World Reaction to Saudi Oil Attacks

September 16, 2019
Updated

Tensions in the Middle East escalated after drone attacks on two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. On September 14, the Abqaiq and Khurais facilities—both run by the state-owned company Saudi Aramco—were struck by “projectiles” in a pre-dawn attack. 

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have been fighting a Saudi-led coalition since 2015, immediately claimed responsibility for the strikes. The group said it carried out “a massive offensive operation of 10 drones” and warned of more attacks to come. The United States, however, swiftly accused Iran – widely accused of supporting the Houthis – and said there was “no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.” Saudi officials also blamed Iran. "The preliminary results show that the weapons are Iranian and we are currently working to determine the location ... The terrorist attack did not originate from Yemen as the Houthi militia claimed,” said Saudi coalition spokesman Turki al Malki. U.S. officials said intelligence indicated that Iran was the staging ground of the drone strikes, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Iran denied any responsibility for the attacks on Saudi oil facilities. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said blaming Iran would not end the regional conflict. "Having failed at max pressure, Sec Pompeo is turning to max deceit,” Zarif tweeted.

 

Joint Statement by Britain, France and Germany

We, the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, recall our shared common security interests, in particular upholding the global non-proliferation regime and preserving stability in the Middle East.

We condemn in the strongest terms the attacks on oil facilities on Saudi territory on September 14, 2019 in Abqaiq and Khurais, and reaffirm in this context our full solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its population.

It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other plausible explanation. We support ongoing investigations to establish further details.

These attacks may have been against Saudi Arabia but they concern all countries and increase the risk of a major conflict. They underline the importance of making collective efforts towards regional stability and security, including finding a political solution to the ongoing conflict in Yemen. The attacks also highlight the necessity of de-escalation in the region through sustained diplomatic efforts and engagement with all parties.

In this regard, we recall our continued commitment to the JCPoA, agreed with Iran on July 14, 2015 and unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council. We urge Iran once again to reverse its decisions to reduce compliance with the deal and to adhere fully to its commitments under it. We call upon Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA in the framework of the JCPoA and its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement.

Conscious of the importance of collective efforts to guarantee regional stability and security, we reiterate our conviction that the time has come for Iran to accept negotiation on a long-term framework for its nuclear program as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles program and other means of delivery.

We are committed to continuing our diplomatic efforts to create conditions and facilitate dialogue with all relevant partners interested in de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East, in the interest of preserving international peace and security, building upon our joint declaration on July 14, 2019 and G7 conclusions adopted in Biarritz. We urge Iran to engage in such a dialogue and refrain from further provocation and escalation.

—September 23, 2019, in a joint statement

 

United States

President Donald Trump

“These are the highest sanctions ever imposed on a country.  We’ve never done it to this level.  And it’s too bad what’s happening with Iran.  It’s going to hell, doing poorly.  They are practically broke.  They are broke.  And they could -- they could solve the problem very easily.  All they have to do is stop with the terror.”

—September 20, 2019, in a press conference Australian Prime Minister Scott Morris

“I think my thinking pretty much remains the same.  And we haven’t learned much that we didn’t know.  But there is a guarantee factor.  We’re really at a point now where we know very much what happened.” 

“We’ll be adding some very significant sanctions onto Iran.” 

“I’ve always felt the United Nations is very important.  I think it’s got tremendous potential.  I don’t think it’s ever lived up to the potential it has, but I would certainly not want to keep people out if they want to come.  So, that would be up to them.” 

—September 18, 2019, in a press conference before Air Force One departure 

Well, it’s (Iran’s culpability) looking that way.  We’re having some very strong studies done, but it’s certainly looking that way at this moment.  And we’ll let you know.  As soon as we find out definitively, we’ll let you know.  But it does look that way.”

“The United States is more prepared than any country in history, if we have to go that way.  As to whether or not we go that way, we’ll see.  We have to find out definitively who did it.  We have to speak to Saudi Arabia.  They have to have a lot in the game also.  And, you know, they’re willing to do that.  I think everybody knows they’re willing to do that.”

“No, it’s never exhausted. ... You never know what’s going to happen. ... I know they want to make a deal. ... At some point it will work out.”

