Military options on the table as US prepares response to Saudi oil attack
Donald Trump is facing growing pressure to strike Iran.
With speculation mounting over the Iranian Government’s involvement in the weekend Saudi drone attack, Republicans within the US President’s administration are urging him to act now and strike with force.
Experts say it’s highly likely Mr Trump will respond with a show of force if conclusive evidence shows Iran was behind the Saturday attack.
But the worst mistake he could make would be to strike without solid proof.
Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the worst thing Mr Trump could do would be to take the US into a warlike situation before hard evidence was produced. “I think if Trump is smart he will try and get that hard evidence,” he told news.com.au. “The last thing you would want is a ‘weapons of mass destruction in Iraq’ situation. You need a solid case.”
But he also stressed the Saturday drone attack was not to be trivialised.
The drone attack on Saudi Arabia was the most damaging blow on the Middle Eastern kingdom in more than four years of civil war in Yemen.
Abqaiq is the world’s biggest crude-stabilisation facility, refining some seven million barrels a day. Khurais produces about 1.5 million barrels of crude a day. Both facilities were hit in the Saturday attack.
Overnight, Saudi Arabia has ramped up its rhetoric towards Iran, which continues to deny responsibility for the attacks.
The President, who has supported Saudi Arabia’s leaders in their war against Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen, has renewed his military threats against Iran numerous times in response, saying the US was “locked and loaded”.
This morning he levelled a more accusatory tweet against Iran, referencing a missile strike on a US surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz earlier this year:
Mr Trump has since told reporters he thinks Iran was the likely culprit, but he wants to be sure and hopes to avoid war.
He said the US would be talking to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and “many of the neighbours out there that we’re very close friends with”.
“It was a very large attack and it could be met with an attack many, many times larger, very easily by our country,” he said.
‘AMERICA’S REPUTATION IS ON THE LINE’
If conclusive evidence proves Tehran was behind the attack — which Dr Davis suspects it was — it’s “highly likely” the US will take direct action.
“This was a serious escalation of the conflict. They attacked not just Saudi oil but the world’s oil, and if you look at the last few months, it’s the Iranians that are doing all the provocations here,” he said. “I think US credibility would be on the line if they didn’t respond. As their opening gambit they could use air and missile strikes to attack Iranian nuclear facilities.
“The Iranians are now steadily breaking out from the constraints of the JCPOA and building up material for a nuclear weapon. America sees this as an opportunity to strike and prevent this from happening.”