by another in August, targeting the Shaybah field in the east of the kingdom.

US sources believe the attacks on Aramco facilities were carried out by remote-controlled drones and ballistic missiles. Saudi officials in the Arab Alliance said the initial discovery of parts of the wreckage indicated that they were Iranian-made.

The United States has reconnaissance planes, surveillance radars and naval radars at the Bahrain Navy’s Fifth Fleet Center, and its bases in Kuwait qualify them for the finest details, but so far it has not provided Saudi Arabia with any details. However, reports indicated that Washington will share with Riyadh more information and details later.

Trump is not enthusiastic about the war with Iran, either directly or by encouraging Saudi Arabia to respond militarily to the attacks if there is sufficient evidence that Tehran is directly involved in the attacks or through its allies in Iraq, excluding any possibility that the Houthi group might carry out such a Attacks for factors related to geographical distance and the ability to hit sensitive targets in both locations with precision.

In several tweets on Twitter, the US president has not asserted Iran’s direct responsibility for the attacks, while reducing the likelihood of retaliatory military response to attacks on Saudi Arabia, the “main US ally in the Middle East,” and that his country “is not They are obliged under the treaty to defend the kingdom.”

The United States is likely to consider sending additional military reinforcements to the Persian Gulf, in addition to its aircraft carrier, fighter aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft, air defenses, and others.
Iran rejects accusations from Saudi Arabia and the United States.

While the nature and manner of the Saudi response cannot be appreciated, US officials are divided between a trend that favors a US military response, such as Congressman Lindsey Graham, a Republican anti-Saudi, and another opposed to any military response, such as Congressman Mitt Romney, lest it lead to war. It is hard to predict its end, a trend Trump supports, who spoke of the possibility of a military response, but “what about how it will end?”

There are fears that further attacks and the prospect of a military response could lead to an unprecedented escalation of tension in the Gulf since Trump re-tightened sanctions on Iran in May, and the subsequent attacks on six oil tankers and the detention of Iran. For a British oil tanker, shot down a US reconnaissance aircraft, and several attacks on Saudi energy infrastructure.

However, in the event that there is conclusive evidence that Iran is involved in the attacks on Aramco facilities, Saudi Arabia should lead a “limited” military response, targeting oil installations, air defense systems, and ballistic missile depots in Iran or Iraq with US or international support. It can be established by a UN Security Council resolution if there is convincing evidence.

In any case, Saudi Arabia is in a real dilemma if it responds militarily, with the possibility of intensifying direct Iranian or allied forces’ attacks on Saudi energy infrastructure, recognizing the fragility of protection systems and weak defense capabilities.

If Saudi Arabia tries to bypass the military response, it could also give Iran and its allies a chance to step up strikes on energy infrastructure.

Saudi Arabia will try to reduce energy supplies to the global market to put the world in front of the status quo in terms of national security in the continued flow of energy to it without risk, in addition to forcing the US Congress to reconsider its position on Iran and the threats posed by the ally Houthi group to pass energy through the Strait He urged the US administration to provide greater assistance to Saudi Arabia in its war against the group in Yemen.

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