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Saudis Skeptical About Rebels' Claim on Bombing

Did the strikes come from inside Yemen or maybe inside Iran?
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2019 11:43 AM CDT

(Newser) – So who bombed Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure over the weekend? The US is blaming Iran, while Iran denies any involvement, and some new developments Monday morning have only added more confusion to the situation. Coverage:

  • The Saudis: A Saudi military spokesman said Monday that Iranian weapons were used in the attack, but he said the kingdom has not yet determined where the strikes were launched from, reports the Guardian.
  • The rebels: Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility and warned Monday that more such attacks were imminent. But the Saudi spokesperson cast doubt on this. "The terrorist attack did not originate from Yemen as the Houthi militia claimed,” said the spokesman, per Reuters.

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  • From Iran? US intelligence officials have told the Saudis they think the attack was launched from inside Iran, reports the Wall Street Journal. The US has not stated this publicly. However, Saudi officials suggested the US intelligence was not iron-clad. If the Saudis reach the same conclusion, that raises the possibility of a joint retaliatory strike.
  • Trump: On Sunday, the president warned the US was "locked and loaded" for a strike pending verification of the "culprit." On Monday, he pointed the finger at Iran. "Remember when Iran shot down a drone, saying knowingly that it was in their 'airspace' when, in fact, it was nowhere close," he wrote. "They stuck strongly to that story knowing that it was a very big lie. Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?"
  • Trump, II: With oil prices spiking in the wake of the attack, Trump downplayed US reliance on Mideast oil. "Because we have done so well with Energy over the last few years (thank you, Mr. President!), we are a net Energy Exporter, & now the Number One Energy Producer in the World," he wrote. "We don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas, & in fact have very few tankers there, but will help our Allies!"
  • China's view: Beijing doesn't sound thrilled the US is blaming Iran. "Given the absence of a conclusive investigation and result, I think it is irresponsible to determine who should assume responsibility for it," said a spokesman for the foreign ministry, per the AP. Similarly, the UN envoy for Yemen said "it isn't entirely clear" who is behind the attack.
  • Rebels, II: The Washington Post has a primer on why the Houthi rebels are so closely linked with Iran and how this relates to the complex battle being waged in Yemen. The rebels are part of "Iran's network of proxies" in the region, and Tehran's support of them seems to have only increased in recent years as its own tensions with Saudi Arabia have worsened.
(Read more Saudi Arabia stories.)

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