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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Saudis say: “we don’t want war; but will defend ourselves”

Saudi Arabia wants to avert war in the region but is ready to defend with "all strength" if need be; the statement came from a top Saudi diplomat on Sunday, as a response to last week's attacks on Saudi oil assets, allegedly carried out by Iran.

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Saudi Pumping Stations Drone Striked

Two pumping stations of the Kingdom had been attacked via drone strikes on Tuesday by Yemen’s Houthi rebel group, which is allegedly funded by Iran. The attack took place two days after four oil tankers – two of them Saudi flagged, the other two belonging to the UAE- and a Norwegian-flagged vessel. – were reportedly ambushed near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Adel al-Jubeir, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, in a press conference stated, “The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want a war in the region nor does it seek that,” Furthermore, talking about Saudi Arabia’s national interest to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty from an outside offense, he added, “It will do what it can to prevent this war and at the same time it reaffirms that in the event the other side chooses war, the kingdom will respond with all force and determination, and it will defend itself and its interests.”

Iran has threatened the signatory states of the deal that it would resume enriching uranium and heavy water at higher levels if a new nuclear deal is not reached by July 7.

Iran Denies its Involvement in the Attacks

In a similar statement, published by Iranian media, a top military commander of Iran had reportedly said that even Iran had not been seeking war. Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, had dismissed the possibility of war erupting, saying Tehran did not want conflict and no country had the “illusion it can confront Iran.” This stance was echoed by the head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards on Sunday.

Iran officially denied any involvement in both  attacks that took place amid a serious deadlock between the US and Iran over a rocket attack on Iraqi capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone on Sunday, landing less than a mile from the US Embassy, the recent deployment of US military in the Gulf, and the imposition of tighter sanctions on Iran as a result of unidentified threat has further fueled tensions in the region.

The Katyusha rocket attack on the Iraqi capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone, less than a mile from the US Embassy, is speculated to have launched from the east of Baghdad; an area with predominantly Iran-backed Shiite militias, the Iraqi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasoul had confirmed.

Read more: Huthi attack led to closing Saudi oil pipelines, Trump warns of…

The tensions at present are primarily ingrained in Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and P5+1 and to impose extensive sanctions on Iran, including a halt on Iranian oil exports, that are crucial to its economy. Iran has threatened the signatory states of the deal that it would resume enriching uranium and heavy water at higher levels if a new nuclear deal is not reached by July 7. This decision would potentially bring it closer to being able to develop a nuclear weapon, something Iran insists it has never sought to achieve.

Arab Summit – a Diplomatic Effort to Prevent Military Escalation

King Salman of Saudi Arabia has summoned Arab and Gulf leaders in an emergency summit in Mecca on May 30 to discuss the grave consequences of the attack on the economy and stability of the region. It is reported that the Saudi administration is adamant at maintaining unity among the Arab and Gulf states in order to collectively resolve the conflict situation at hand.

Referring to the attack on Saudi oil assets, the report suggested that a hike in oil price and delay in oil export is expected as a result of two major attacks.

While remaining aside from the blame-game, the UAE has avoided naming and shaming of any particular state for the attacks carried out by Houthi rebels. In a statement to encourage unity among the Arab and Gulf states, the UAE foreign ministry issued a statement stating, “The current critical circumstances entail a unified Arab and Gulf stance toward the besetting challenges and risks,”

MBS Calls Pompeo

The US has continued to burden Iran with economic embargoes in attempts to nullify Iran’s oil exports to virtually zero and has also increased militarization in the Gulf amid unknown Iranian threats. As a response to the crushing policies of the US, Major General Hossein Salami of Iran was cited as saying by the semi-official news agency Tasnim “We are not pursuing war but we are also not afraid of war,”

The Crown Prince, Muhammad Bin Salman, of Saudi Arabia made a call to the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on Sunday to discuss the repercussions of the attacks on Saudi oil assets and to discuss regional stability of the Gulf in general; the Saudi Media Ministry tweeted on Sunday.

Read more: Saudi coalition halts refuelling deal with US for Yemen war

Impact on Global Oil Supply

Iran’s oil exports are expected to be further restricted in months to follow as a result of nonrenewable waiver policy of the US that had previously allowed Iran to continue selling oil to some countries. According to Forbes, the tightening of US sanctions in Iran and also the on-going crises in Venezuela, Libya, and the Gulf had resulted in four per cent fluctuation in oil prices. The report stated:

“OPEC has kept production at 30.2 million barrels per day (mbd) as it waits to see the full effects of the Iran sanctions. The impacts have been severe. In May of 2018, Iranian crude and condensate exports reached 3.5 mbd. In April, oil shipments hit a five-year low at just under 1 mbd. OPEC+ members, notably Russia and Saudi Arabia, plan to meet this weekend in Jeddah to discuss future output levels. While both are eyeing Iran’s market share, they are on the opposing sides of the conflict around Iran.”

Read more: Saudi Arabia urged not to turn Iraq into ‘cold war’ front…

Referring to the attack on Saudi oil assets, the report suggested that a hike in oil price and delay in oil export is expected as a result of two major attacks. The report further stated that states in close proximity may be affected the most. “Hormuz, ’the most important oil transit chokepoint’ in the world, more than 90% of Saudi oil exports travel through the strait in addition to supplies from Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, and the UAE.” the report added.