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Saudis Say 'Act Of War' If Attacks On Oil Facilities Came From Iran's Territory

A destroyed installation in Saudi Arabia's Khurais oil processing plant on September 20.
A destroyed installation in Saudi Arabia's Khurais oil processing plant on September 20.

Saudi Arabia says that while it is pursuing a peaceful solution one week after a major attack on its oil facilities, the kingdom would regard it as "an act of war" if an ongoing investigation determines that the September 14 "missile and drone" attack was launched from Iranian territory.

Speaking to CNN on September 22, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir made a distinction between the current assessment of Iranian culpability over the weapons' origins and a finding that the bombings of the Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities were staged from Iran.

"We hold Iran responsible because the missiles and the drones that were fired at Saudi Arabia...were Iranian-built and Iranian-delivered," he said, according to Reuters. "But to launch an attack from your territory, if that is the case, puts us in a different category.... This would be considered an act of war."

Iran-backed Shi'ite Huthi rebels fighting in nearby Yemen quickly claimed responsibility for the attacks on the longtime U.S. ally, which has militarily supported Yemen's government.

The attacks disabled parts of major refinery facilities and sent global oil prices surging.

Many observers regard the Yemeni conflict as a proxy war between Sunni Muslim-majority Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite-led Iran.

President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials have blamed the September 14 attacks on Iran, with whom U.S. tensions have spiraled since Trump withdrew the country from a 2015 nuclear deal that offered international sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear program and announced a "maximum pressure" policy targeting Tehran's leadership.

But Trump and Riyadh both also said they were consulting each other before acting, and Saudi officials have said they are awaiting the conclusion of an ongoing investigation.

British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab on September 22 said he found it, "from the information I have seen,... entirely implausible and lacking in credibility to suggest that those attacks came from Huthi rebels," Reuters reported, citing a BBC interview.

Raab also said Saudi Arabia had the right to defend itself against more attacks, and he stressed the need for conclusive findings on who carried out the attacks.

"Before we attribute responsibility, I want to be absolutely crystal clear, because that will mean the action that we take can be as robust and as widely supported as possible," Raab said, according to Reuters.

UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths on September 21 said a Huthi rebel pledge that they were halting all attacks on Saudi Arabia could help end the four-year-long civil war in that Gulf of Aden country.

Saudi Foreign Minister al-Jubeir had said the kingdom would take a "wait-and-see" approach to the Huthi announcement.

On September 20, Trump reportedly authorized a "moderate" bolstering of U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) on the basis of reported Saudi and U.A.E. requests.

The United States had already said in July it was sending 500 additional troops to Saudi Arabia within a broader increase of forces in the region.

With reporting by Reuters

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