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Saudi Oil Refinery Attack Raises Fears of "Wider Regional War" Involving U.S. & Iran

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President Trump is threatening to take military action after several large Saudi Arabian oil facilities were attacked Saturday by drones and cruise missiles. Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack, but numerous reports indicate the attack may have come from Iraq or Iran rather than Yemen. Crude oil prices soared more than 15% after the Aramco-run plants suffered heavy damage. One of the plants struck is the world's biggest petroleum-processing facility. According to one estimate, the attacks decreased Saudi's daily oil output by nearly 6 million barrels. While the United States has been quick to blame Iran, other world powers have not yet assigned blame.

In our New York studio, we speak to Peter Salisbury, the International Crisis Group's senior analyst for Yemen. And from Washington, D.C., we speak with Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink and author of "Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: President Trump is threatening to take military action after two major Saudi Arabian oil facilities were attacked Saturday by drones and cruise missiles. President Trump tweeted Sunday, quote, "Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!"

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directly blamed Iran for carrying out what he called "an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply." Iran has denied responsibility. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted, quote, "Having failed at 'max pressure,' Secretary Pompeo's turning to 'max deceit,'" he said.

Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility, saying it was done in retaliation for the devastating Saudi blockade in Yemen. But numerous reports indicate the attack may have come from the direction of Iraq or Iran rather than Yemen.

One of the Saudi plants struck is the world biggest petroleum-processing facility. Crude oil prices soared more than 15% after the plants suffered heavy damage. According to one estimate, the attacks decreased Saudi's daily output by nearly 6 million barrels, cut it in half.

While the United States has been quick to blame Iran, other world powers have not yet assigned blame. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany is still determining who carried out the attack.

HEIKO MAAS: [translated] The Houthis have taken responsibility for these attacks. At the moment, we're analyzing, along with our partners, who is responsible for this attack and how it could happen. We need to do so with the necessary calm, but the situation is extraordinarily worrying, because this really is the last thing we need in this conflict right now.

AMY GOODMAN: The attack came just ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said President Trump is open to meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani with no preconditions. But on Sunday, Trump blamed what he called "the fake news" for essentially reporting what Pompeo publicly said.

To talk more about the escalating crisis in the Middle East, we're joined by two guests. Here in New York, Peter Salisbury is with us, of the International Crisis Group. He's senior analyst for Yemen. And joining us in Washington, Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink. She was in Iran earlier this year, author of several books, including Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Her latest book is titled Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Peter Salisbury, let's start with you. What do you understand took place this weekend?

PETER SALISBURY: Well, the fact that we have right now is that one of the world's largest petroleum-processing facilities was hit. The Houthis have claimed it. The U.S. has said publicly that they believe Iran was behind the attack. And we're now seeing U.S. officials briefing that the attack came from either Iraq or Iran. We really don't have more facts than these.

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