A damaged Andrea Victory ship is seen off the Port of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, May 13, 2019. (Reuters)

May 16, 2019

Amid rising tensions in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister, Khalid bin Salman, on Thursday accused Iran of ordering drone attacks on its oil pumping stations that were claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Tuesday’s “attack by the Iranian-backed Houthi militias against the two Aramco pumping stations proves that these militias are merely a tool that Iran’s regime uses to implement its expansionist agenda in the region,” the prince said on Twitter.

“The terrorist acts, ordered by the regime in Tehran, and carried out by the Houthis, are tightening the noose around the ongoing political efforts”, referring to efforts in Yemen to reduce violence.

Two days earlier, four commercial vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers were mysteriously attacked off the coast of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates; an act that no one has claimed responsibility for.

In another development, a state-aligned Saudi newspaper has called for “surgical” U.S. strikes in retaliation against alleged threats from Iran.

The Arab News published an editorial in English titled “Iran must not go unpunished”​ on Thursday, arguing that after incidents this week against Saudi energy targets, the next logical step “should be surgical strikes.”

The editorial says U.S. airstrikes in Syria, when the government there was suspected of using chemical weapons against civilians, “set a precedent.”

It added that it’s “clear that (U.S.) sanctions are not sending the right message” and that “they must be hit hard,” in reference to Iran, without elaborating on what specific targets should be struck.

The newspaper’s publisher is the Saudi Research and Marketing Group, a company that had long been chaired by various sons of King Salman until 2014 and is regarded as reflecting official position.

Warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition struck Houthi targets in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Thursday, two days after the insurgents claimed responsibility for the drone attacks that shut a key oil pipeline in the kingdom. The deputy defense minister confirmed the attacks in another tweet. Saying the air operation was aimed “at legitimate targets”.

The Saudi state minister for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, said in a tweet on Thursday that the Houthis were “sacrificing the need of the Yemeni people for the benefit of Iran”.

“The Houthis are an indivisible part of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps… and subject to the IRGC’s orders. This is confirmed by the Houthis targeting facilities in the kingdom.”

Iran has been supporting the Houthis both politically and with supplying arms.

RFE/RL

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.