Drone attacks claimed by Iran-aligned Yemen rebels shut down one of
Saudi Arabia’s major oil pipelines on Tuesday, further ratcheting up Gulf
tensions after the mysterious sabotage of several tankers.
Days after the United States deployed bombers and an assault ship to
bolster an aircraft carrier in the region, the world’s largest crude exporter
said two pumping stations had been targeted early Tuesday.
They lie on the East-West Pipeline, able to pump five million barrels
of oil a day from the oil-rich eastern province to a Red Sea export terminal.
The announcement came hours after Yemen’s Huthi rebels said they had
targeted vital installations in Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition
Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Saudi Aramco had “temporarily
shut down” the pipeline to “evaluate its condition” but added that oil
production and exports had not been interrupted.
“The company (Saudi Aramco) is working on restoring the pumping
station before resuming operations,” he said in a statement carried by the
official Saudi Press Agency.
The stations reportedly targeted lie west of Riyadh, at Dawadmi and
Falih said Tuesday’s incident was an “act of terrorism… that not only
targets the kingdom but also the security of oil supplies to the world and the
Huthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam wrote on Twitter that the attacks
were “a response to the aggressors continuing to commit genocide” against the
In a statement carried by the rebel-run Al-Masirah TV, the Huthis
warned of other “unique operations… if the aggressors continue with their
crimes and blockade”.
“We are capable of executing unique operations on a bigger and wider
scale in the hearts of the enemy countries,” they said.
Washington and Tehran played down tensions after trading barbs as the
Americans sent an aircraft carrier group and nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to
the region to counter alleged threats from Saudi arch-rival Iran.
"We fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran," Secretary of
State Mike Pompeo said at a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister
Sergei Lavrov in Sochi.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said "this face-off
is not military because there is not going to be any war" with the United