President Donald Trump on Friday announced new sanctions on Iran that he said were the toughest-ever against another country but indicated he did not plan a military strike, calling restraint a sign of strength. The Treasury Department unveiled action against Iran’s central bank after US officials said that Tehran carried out weekend attacks on rival Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure which triggered a spike in global crude prices.
The United States already maintains sweeping sanctions on Iran including on its central bank, with anyone who deals with it subject to prosecution, due to Tehran’s alleged nuclear program. But the Treasury Department said that it was imposing sanctions for the additional reason of “terrorism,” saying the central bank had provided “billions of dollars” to two forces blacklisted by the United States.
Trump in June authorized a military strike after Iran shot down a US drone, only to call it off at the last moment. He recently said that he hopes for talks with Rouhani, which responded that Trump must first ease sanctions. Trump last year pulled out of a nuclear accord with Iran negotiated under former president Barrack Obama, sending tensions soaring as he tried to stop all countries from buying Iran’s oil.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s defence ministry has shown off what it says is wreckage of drones and cruise missiles that proves Iranian involvement in weekend attacks on two oil facilities. It said 18 drones and seven cruise missiles were fired from a direction that ruled out Yemen as a source. Iran has denied any involvement and warned it would retaliate against any attack that targeted it. Abqaiq – run by the Saudi state oil company, Aramco – and the Khurais oilfield were hit in the early hours of last Saturday.
The US has stood by its accusation that Iran was behind the attacks. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after arriving in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday that it was an “act of war”. The evidence was presented at a defence ministry press briefing, where debris from the drone (UAV) and missile attacks was laid out. Defence ministry spokesman Col Turki al-Malki said the evidence showed the attacks were launched from the north and were “unquestionably sponsored by Iran”.
However, Col Malki said the Saudis were still “working to know exactly the launch point”. He said that 18 UAVs had been fired at the Abqaiq oil facility and seven cruise missiles had been launched at both targets. Four cruise missiles struck the Khurais oilfield and the other three fell short of Abqaiq.
Col Malki said the missiles that struck had all come from a northerly direction. He showed video of one UAV hitting Abqaiq, along with maps and photographs of the damage. He said of the Khurais attack that the “precision impact of the cruise missiles indicate advanced capability beyond the Iran proxy’s [Houthi rebel force’s] capacity”. Col Malki said details of the launch points could not yet be given, but once they had been determined they would be announced.
According to analysts, the Saudi military briefing for all its charts and assembled wreckage had little to say about the essential question. Were the weapons used in the attacks against the Saudi oil installations actually fired from Iranian soil? The Saudi investigations are continuing while US officials seem already convinced of Iran’s direct involvement. There has been no official response to the briefing so far. The Irna news agency earlier reported that Iran had sent a diplomatic note saying; “If any action takes place against Iran, the action will be faced by Iran’s answer immediately.
The Reuters news agency quoted an adviser to Iran’s president as saying the briefing showed Saudi Arabia “knows nothing” about the attacks. A spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi rebels said the satellite imagery had been fabricated and that the damage to the Saudi facilities had been played down. UN experts have left for Saudi Arabia to carry out an inquiry into the attacks, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, warning of the “devastating consequences” of a major confrontation.
Iran is the regional rival of Saudi Arabia and an opponent of the US, which pulled out of a treaty aimed at limiting Tehran’s nuclear programme after Trump, took power. US-Iran tensions have risen markedly this year. The US said Iran was behind attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf in June and July, as well as on another four in May. Tehran rejected the accusations in both cases.
According to defense observers in Pakistan all the above referred episode is not a theory but a conspiracy it could be a false flag operation to trap Iran. They claim that great game has been started. AVM (R) Syed Atta Ur Rehman in his analysis stated that it was Stealth attack on KSA oilfields that leaves an Israel-US collaborative action footprint. Keeping in view the precision, the range, the damage, the response, and after effects it is clearly evident that neither Houthi rebel’s nor Iranian Defence forces had the capacity and capability to dodge Saudi US deployed Air Defence system.
He said since Iran is already on wartime surveillance of US satellites and radars, not a slightest military maneuver can go unchecked, it makes almost impossible for Iran or Houthi Militia to leave no evidence. Now US offer of defence of KSA, unveils the real objective, total control of oil producing facilities, and greater military presence enabling Israel to advance further its ambitions of control in the Arabian region.
According to Atta Ur Rehman there were strong rumors that the strikes were undertaken by Israeli F-35 Stealth Fighters with standoff munitions. That is why the radars failed to detect them. The idea behind the strike was to pin the blame on Iran, instigating a KSA-Iran conflagration, causing the US-Israel troops to join in the conflict, and settle the Iran problem, once and for all. Drones in the hands of Houthis with such long range and the capability of evading a series of radars and high tech anti air missiles like the US Patriots defending the refinery, seems a very remote possibility. The precision, with which the refinery was struck, also raises many questions in regard to the matter. There is a big question mark in the whole matter.
Such a precise and devastating attack could only be done by the Israeli F-35’s with their stealth capability. Bullshit about them being drone attacks by the Houthis from Yemen. Not only the Russians but the US and NATO know this. So it is unlikely any attacks will be made against Iran much less declare war on them. Israel’s ploy will surely fail. And they are scared to do it all alone. No wonder the Saudis have called Imran Khan. This is interesting though dangerous times for the region, Syed Atta Ur Rehman added.