President Trump met with leaders from Bahrain here in Washington today to discuss security in the Middle East, as tensions mount surrounding an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil production facilities, and the latest reports from the United States, claiming they know who is to blame.
Reports citing U.S. intelligence officials are claiming the drone strikes that targeted the world’s largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia came from Iran, and Trump is claiming he is “locked and loaded,” and ready to respond.
On Twitter, he wrote, “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!”
Saudi Arabia confirmed that the drone attack on its facilities halted around 50 percent of the country’s oil production. And while Trump danced around the subject of naming the culprit, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quick to place the blame on Iran.
He also took to Twitter, where he wrote, “We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression.”
But Iran has denied any responsibility, and the country’s foreign minister alleged that because the Trump Administration has failed at “maximum pressure,” it is now turning to “maximum deceit.” A spokesperson for Iran argued that there is no proof his country was behind the attack.
“Those countries that are dependent keep being dependent and those who take advantage of the situation have to make such comments to reassure them to feel secure so that they can move ahead with their goals. Such comments are condemned, unacceptable and categorically baseless,” said Abbas Mousavi, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
However, Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attacks, and while intelligence officials are saying the drones did not come from Yemen, the US has criticized Iran for their ties to the Houthis in the past.
The US has also assisted Saudi Arabia in a deadly campaign that they claim targets the Houthis in Yemen, which has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world over the last four years.
All of this comes as Trump is set to meet with the crown prince of Bahrain here is in Washington today. They say they are expected to discuss “maritime security, countering threats from Iran, efforts to promote peace in the region, and counterterrorism.”
It is not clear just how the US plans to respond to the drone attack, but Republican Senator Linsey Graham is calling for military force, and Trump’s claim that he is waiting for verification from Saudi Arabia to decide how to proceed has drawn criticism from Independent Congressman Justin Amash, who responded, noting that under the US Constitution, “the power to commence war lies with Congress, not the president and certainly not Saudi Arabia. We don’t take orders from foreign powers.”
Now, it was just last week that Trump announced he was parting ways with his National Security Adviser, John Bolton—bringing hope that the US would be on a path to easing tensions with Iran. But the Trump Administration’s race to blame the country for the attacks has sent fears, and oil prices soaring.