Iran responsible for ‘attack against the world’ after strikes on oil facilities, Saudi official says
Iran’s recent warnings to Saudi Arabia are “ridiculous” and “laughable” Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir told CNBC amid ongoing investigations by the kingdom tying Iran to a major attack on its oil facilities.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in an interview Friday that he hoped to avoid conflict, but that Iran was prepared for “all-out war” in the event of attack by Saudi or U.S. forces. He then questioned whether Saudi Arabia was ready to fight “to the last American soldier.”
“This is not the first time Iran’s foreign minister has said something ridiculous and frankly laughable,” he told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble in Riyadh on Saturday. “The attack that Iran conducted was an attack against the whole world, not just Saudi Arabia. And now they’re trying to justify it, they’re trying to find ways to create divides.”
His comments come amid a state of heightened tension between Saudi Arabia, Iran and the U.S. following drone and missile attacks on two Saudi oil facilities a week ago. The attacks, claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, shut down half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.
Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have suggested that Iran had a role in, or was responsible for, the attack on Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil facility. Iran has denied the accusations, calling them “meaningless” and “pointless.”
Asked about next steps, the minister asserted that Saudi Arabia was responsible for its own defenses — which were criticized as having failed to effectively counter the drone and missile attacks — but stressed the international community’s role in reigning in what he called Iran’s aggressive behavior.
“It is our responsibility to protect our borders, our people, our infrastructure — but the world also has responsibility to make sure Iran isn’t allowed to get away with murder, to ensure freedom of navigation in the Gulf and Arabian Sea so global energy supply isn’t disrupted,” he said.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has been mired in a four-year conflict with Yemen’s Houthi rebels, during which its airstrikes have been responsible for thousands of civilian deaths, according to international monitoring groups.
WATCH NOWVIDEO01:02Satellite photos show the attack damage to Saudi Aramco oil facilities
Engagement with Iran, like the efforts of Germany and France in launching a trade mechanism that would bypass U.S. sanctions, is nothing more than appeasement and will only condone the country’s behavior, al-Jubeir added.
“If you think being lax with Iran will make it behave better, that hasn’t happened in 40 years and won’t happen,” he said. “The idea that Iran can be offered loans we believe is appeasement. Anytime anybody has appeased Iran in the last 40 years, Iran has used that to cause mischief.”
Iran defends its testing and development of ballistic missiles as self-defense. Earlier this year the Donald Trump administration designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, accusing it of destabilizing activity across the Middle East and supporting militant groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
WATCH NOWVIDEO03:12Saudi Aramco reveals production plants damage after drone attacks
Both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have stopped short of any retaliatory action against Iran, although on Friday the Pentagon announced that it will deploy additional U.S. troops and missile defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Al-Jubeir said the strikes represented attacks not just on Saudi Arabia but on the entire international community.
Extensive repair work is underway on the two damaged oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco’s Chief Executive Amin Nasser has reportedly told employees of the state oil giant that the company had emerged from attacks on its oil facilities “stronger than ever” and added that full oil production would resume by the end of this month.