While US officials were quick out of the gate to allege an Iranian attack on Saudi Aramco facilities launched from Iraq early Saturday, a theory which the WSJ said was focus of an ongoing US-Saudi investigation, Iraq’s government issued a firm denial on Sunday, which followed Iran’s own denial that condemned Washington’s “maximum lies”.
Saying there was no link to Iraqi soil and the attack which caused oil prices to spike to record levels the moment markets opened, initially surging to as much as 18% before retreating after President Trump authorized use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to “keep the markets well-supplied,” the Iraqi government further vowed to “punish anyone who intended to use Iraq as a launchpad for attacks in the region.”
Despite Yemen’s Houthis themselves claiming responsibility for the precision strike using ten drones, unleashing explosions that rocked Abqaiq facility and the Khurais field, US officials have long eyed Iraq’s Shia paramilitary forces also as bad actors which Iran deploys as proxies from Iraqi soil.
Prior reports suggest Iran has indeed stationed ballistic missiles on Iraqi soil within the past year or so, within easy targeting range of key Saudi oil installations, as well as even Tel Aviv.
But crucially the Houthis have defiantly announced it’s not over: “The rebel group said its weapons could reach anywhere in Saudi Arabia. Saturday’s strikes were carried out by aircraft equipped with a new type of engine, the Houthi rebel group said,” Bloomberg reports.
Seems to undermine a primary argument from US gov/media that Houthis dont have the capacity to pull this off, therefore it must have been Iran. https://t.co/wPyeGzDJRH
— Ali Ahmadi (@AliAhmadi_Iran) September 16, 2019
“We assure the Saudi regime that our long hand can reach wherever we want, and whenever we want,” Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree said. The statement added threateningly:
“We warn companies and foreigners not to be present in the facilities that were hit in the strikes because they are still within range and may be targeted at any moment.”
Meanwhile, the official US position still seems to be Mike Pompeo’s sentiment expressed soon after the attack that there was “no evidence” it was carried out from Yemen.
US and Saudi officials, still amid an ongoing investigation, told reporters over the weekend they are “certain” the attack actually originated from Iraq, especially as the debris and precision targeting show a level of “sophistication” which would link it to Iran’s elite IRGC.
This as Trump said the U.S. is “locked and loaded depending on verification” of the source of the attack.
Of course there remains the possibility that the Houthis will again “prove” their capabilities by simply launching another devastating attack.