by WorldTribune Staff, September 18, 2019
Iran’s president on Sept. 18 said Saudi Arabia should consider the attack on its oil facilities a “warning” to stop its military campaign against Iranian-supported Houthi rebels in Yemen.
While denying Iran was behind the attack which crippled a large portion of Saudi’s oil infrastructure, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hinted that Saudi Arabia’s failure to heed the warning could lead to a wider conflict.
“The Yemenis… haven’t hit a hospital, they haven’t hit a school, they haven’t hit Sanaa bazaar. They just hit an industrial center… to warn you,” Rouhani said after a cabinet meeting in remarks posted on the Iranian government’s Twitter account.
A Saudi-led coalition has, since 2015, been fighting to remove the Iran-backed Houthis from Yemen and restore the internationally recognized Yemeni government.
The Iranian leader blamed the U.S., Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the Saudi government for rising tensions in the Middle East.
“We don’t want conflict in the region,” Rouhani said. “Who started the conflict?”
Related: Amb. Haley cites ‘undeniable evidence’ of Iranian weapon supplies to Yemeni rebels, Dec. 15, 2017
Despite Rouhani’s denial, the Saudi ambassador to the UK said on Sept. 18 that Iran was “almost certainly” behind the weekend attacks on Aramco oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
“Almost certainly it’s Iranian-backed,” Prince Khalid bin Bander bin Sultan Al Saud told the BBC. “We’re trying not to react too quickly because the last thing we need is more conflict in the region.”
U.S. officials have said they believe the attack on the Saudi oil facilities was launched from southwestern Iran.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that the Trump administration has concluded that the attacks involved cruise missiles from Iran and that evidence would be presented at the UN General Assembly next week.
In December 2017, the United States said it had concrete evidence that Iran was supplying weaponry to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, in violation of United Nations sanctions.
At a Dec. 14 news conference held at a Washington-area military warehouse where U.S. defense officials put weapons fragments on display, then-U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said “the evidence was undeniable.”
“They might as well have had ‘Made in Iran’ stickers on them,” Haley said, noting that one of the missile fragments bore the logo of Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group, an Iranian defense entity under U.S. sanctions, while other fragments displayed unique characteristics found only on Iranian missiles.
“Only Iran makes this missile. They have not given it to anybody else” but the Houthis, Pentagon spokeswoman Laura Seal said.