A weekend drone attack on Saudi Arabia that cut into global energy supplies and halved the kingdom’s oil production threatened yesterday to fuel a regional crisis.
This as Iran denied US allegations it launched the assault and tensions remained high over Tehran’s collapsing nuclear deal. Iran called the US claims “maximum lies,” while a commander in its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard reiterated its forces could strike US military bases across the Mideast with its arsenal of ballistic missiles.
A prominent US senator suggested striking Iranian oil refineries in response for the assault claimed by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels on Saudi Arabia’s largest oil processing facility.
“Because of the tension and sensitive situation, our region is like a powder keg,” warned Guard Brig Gen Amir Ali Hajizadeh.
“When these contacts come too close, when forces come into contact with one another, it is possible a conflict happens because of a misunderstanding.”
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Actions on any side could break into the open a twilight war that’s been raging just below the surface of the wider Persian Gulf. Already, there’s been mysterious attacks on oil tankers that America blames on Tehran, at least one suspected Israeli strike on Shiite forces in Iraq, and Iran shooting down a US military surveillance drone. The attack Saturday on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq plant and its Khurais oil field led to the interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels of the kingdom’s crude oil production per day, equivalent to over five per cent of the world’s daily supply.