CHARLOTTE, NC: The world’s largest refinery representing 5% of the global output of oil burst into flames on the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia. Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s English language newspaper, says a high ranking US official indicates Iran is behind the drone attack on the Saudi Aramco oil facility at Abqaiq. This is despite the Yemeni Houthi group claiming responsibility. The attacks set the “Twitter-sphere” into a chaotic frenzy.
Arab News, popularly known to ex-patriots in the region as the “Green Flash” because the front and back pages are printed with a light green background, reported President Donald Trump’s reaction in a tweet as saying:
“There is a reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) quickly followed up with a hawkish tweet of his own:
“It is now time to put on the table an attack on Iranian oil refineries if they continue their provocations or increase nuclear enrichment.”
Later, in an effort to slow the potential for huge increases in international oil prices, Trump says,
“Based on the attack on Saudi Arabia, which may have an impact on oil prices, I have authorized the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, if needed, in a to-be-determined amount sufficient to keep the markets well-supplied.”
The president went on to say,
“I have also informed all appropriate agencies to expedite approvals of the oil pipelines currently in the permitting process in Texas and various other States.”
Some reports claim that oil prices had already surged more than 15% in some global markets. This due to supply concerns combined with the resumption of tensions in the always volatile Middle East.
Meanwhile, Iraq denies being the source of the attack. Instead, Iraq blames the Yemeni Houthi militia for launching the drones. Defining responsibility may either be muddy or moot. Iran backs the Houthis. One is the other.
“Iran will not stop their misbehavior until the consequences become more real, like attacking their refineries, which will break the regime’s back,” said one prominent US official.
Other reports are speculating that the attack may have originated in Iraq where Iran also controls a large number of powerful militias.
According to White House adviser Kellyanne Conway,
“The Trump administration’s sanctions and ‘maximum pressure’ campaign on Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile program will continue.”
For the moment, as is so often the case in the Middle East, the only thing certain is uncertainty.
President Trump met with the Crown Prince of Bahrain today:
Only the passage of time will provide the answers, but all-too-often, within the complexities of the long-standing ancient tribal mentalities of the desert, solutions are fragile at best because mistrust and paranoia dominate the lives of the citizenry of the Middle East.
Barrel prices of oil have moved up by 8.02 at the close of markets. However, that is not a historic rise. Not even close.
About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor is an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is the founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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Lead Image: Image courtesy of Embassy of Bahrain