Trump says looks like Iran was behind Saudi Arabia oil attacks

Donald Trump listens as he speaks to reporters during a meeting with Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa in the Oval Office of the White House. (Reuters)
Updated 17 September 2019

Trump says looks like Iran was behind Saudi Arabia oil attacks

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, have blamed Tehran for the strikes
  • 'I don't want war with anybody but we're prepared more than anybody,' said Trump

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Monday said it looked like Iran was behind attacks on oil plants in Saudi Arabia at the weekend that raised fears of a fresh Middle East conflict, but added that he did not want war with anyone.

The attacks damaged the world’s biggest crude processing plant in Saudi Arabia and triggered the largest jump in crude prices in decades.

Several US cabinet officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, have blamed Tehran for the strikes.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the strikes were carried out by “Yemeni people” retaliating in the war with Yemen’s Houthi militants.

Asked by a reporter in the White House if Iran was behind the attacks, Trump said: “It's certainly looking that way at this moment and we'll let you know. As soon as we find out definitively we’ll let you know but it does look that way.”

The attacks cut five percent of world crude oil production.

Tension in the Gulf region has dramatically escalated this year after Trump imposed severe US sanctions on Iran aimed at halting its oil exports altogether.

The US leader said he did not want to act hastily.

“We have a lot of options but I'm not looking at options right now we want to find definitively who did this. We're dealing with Saudi Arabia. We’re dealing with the crown prince and other of your neighbors. And we’re all talking about it together. We’ll see what happens,” he said.

“I'm somebody that would like not to have war,” Trump said. “No, I don't want war with anybody but we're prepared more than anybody.”

Oil prices surged by as much as 19 percent after the incidents but later came off their peaks. The intraday jump was the biggest since the 1990-91 Gulf crisis over Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

The market eased from its peak after Trump announced that he would release US emergency supplies and producers said there were enough stocks stored up worldwide to make up for the shortfall. Prices were around 12 percent higher by afternoon in the United States.

Saudi Arabia said the attacks were carried out with Iranian weapons, adding that it was capable of responding forcefully and urging UN experts to help investigate the raid.

Iran has rejected US accusations that it was responsible. 

Trump said on Sunday that the United States was “locked and loaded” to respond to the incident.

US Energy Secretary Perry pinned the blame squarely on Iran for “an attack on the global economy and the global energy market.”

“The United States wholeheartedly condemns Iran’s attack on Saudi Arabia and we call on other nations to do the same,” he told the U.N. nuclear watchdog IAEA. He added he was confident the oil market “is resilient and will respond positively.”


Saudi airports welcome back passengers after two-month hiatus

Updated 9 min 49 sec ago

Saudi airports welcome back passengers after two-month hiatus

  • Social distancing and face masks required in aircraft
  • Two local flights to be added daily to restore capacity 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is welcoming the return of aircraft and passengers amid strict precautionary measures to counter the spread of coronavirus.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) on Sunday opened 11 of the Kingdom’s 28 airports in a step toward restoring normality to everyday activities.
All flights and means of travel between Saudi cities ground to a halt on March 21.
“The progressive and gradual reopening aims at controlling the crowd inside airports because we want to achieve the highest health efficiency,” GACA spokesman Ibrahim bin Abdullah Alrwosa told Arab News.
He said that two local flights would be added daily until all routes returned to their normal capacity, during which time GACA would increase the capacity of aircrafts as decided by relevant committees. 
GACA has issued a travel guide for passengers, detailing what steps have been taken by authorities to ensure public health and safety and what obligations are on passengers. 
A decision about the return of international flights was up to authorities, he said. 
“I call on all travelers, both Saudis and residents, to read this guide and to look at the information and details in it because the travel decision depends on it,” the spokesman added.
Passengers found to violate any of the terms and conditions will not be allowed to complete the check-in process as per the new travel procedures.
The new terms include the use of e-tickets and passengers will not be allowed to enter airport premises without one. Purchasing tickets inside airport grounds is currently not an option because booking services for airline sales are currently closed.
Wearing a face mask is a prerequisite for airport access and any individual who fails to wear a face mask will be denied entry to the airport.
Passengers under the age of 15 will not be allowed to travel unaccompanied.
The Ministry of Health has set up temperature checkpoints inside the airport and passengers recording a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher will be denied entry in order to ensure their safety and the safety of other passengers.
Social distancing inside the airport has been adopted at entrances, exits, at seating areas and bridges leading to airplanes.
There will be social distancing on the aircraft, with an empty seat between each passenger, according to recommendations from the Ministry of Health, which stipulated that there must be social distancing.
“We want to make airports a safe environment to achieve a safe flight. There is another important issue, which is a well-known social tradition. There are many people at the airport who come to say goodbye to their loved ones or receive them. We will not allow the presence of people who do not have tickets in the airports, in order to ensure the safety of passengers,” said the GACA spokesman.
He said that passenger cooperation and compliance played a key role in the successful restart of flights.
“We rely on citizens and passengers, locals and residents alike, to help us implement preventive measures and to comply with the health rules recommended by the Ministry of Health.”