“I think I’ll have a stronger message, or maybe no message at all, when we get the final results of what we’re looking at.  But, right now, it’s too soon to say.  There’s plenty of time.  You know, there’s no rush.  We’ll all be here a long time.  There’s no rush.”

—September 16, 2019, in a press conference with Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain

 

 

Vice President Mike Pence 

 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo 

“Our mission set is to avoid war. You saw what Secretary Esper announced on Friday. We’re putting additional forces in the region for the purpose of deterrence and defense, with our objective to be very clear: to support the Iranian people so that they can get this regime to cease behaving in a way that is so destructive not only to their own country but to the entire Middle East.” 

—September 22, 2019, in an interview with John Roberts of Fox News Sunday 

 

“We do want a peaceful resolution of this. That’s our objective. We hope that the added deterrence, the work that we’ve done in the Strait of Hormuz to keep the straits open, and now the additional air defense systems and capabilities that we’ll put in the region, will achieve just that.” 

“But make no mistake about it: If we are unsuccessful in that and Iran continues to strike out in this way, I am confident that President Trump will make the decisions necessary to achieve our objectives.” 

—September 22, 2019, in an interview with Martha Raddatz of ABC This Week 

 

“This was a sophisticated attack. These weapons systems had ranges that could not have come from the Houthis. It is crazy for anyone to assert that they did. I mean, it is literally nuts on its face to make an assertion that this was an attack by the Houthis. This was Iran true and true, and the United States will respond in a way that reflects that act of war by this Iranian revolutionary regime.” 

“We had a nation-state attack another nation-state, the largest attack on a global energy supply, I think in all of recorded history. The good news – when I walked in here this morning, Brent crude was trading at 64 bucks a barrel, and the world has responded in a way that has made sure that there’s ample supply in the system. But make no mistake about it: We’re prepared to do the things we need to do to try to deter Iran from this kind of behavior.” 

—September 22, 2019, in an interview with Margaret Brennan of CBS Face the Nation

 

"We were blessed that there were no Americans killed in this attack but any time you have an act of war of this nature, there’s always risk that that could happen.” 

"This was an Iranian attack. It’s not the case that you can subcontract out the devastation of 5% of the world’s global energy supply and think that you can absolve yourself from responsibility. Were it the case that the Houthis’ fraudulent claim was accurate, were that true — it’s not, but were that true, it doesn’t change the fingerprints of the Ayatollah as having put at risk the global energy supply." 

"As for how we know, the equipment used is unknown to be in the Houthi arsenal. These line attack cruise missiles we have never seen there and we think we’ve seen most everything. So the intelligence community has high confidence that these were not weapons that would have been in the possession of the Houthis. That’s probably the most important piece of information.” 

“We also know that these are systems that the Iranians have not deployed anyplace else, that they have not deployed outside of their country to the best of our knowledge. We’ve not seen them deploy these types of UAV systems with the kinds of ranges and capabilities nor have we seen them place these missiles where they could have done it. We’ve seen no evidence that it came from Iraq. It could have well have traveled over Kuwait — we’ve not seen that.” 

“Whenever you report about them, and you say, ‘The Houthis said,’ you should say ‘The well known frequently lying Houthis have said the following.’ This is important because you ought not report them as if these truth-tellers, as if these are people who aren’t completely under the boot of the Iranians and who would not, at the direction of the Iranians, lay claim to attacks that they did not engage in. Which clearly was the case here.” 

—September 18, 2019, in a press interview en route to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 

 

 

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper

Special White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway

"The Iranian regime is responsible for this attack on civilian areas and infrastructure vital to our global energy supply and we're not going to stand for that. We will continue to call out maligned behavior, we will continue our maximum pressure campaign in Iran and this is a president who withdrew us from a very bad nuclear deal with a ne'er-do-well regime."

—September 15, 2019, in an interview on Fox News Sunday

 

Vice President Chief of Staff Marc Short

"There's no doubt that Iran has been a malign actor on the stage here and has been supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen, but I think there's certainly greater evidence that he'll be sharing that directly ties these attacks to Iran."

—September 16, 2019, in an interview with reporters, according to CNN

 

Saudi Arabia

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

"The kingdom is willing and able to confront and deal with this terrorist aggression."

