By Ian Krietzberg
Early in the morning on Sept. 14, the Khurais Saudi oil field and the Abqaiq Saudi processing facility, which oil and gas analyst Homayoun Falakshahi said make up the “‘heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure,’” burst into flames as a result of drone and missile strikes, The Guardian reported.
The Iran-backed Houthi rebel movement, which is at the center of the Yemen conflict against Saudi Arabia, claimed responsibility for the attack, which further escalated the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to The New York Times.
Despite this claim, the U.S. government was quick to blame Iran, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo taking to Twitter shortly following the attack, despite a lack of “published evidence on the origin of the weekend attack,” according to CNN.
“Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” Pompeo tweeted. “There is no evidence the attack came from Yemen. We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression.”
A day later, with no further evidence concerning the origins of the attack, President Donald Trump tweeted as well, corroborating Pompeo’s claims and notably creating the possibility of open warfare.
“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked,” the president wrote. “There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”
The Guardian reported that at a Sept. 17 press conference, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, took the long-awaited prospect of negotiation with the U.S. off the table.
“‘If America takes back its words and repents and returns to the Nuclear deal, which they have violated, they can take part in the meetings of signatories to this agreement with Iran,’” Khamenei said, according to The Guardian.
The attack caused oil prices to sky-rocket, initially jumping 20 percent after the attacks, according to BBC.
In response, Trump allowed for oil to be released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, if necessary, in a large enough amount to supply markets, according to reports by Reuters.
As a result of Trump’s authorization to tap into U.S. reserves, oil prices have decreased, now up only 10 percent instead of 20, according to The Guardian.