Pompeo heads to Saudi Arabia as US official says Aramco attacks came from ‘Iranian soil’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listens as Donald Trump meets with Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 17 September 2019

Pompeo heads to Saudi Arabia as US official says Aramco attacks came from ‘Iranian soil’

  • Official tells AFP that cruise missiles were involved in attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais
  • Vice President Mike Pence says United States evaluating evidence on the attacks

WASHINGTON: The United States has concluded that the weekend attack on Saudi oil facilities was launched from Iranian soil and cruise missiles were involved, a US official told AFP on Tuesday.

The comments come as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed to the Kingdom Tuesday amid heightened tensions after the strikes.

The official, who declined to be identified, said the United States was gathering evidence about the attack to present to the international community, notably European allies, at the UN General Assembly next week.

Asked if Washington was certain that the missiles had been launched from Iranian soil, the official answered: "Yes."

US intelligence services have the capability of determining where the missiles were launched from, the official said, declining, however, to say how many were fired.

"I will not get into that kind of details," the official said.

On Tuesday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke with UK prime minister Boris Johnson over the phone, with Johnson assuring the prince of the importance of a “collective global response” to the Aramco attack.

The weekend strikes on Abqaiq -- the world's largest oil processing facility – and the Khurais oil field in eastern Saudi Arabia have roiled global energy markets.

Yemen's Iran-backed-Houthi militants claimed responsibility for Saturday's attacks but Saudi Arabia accused Iran and President Donald Trump also singled out Tehran.

"Certainly, it would look to most like it was Iran," Trump said Monday.

The president said the United States wanted to help its Saudi ally but he wanted to avoid a war.

US Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday the United States was evaluating evidence on the attacks on Saudi oil facilities and stands read to defend its interests and allies in the Middle East. If Iran conducted Saturday's attacks to pressure Trump to back off his sanctions regime against Tehran, they will fail, Pence said. 

Tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies have threatened to boil over since May last year when Trump abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal and began reimposing sanctions in its campaign of "maximum pressure."

Saudi minister hails ‘special relationship’ with Japan

Updated 22 October 2019

Saudi minister hails ‘special relationship’ with Japan

  • “We share common values,” said Majid Al-Qasabi

TOKYO: Saudi Arabia has a “special relationship” with Japan, which is “reliable strategic partner and friend” of the Kingdom, the Saudi Minister for Commerce and Investment Majid Al-Qasabi said on Monday.

The minister was speaking at the launch in Tokyo of the Japanese-language online edition of Arab News, in the latest stage of its global expansion. The event came on the eve of Tuesday’s ceremonial enthronement of Emperor Naruhito in the Japanese capital. “This is a great opportunity, a moment in history,” Al-Qasabi said.

The news website, published in Japanese and English, will focus on enabling the exchange of information between Japan and the Arab world in business, current affairs, and arts and culture. “It will be good to have news in Japanese so many Japanese can read about the Arab world,” Japan’s Defense Minister Taro Kono said at the launch.

Common values

“We share common values, we have a high respect for the elders and we think that the family is very important … to me we are friends and I think we need to work together.

“In order to do that we need to know what people in the Middle East are actually thinking, what is happening on a daily basis, and we haven’t got the source for that — but now Arab News is in Japan.

“This is a very good means to exchange information between the Middle East and Japan, so I am very much looking forward to it.”