—September 14, 2019, in a phone call with President Trump according to Saudi Press Agency

 

Saudi-led Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al Malki

"The preliminary results show that the weapons are Iranian and we are currently working to determine the location ... The terrorist attack did not originate from Yemen as the Houthi militia claimed.”

—September 16, 2019, at a press conference in Riyadh

 

Ambassador to the United Kingdom Prince Khalid bin Bandar 

"Almost certainly it's Iranian-backed. We are trying not to react too quickly because the last thing we need is more conflict in the region." 

—September 18, 2019, in an interview with BBC 

 

Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman 

“We don’t fully know what happened,” he said. “Once we know who and why and the cause, accusations will be leveled." 

—September 17, 2019, in a statement according to CNN 

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

"Initial investigations have indicated that the weapons used in the attack were Iranian weapons. Investigations are still ongoing to determine the source of the attack." 

—September 16, 2019, in an official statement according to USA Today

 

 

Houthis

Military Spokesman Yahya Sare’e

Sare’e “warned companies and foreigners not to be present in the factories that were hit by our strikes because we may target them again at any moment.”

“We assure the Saudi regime that our long hand can reach wherever we want, and whenever we want,” adding that the Houthis used drones modified with jet engines in the operation.

—September 16, 2019, in a statement to Houthi-run al-Masirah Media Network

The group’s forces “carried out a massive offensive operation of 10 drones targeting Abqaiq and Khurais refineries.”

"We promise the Saudi regime that the next operation will be wider and more painful if the blockade and aggression continues"

—September 14, 2019, in a statement on Houthi-run al-Masirah TV

 

Iran

Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

“The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly condemns and rejects the irresponsible claim of the British, French and German heads of state about the attack of the Yemeni government’s armed forces against Saudi facilities. Iran stresses that pinning the blame on a third government for an attack carried out in the course of a full-scale war between the Saudi and Yemeni sides is per se a provocative and extremely destructive move at a time when the Yemenis have officially claimed responsibility for the attack, let alone that the accusation is levelled before any investigation, without any evidence, and merely based on the ridiculous argument that “there is no other possible explanation.” 

Such statements and destructive actions will only add fuel to the devastating fire of the Yemeni war and make it more likely to expand. Levelling prearranged accusations against governments for political purposes, far from the realities on the ground, along with other supportive policies towards Saudi Arabia’s child-killing regime, especially the massive arms exports to the country, is a dangerous trend, and the responsibility for its impacts on regional peace and stability will lie with the three countries that issued the statement. 

In addition, the points mentioned in the statement about the JCPOA and the necessity for renegotiation over Iran’s nuclear program, which have been articulated more explicitly and dangerously in the remarks made by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, are a stark violation of the letter and spirit of the JCPOA and the UN Security Council Resolution 2231. 

The nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1, as mentioned in its title, is a “comprehensive” deal that has been negotiated and finalized as a final solution to the fabricated crisis over Iran’s nuclear program. The clear and precise timings provided in the JCPOA are another proof of this. The parties to the deal, which has also been endorsed by the Security Council, have reiterated in this document that at the end of the period envisaged in the JCPOA, Iran’s nuclear program will be treated like that of any other member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and the Islamic Republic of Iran will accept nothing beyond that. 

The Islamic Republic of Iran reiterates that its missile and defense program is based on its indigenous capability and its policy of deterrence, and proportionate with existing threats. Therefore, the measures taken for its development are fully responsible and in accordance with international law and regulations. The issue of Iran’s missile tests has been settled in the JCPOA and the Security Council Resolution 2231, and this has been repeatedly endorsed by the officials of the negotiating parties, including in a recent statement by the US President who – albeit in disapproval of the JCPOA – explicitly acknowledged that Iran’s ballistic missile tests were “permissible”. Iran strongly rejects any attempt to enter into negotiation over these issues. 

The Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly emphasized the need for the regional countries to engage in dialogue and interactions aimed at creating mechanisms to promote peace and security in the region and put an end to the Yemen crisis. Iran expresses its deep concern over the humanitarian catastrophes that this war has caused for the Yemeni people and once again declares its readiness to do so.” 

—September 24, 2019, in an official statement  

 

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

“The policy of maximum pressure on the Iranian nation is of little importance, and all the officials in the Islamic Republic unanimously believe that there will be no negotiations at any level with the United States.”

