Fires at an Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia after drone and missile strikes, September 14, 2019
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has continued the denial of Tehran’s responsibility for last week’s drone and missile attacks on Saudi oil facilities, claiming even Riyadh does not believe that the Islamic Republic is involved.
Zarif also maintained the attempt to focus on Saudi military intervention in the Yemeni civil war, writing on Twitter:
Since the Saudi regime has blamed Iran—baseless as that is—for the attacks on its oil facilities, curious that they retaliated against Hodaideh in Yemen today—breaking a UN ceasefire. It is clear that even the Saudis themselves don't believe the fiction of Iranian involvement.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 21, 2019
The Saudi-led coalition said on Friday that it struck four “legitimate military targets” in Hodeidah, claiming the sites were used to gather and booby-trap remote boats and maritime mines.
Saudi officials have been cautious about declaring direct Iranian responsibility for the attacks on the Abqaiq facilities, which disrupted more than half of the Kingdom’s daily output. But on Wednesday the spokesperson for the Saudi-led military coalition, Col. Turki al-Maliki said the strikes were “unquestionably sponsored by Iran” and “did not originate from Yemen despite Iran’s best efforts to make it appear so”.
The US has also disputed the claim of Yemen’s Houthi insurgency that they carried out last Saturday’s operations. American officials, claiming satellite photos, say the drones and missiles were launched by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards from the Ahvaz base in the southwest of the country.
EA on Monocle 24 and Radio Islam: Not Quite “War” — Saudi and US Consider Response to Iran After Weekend Attacks
Iran Daily: Saudis Blame Tehran for Attack on Oil Complexes as Pompeo Says “Act of War”
Revolutionary Guards commander-in-chief Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami led the Iranian regime’ show of defiance on Saturday, saying that any violator of Iranian borders will be hit.
Be careful, a limited aggression will not remain limited. We will pursue any aggressor.
We are after punishment and we will continue until the full destruction of any aggressor.
“The threats from enemies taught us how to extend the range and destructive power of weapons,” Salami said on State TV.
Despite its declaration of Iranian responsibility, the Trump Administration has stepped back from any military response. Instead, it has focused on extending the comprehensive sanctions announced last November.
The latest punishment was imposed on Friday, with measures against Iran’s central bank to cut off its access to global funds.
The Administration also announced the deployment of military hardware and hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and General Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Trump ordered the deployments after requests from the Saudis and the UAE.
Esper said the forces would be “defensive in nature, and primarily focused on air and missile defense”.