Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

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A technical staff is seen standing at the Port of Fujairah, UAE. (Reuters)
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The attacks early Saturday targeted two key oil installations in Saudi Arabia, causing massive fires and taking out half of the kingdom’s vast oil output. (Screenshot/AFP)
Updated 16 September 2019

Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

  • Kuwait investigating the sighting of a drone over its territory and is coordinating with Saudi Arabia
  • US says no evidence attacks came from Yemen, as claimed by the Houthis

BAGHDAD: Iraq on Sunday strongly denied claims that its territory had been used to launch a wave of drone strikes on two Saudi oil facilities.

In a statement from Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s media office, the government vowed to take “firm” action against any parties that attempted “to violate the constitution,” and appealed for an end to the attacks which posed a major threat to regional and global security. And Iraqi commanders of pro-Iran armed factions warned they could now be targeted themselves by the US. 

Drones hit Saudi Aramco refineries at Abqaiq and Khurais, in the Eastern Province, on Saturday setting them on fire and sparking international outrage.

Although the Iranian-backed Yemeni Houthi group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, while the US has officially blamed Iran, some regional and international media organizations have accused Iraqi factions linked to Iran of launching the strikes from Iraqi territory.

“Iraq denies news circulated by some media outlets that suggest its territory was used to attack Saudi oil facilities using drones, and stresses its constitutional commitment to prevent the use of its territory to attack its neighbors, brothers and friends,” the statement said.

“The Iraqi government will deal firmly with anyone who tries to violate the constitution … (and) calls on all parties to stop mutual attacks which cause great loss of life and facilities.

“The Iraqi government affirms that it follows with great interest these developments and solidarity with its brothers and expresses concern that the escalation and military solutions will complicate the humanitarian and political situation and threaten our common, regional and international security,” it added. The strikes, which have disrupted Saudi crude oil production, have raised fears of US retaliation and intensified concerns in the region, especially from Iraq, about the reaction of American President Donald Trump’s administration to Iran and its allies.

Iraq has become one of the biggest battlegrounds in the region between the US and Iran since 2003. The two sides control dozens of armed groups and their allies, and the Iraqi government has come under pressure, both internally and externally, to deal with the activities of pro-Iran factions.

For years Iraq has maintained a policy of distancing itself from any regional or international conflicts.

A senior Iraqi National Security source told Arab News: “We have no evidence to suggest that any armed Iraqi faction was involved in these attacks, and we have not received any accusation from Saudi Arabia, or any international or regional party involved.

“We were surprised by the prime minister’s statement and sent him a written reply saying that issuing this denial is wrong and if there is a need to provide some clarifications to our allies or friends in the region, including Saudi Arabia, diplomatic channels and back channels can play this role.”

The Iraqi Security and Defense Parliamentary Committee was also surprised that a statement had been issued denying Iraq’s involvement in the bombings, three committee members told Arab News.

“We in principle refuse to target innocent people and infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and anywhere in the world. We have no rivalry with Saudi Arabia, and the Iraqi government and its security forces, including the Popular Mobilization Units, have no interest in engaging in a war that we have nothing to do with,” Ahmad Assadi, a prominent Shiite member of the committee and commander of one of Jund Al-Imam’s armed factions, told Arab News.

“We do not understand the motive behind the accusations. If someone thinks that these attacks (on the Saudi oil installations) are part of our response to attacks that targeted our warehouses, they are wrong.

“We have already declared that the attacks on our warehouses were directly or indirectly carried out by the Zionist entity, and therefore Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with them, and we have no justification for attacking it.”

Iraqi commanders of pro-Iran armed factions said media reports of their involvement were an American attempt to put more pressure on the Iraqi government and justify future attacks on resistance leaders inside Iraq.

“We know that the accusations are baseless and the Americans cannot prove them. They would know if any drones took off from anywhere in Iraq as they fully control the Iraqi skies, so it is just a new pretext to target us,” a prominent commander of Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq, one of the most powerful Shiite armed groups in Iraq, told Arab News.

“They (the US) will start a campaign to terminate the leaders of the resistance (pro-Iran) factions and some Shiite politicians who they (the Americans) believe are a threat for their (the US’) interests.

“We have taken precautions and whoever (commanders) thinks he will be a target will avoid public appearances for this period.”


Startup of the Week: A Saudi Eco-friendly food waste startup brings value-added benefits

KAUST has been highly supportive of Carbon CPU, both technically and financially. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 21 January 2020

Startup of the Week: A Saudi Eco-friendly food waste startup brings value-added benefits

  • Aldrees: “Over 90 percent of food waste in Saudi Arabia is dumped into landfills”
  • Carbon CPU’s technology uses a specially developed, eco-friendly reactor to help convert food waste into fatty acids

Carbon CPU is a biotechnology startup specializing in turning food waste into fatty acids for use as livestock nutrients.

Launched through the post-graduate startup accelerator program (TAQADAM) of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the venture was co-founded by Bin Bian, Jiajie Xu, Yara Aldrees, Sara Al-Eid and Prof. Pascal Saikaly.

The idea behind the enterprise began to take shape in 2018. Al-Eid said: “Our aim was to recycle food waste into value-added products in a manner that matched the Saudi Vision 2030 strategy.”

Similar to most countries, Saudi Arabia has a food waste problem, but Carbon CPU thought of utilizing it in a way that caused less harm to the environment and also benefitted the animal feed industry.

“Over 90 percent of food waste in Saudi Arabia is dumped into landfills,” said Aldrees. “This produces a lot of gas, including methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and cycloaromatics, and contributes to global warming and air pollution.”

Water and soil were also being contaminated through leachate production, she added. “We’re trying to solve those issues, too.”

 

The team found that animal farms often struggled to provide enough feed nutrients for livestock such as cows and sheep. Al-Eid said there was a huge shortage of fatty acids, which are used as livestock nutrients and were in high demand from farmers.

“We’re trying to help animals live longer and be more nutritious,” she added.

Carbon CPU’s technology uses a specially developed, eco-friendly reactor to help convert food waste into fatty acids.

“We produce fatty acids from the food waste, extracting them through a liquid-liquid extraction system. The fatty acid oils are then used to help animal feed, as well as the feed and chemical industries,” said Xu.

KAUST has been highly supportive of Carbon CPU, both technically and financially, added Bian. “KAUST, especially the Environmental Biotechnology Lab led by Prof Pascal Saikaly, provided us with the facilities to set up our reactors. The KAUST Innovation and Economic Development department and the Entrepreneurship Center also gave us a lot of guidance on how to push our technology into the market.”

The startup initially faced many challenges that KAUST helped to resolve. As individuals coming from backgrounds mainly in engineering and science, the team lacked the know-how in business that its project needed.

“KAUST made up for our lack of business thinking through training on how to solve business issues and create business modules and find the right customers for our product,” said Bian.