“Of course, I do not mean that we should cut relations with other governments around the world; we favor relations and talks, yet, the affairs of the country should not be dependent on our foreign relations. Benefit from the facilities of the world, as much as you can, but the cure is inside the country, and the problems can only be solved by the people.”

“They [Iran’s enemies] have done and continue to do everything they can to oppose us, but by God’s grace and power, their actions have had and will have no results; and the Iranian nation will overcome the enemies, especially the United States.”

“Sometimes, they [Americans] say negotiations without prerequisites, other times, they say negotiations with 12 conditions. Such remarks are either due to their turbulent politics or a trick to confuse the other party. Of course, the Islamic Republic won’t be confused, because our path is clear, and we know what we are doing.”

“I’ve been repeating that the U.S. seeks is to impose, but they have become so insolent today that they are confessing to it themselves.”

 

“The U.S. pursues a policy of maximum pressure on Iran through various embargoes, intimidation, and distorted claims, because the current U.S. government believes that the Islamic Republic cannot be brought to its knees, humiliated, and made to submit, through any indirect approach.”

“Their goal of pursuing negotiation is to prove to everyone that maximum pressure has been effective, and the Islamic Republic officials were forced to sit at the negotiating table despite claiming that they would not negotiate. Thus, the only way of dealing with Iran is through maximum pressure.”

“If the enemy succeeds in proving that maximum pressure is the only effective way of dealing with Iran, then Iran and our dear nation will never be left in peace. Because, this policy will become the default basis of every other oppressive policy of the U.S., and after that every time they make a new outrageous demand to the Islamic Republic, we would either have to accept and be done with it or say no and be subjected to maximum pressure anew.”

“I will, of course, speak about the Europeans at another time, but they are insisting that a meeting with the U.S. President would solve all our problems, because they want to prove that the maximum pressure policy has been effective in dealing with Iran, and this policy must be pursued.”

“In return, we must prove that the maximum pressure policy has absolutely no value in the eyes of the Iranian nation.”

“It is for this reason that the country's officials, from the President to the Foreign minister and others, have unanimously announced that we would not take part in talks, be it bilateral or multilateral, with the United States.”

—Sept. 17, 2019, in remarks to seminary students

 

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

“The fact of the matter is that the Houthis have accepted responsibility- responsibility for that. If it were a false flag operation, if somebody else did it, then they should look for that culprit. It wasn't Iran. And if the United States believes it wasn't the Yemenis then they should look for who did it.” 

“These attacks did not take place from Iran for the supreme leader to approve them. Had they taken place from Iran then he would have had to approve them. But it didn't take place from Iran.” 

—September 22, 2019, in an interview with CBS Face the Nation 

“I know that Iran didn't have anything to do with it. Who did it? I just take the Yemeni claim at face value. If you want to go to conspiracy theory and ask who had an interest in doing that, there'd be a lot of people in the list of interested participants — not least of which the United States and Israel.” 

—September 22, 2019, in an interview on NPR 

 

“I think it is important for the Saudi government to understand what they’re trying to achieve. Do they want to fight Iran until the last American soldier? Is that their aim? They can be assured that this won’t be the case ... because Iran will defend itself.” 

“I’m making a very serious statement that we don’t want war. We don’t want to engage in a military confrontation. We believe that a military confrontation based on deception is awful. There will be a lot of casualties. But we won't blink to defend our territory." 

"They're making that (Iran’s involvement in attacks) up. Now they want to pin the blame on Iran, in order to achieve something. And that is why I'm saying this is agitation for war because it's based on lies, it's based on deception." 

"I cannot have any confidence that they (Houthis) did it because we just heard their statement. I know that we didn't do it. I know that the Houthis made a statement that they did it." 

—September 19, 2019, in an interview with CNN 

 

"The United States should seek to look at the realities in the region, rather than simply using distractions. We feel that the US government is trying to somehow forget the realities in the region.” 

—September 18, 2019, in a an interview with ISNA 

 

 

President Hassan Rouhani

“Americans are sanctioning institutions that have already been blacklisted. This signals America’s complete desperation and shows that it’s “maximum pressure” has failed ... as the great Iranian nation has resisted successfully.” 

