If you paid attention to the numbers at your local gas station yesterday you may have noticed a slight increase in prices from Friday to Monday. Where I live we saw prices bump up by about 20 cents per gallon. This is a result of the significant attack on Saudi Arabia oilfield that took place over the weekend. Here is a backgrounder on the facts of what took place and what it means for you.
Attack On Saudi Arabia Oilfield – The Numbers
On Saturday, September 14, an attack hit Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil processing facility and Khurais oil field. Abqaiq is the largest oil processing facility in the world. Images of the attack that have since been released show 17 points of impact. It is believed that 20 drones and a dozen cruise missiles were used in the attack. This was one of the most devastating attacks on the Saudi Arabian oil targets ever. Half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production was immediately taken offline. This amounts to 5% of the world’s oil supply. Crude futures jumped by as much as $10 a barrel on Monday and markets around the world sank on fears of what the hit to one of the world’s largest oil producers means for the global economy.
Shortly after the strike, the Houthis in Yemen claimed credit for the attacks. The Saudis have been involved in a war against the Houthis since 2015. Experts state that if this attack was indeed from the Houthis it marks a significant rise in sophistication in their capabilities.
The Saudis and many within the Trump administration believe the strike originated from Iran. The Houthis may have played a role but Iran, Saudi Arabia’s rival in the region, is the more likely culprit. Even the direction from which the strikes came suggests Iran more than Yemen as the origin of the strike.
President Trump said the US was “locked and loaded” to aid its allies in the Middle East. In the days since Saturday, he has backed away from this stance and suggested he does not want to go to war. His first priority is to identify the true origin of the strikes.
For their part, the Iranians deny they carried out the attack. Iran’s Foreign Minister tweeted: “Having failed at ‘max pressure,’ [Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is] turning to ‘max deceit.”
The timing of the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil fields are worth considering. Only days earlier John Bolton resigned from his position as President Trump’s National Security Adviser. Bolton is one of the leading hawks of the Washington D.C. establishment and has literally pushed the US toward war with Iran at every opportunity. His absence from the position of influence this weekend may have helped avert immediate war with Iran.
Meanwhile, President Trump has been angling for a meeting with Iranian President Rouhani that would occur on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting next week. Iran said yesterday the meeting would not occur.
The Danger Resulting from the Attack On Saudi Arabia Oilfield
The most obvious danger is that this could lead to full-scale war with retaliatory strikes on Iran from Saudi Arabia, presumably to include the US and possibly even Israel. This strange trio of allies sees Iran as the greatest danger in the region and there are plenty of war hawks among President Trump’s advisers to push for war. An escalation in military strikes would mean a rise in oil prices, a continuing wobbling of the global economy, and a potential new front for America’s ongoing forever war in the Middle East.
The Real Things You Should Be Paying Attention To
What we are learning from this attack is that war and conflicts have consequences, even proxy wars. Since 2015 the proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia has unfolded into a great quagmire in Yemen.
More than 70,000 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015. Both sides are accused of deliberately targeting civilians in the fighting. According to one study, the Saudis are responsible for 67% of civilian deaths in Yemen.
The United Nations reported at the beginning of 2019 that Yemen is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.
- 8 million people in Yemen lack access to safe drinking water
- 20 million people in Yemen are food insecure
- 7 million people in Yemen lack access to healthcare
Few in the west have paid attention to Yemen however. Now that gas prices have risen by 20 cents, perhaps we will.
Read Also – War in Yemen: Timeline and Fact Sheet