Published: Fri, September 20, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Saudi Arabia Asks Iraq For Oil

Saudi Arabia Asks Iraq For Oil

President Donald Trump is believed to have asked the Pentagon for possible retaliation against Iran over the attack, and tweeted that the USA was "locked and loaded".

Any decision may depend on what kind of evidence the USA and Saudi investigators are able to provide proving that the cruise missile and drone strike was launched by Iran, as a number of officials, including secretary of state Mike Pompeo, have claimed. Regardless of whether Tehran and Washington finally strike a deal, making good on such threats is critical to Iran's strategy, given that the country must demonstrate to any USA president that it can and will engage in aggressive action if the United States breaks a bilateral deal.

Pompeo said the attacks would be a major focus of next week's annual UN General Assembly meeting and suggested Riyadh could make its case there.

"We are here to build out a coalition aimed at achieving peace and a peaceful resolution. I think we've demonstrated that", he told reporters. The United States has however been trying to create a global maritime security alliance since attacks on oil tankers in Gulf waters, which Washington also blamed on Iran.

Saudi Arabia signed up on Wednesday.

Iran has denied responsibility, but Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told CNN his nation was prepared to defend itself against any attack by the USA or its allies.

Later on Friday, Zarif called Kuwait's foreign minister Sheikh Sabah al Khalid Al Sabah where the two discussed measures to de-escalate tensions in the region, state news agency KUNA reported.

Javad Zarif: "An all-out war". He made the comments on Twitter following a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Saudi city of Jeddah.

While Pompeo struck a hard line, Trump has been noncommittal on whether he would order USA military retaliation.

When asked about the possibility of a military strike against Iran, the Saudi ambassador to Berlin told Germany's Deutschlandfunk radio that "all options are on the table".

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"Complacency with the Iranian regime will only encourage it to commit more acts of terrorism and sabotage in our region and around the world", Jubeir tweeted.

A forensic team from US Central Command is poring over evidence from cruise missile and drone debris, but the Pentagon said the assessment is not finished.

Iran has denied responsibility for the drone and missile strike Saturday on the Aramco facility at Abqaiq and oil fields that destroyed half of Saudi Arabia's daily output.

One likely move would be for the USA to provide additional military support to help Saudi Arabia defend itself from attacks from the north, since most of its defences have focused on threats from Houthis in Yemen to the south.

The Yemeni Houthi movement on Friday accused the Saudi-led coalition of a risky escalation of the situation around Hodeida, after coalition forces attacked targets north of the port city.

"The attack was launched from the north and unquestionably sponsored by Iran", Defense Ministry spokesman Turki al-Maliki said, although he refused to be drawn on whether Saudi officials believed Iran directly carried out the operation.

On Thursday evening, a spokesman at Iran's mission to the United Nations said Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani had received US visas to attend next week's annual U.N. General Assembly meeting in NY.

The U.S. issued visas allowing Rouhani and Zarif to travel to NY to attend the U.N. General Assembly, Iranian U.N. mission spokesman Alireza Miryousefi confirmed to Reuters.

Iran's Zarif accused Pompeo of trying to "dodge a U.S. obligation" to issue visas for Iran's United Nations delegates. US and Saudi officials rejected the claim, saying the attack had not come from the south.

President Trump already has ordered a tightening of sanctions.

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