—September 23, 2019, in ainterview on state television

"While exerting psychological and economic pressure on the Iranian people (through sanctions), they want to impose maximum ... pressure on Iran through slander. Meanwhile, no one believes these accusations." 

—September 18, 2019, in a statement according to state broadcaster IRIB 

The United States is running a "war operation" by "supporting the UAE and Saudi Arabia, transferring weapons, and providing intelligence."

—September 15, 2019, in an interview with Press TV

 

Commander of IRGC Aerospace Force General Amir Ali Hajizadeh

“We have been constantly preparing ourselves for a full-fledged war.”

“All American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000 kilometers around Iran are within the range of our missiles.”

—September 15, 2019, in a statement to Tasnim news agency

 

France

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian

“Up to now France doesn’t have proof permitting it to say that these drones came from such and such a place, and I don’t know if anyone has proof.”

“We need a strategy of de-escalation for the area, and any move that goes against this de-escalation would be a bad move for the situation in the region.”

—September 17, 2019, in a press conference during a visit to Cairo

 

Foreign Ministry  

“President Macron spoke with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia on September 17. President Macron strongly condemned the attacks targeted against the oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais. He assured the crown prince of France’s solidarity with Saudi Arabia and its population in the face of these attacks and reaffirmed France’s commitment to Saudi Arabia’s security and to regional stability.  

In response to the request received by the Saudi authorities, President Macron confirmed to the crown prince that French experts would be sent to Saudi Arabia to take part in the investigations aimed at shedding full light on who was behind the attacks on September 14 and how they were carried out.” 

—September 17, 2019, in an official statement by the French Foreign Ministry 

“France firmly condemns yesterday’s attacks on the Abqaiq and Khurais oil installations, and expresses its complete solidarity with Saudi Arabia. 
Such actions can only exacerbate the tensions and risks of conflict in the region. It is imperative that they stop."” 

—September 15, 2019, in an official statement by the French Foreign Ministry 

 

United Kingdom 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson 

“Prime Minister Johnson expressed the UK’s condemnation of the attacks and said the UK stands by Saudi Arabia and is committed to the country’s security. The two leaders noted the need to establish the facts of what happened and the Prime Minister reiterated the importance of a collective response. He encouraged the Crown Prince to continue working with international partners.” 

—September 17, 2019, in a statement by a spokesman according to Reuters 

 

Germany 

Chancellor Angela Merkel 

"We believe that the deal to stop Iran from acquiring military nuclear capabilities is a building block we need to get back to.” 

"But there is also a long list of other burdens coming from Iran like the ballistic missiles programme and its engagement in Syria. In recent days tensions in the region rose and Germany will always be in favour of de-escalation and long-term solutions are only possible through a political process." 

—September 17, 2019, during a news conference with Jordan's King Abdullah 

 

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas 

“The situation is exceedingly worrisome; this is really the very last thing that we currently need in this conflict.” 

Germany is currently evaluating with its partners, “who is responsible for this attack, how it could happen.” 

—September 16, 2019, in a statement to reporters in Berlin 

 

European Union 

Spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic 

“We see them [the attacks] as a real threat to regional security, and at a time that tensions in the region are running very high this attack undermines ongoing work at de-escalation and dialogue." 

—September 16, 2019, in a statement to journalists

 

Russia 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov 

“We have a negative attitude towards rising tensions in the region and call for all countries in the region and outside of it to avoid any hasty steps or conclusions which may deepen destabilisation.” 

—September 16, 2019, in a statement according to Reuters 

 

Foreign Ministry  

“We believe it is counterproductive to use what happened to increase tensions around Iran in line with the well-known U.S. policy. Proposals on tough retaliatory actions, which appear to have been discussed in Washington are even more unacceptable.” 

—September 16, 2019, in a statement according to Reuters 

 

China 

Spokeswoman of China's Foreign Ministry Hua Chunying 

“Pondering who is to blame in the absence of a conclusive investigation I think is in itself not very responsible. China’s position is that we oppose any moves that expand or intensify conflict." 

“We call on relevant parties avoid taking actions that bring about an escalation in regional tensions. We hope all sides can restrain themselves and can jointly safeguard the peace and stability of the Middle East.” 

—September 16, 2019, in a press interview in Beijing  

 

Updated