US national security agencies believe proxies sympathetic to or working for Iran may have attacked four tankers off the United Arab Emirates rather than Iranian forces themselves, a USA official familiar with the latest US assessments said on Tuesday.
In total eleven terror attempts have targeted Saudi Arabian oil facilities within the last 16 years.
But the drone attack did not serve the Houthis strategy particularly at this time, and proved the opposite, showing their real intention of escalating tension, he added.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, in comments run by state media, said the drone attack and Sunday's sabotage of four vessels, including two Saudi tankers, off Fujairah emirate, a major bunkering hub, threatened global oil supplies.
Fighter jets of the Arab coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen carried out airstrikes on a Houthi camp, killing insurgents and destroying combat vehicles, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.
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"With rising tensions between Iran and the U.S., and with significant naval build-up in the region, markets are sensitive to news and can be tipped by the smallest signs of a conflict", said Mihir Kapadia, chief executive of Sun Global Investments. In the same year, terrorists from the same group attacked property at the SADAF Petrochemical Complex in the eastern Saudi city of Jubail.
But that may change by the end of the year as oil production capacity could drop to under 1% of global supply demand by the end of the year after the US imposed sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, analyst said.
The 746-mile pipeline is actually two pipes that have a total capacity of 4.8 million barrels of crude oil a day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. After the United States ended sanctions waivers that had allowed some nations to continue importing Iranian crude, Washington said Riyadh and Abu Dhabi would help compensate for any shortage in oil supply.
In Washington, Trump told reporters he would "absolutely" be willing to send troops to the Mideast, but he's not planned for that and hopefully won't have to plan for that. "It is easy to throw accusations but it is a hard situation, there are serious issues and among them is Iranian behavior", he said, mentioning concern about Iran's missiles and regional policy.
The United States recently deployed an aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged, still-unspecified threats from Iran. Satellite images obtained Tuesday by the AP from Colorado-based Maxar Technologies showed no visible damage to the vessels, and Gulf officials have refused to say who they suspected was responsible.
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The UAE government also said four ships were targeted off its coast.
A USA official in Washington, without offering any evidence, told AP that a US military team's initial assessment indicated Iran or Iranian allies used explosives to blow holes in the ships.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that "extremist individuals" in the US government were pursuing unsafe policies and that Tehran is not seeking confrontation. But he also said, "Neither we, nor them is seeking war".
Also Tuesday, Spain temporarily pulled one of its frigates that was part of a USA -led fleet from near the Persian Gulf because of the mounting tensions.
The market was also holding out some hope for U.S.
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Beijing is running out of US imports to penalize because of the lopsided trade balance between the world's two largest economies. The rising trade hostilities could damage the economies of both countries. "You've got to do what you've got to do".