On September 14, Yemen’s Houthis (Ansar Allah) carried out a strike on oil facilities in the eastern Saudi areas of Buqayq and Khurais. According to the Houthis, the strike was delivered with 10 suicide drones. However, later several photos appeared online suggesting that the Houthis used at least one cruise missile also.
Immediately after the attack, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo claimed that Iran was behind the attack. These allegations were rejected by Tehran as ‘lies’. Despite this, speculations about the supposed Iranian involvement continued appearing.
On September 15, Middle East Eye alleged that the strikes on Saudi oil infrastructure were launched by Iran-linked factions of the Popular Mobilization Units from Iraq.
The Middle East Eye report says the following (source):
The strikes which paralysed the Saudi oil industry on Saturday morning, forcing it to halve its output of crude oil, were made by Iranian drones launched from Hashd al-Shaabi bases in southern Iraq, a senior Iraqi intelligence official has told Middle East Eye.
The attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais, two key Aramco facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia, were in retaliation for Israeli drone strikes on Hashd al-Shaabi bases and convoys in August, which were co-ordinated and funded by the Saudis, the official said.
“The latest attack comes for two reasons: another message from Iran to USA and its allies that as long as its siege on Iran continues no one will have stability in the region. However, the second more direct reason is a strong Iranian revenge for the recent Israeli attacks by drones launched from SDF-controlled areas in Syria against pro-Iranian Hashd bases,” he said.
“These Israeli drone attacks were supported and financed by the Saudis. That is why the recent attack was the most devastating, while the previous attacks were more symbolic and inflicted little harm,” the official said.
Nonetheless, the report failed to provide any evidence to confirm these claims. Middle East Eye also noted that “the Iraqi intelligence official refused to say which bases Saturday’s drones were launched from.”
The Middle East Eye report was based exploits speculations that Buqayq and Khurais are located too far from the Houthis-controlled part of northwestern Yemen and the Yemeni movement does not have capabilities to strike targets in this part of Saudi Arabia.
So, mainstream media outlets or some diplomats would like to believe that the strike was carried out by ‘Iranian proxies’ operating in some other area, for example in Iraq. In this light, it would be interesting to look at this situation from another direction.
Saudi Arabia currently has very complicated relations with the UAE and Qatar, located much closer to Buqayq and Khurais than any position of the Popular Mobilization Units in southern Iraq. Furthermore, tensions between the UAE and Saudi Arabia grew to the level when UAE-backed and Saudi-backed forces openly clash in southern Yemen. The Qatari-Saudi relations have also been in a deep crisis since 2017.
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