July 03, 2019
On Eve Of 4th Of July Parade U.S. Attempts To Lure Iran Into Shooting Down Another U.S. Plane
Today a manned U.S. reconnaissance plane entered Iranian airspace in a clear attempt to provoke Iran into shooting it down. Such an incident would have created an occasion for Trump to give the American people a special 4th of July fireworks.
On July 3 1988 the guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes shot down the civil Iranian Flight 655 with 290 people on board. The U.S. claimed that the plane's transponder was signaling an Iranian military identification code, that it was seemingly attacking the Vincennes, that the ship warned the plane 12 times, and that the ship was in international waters when the incident happened.
The crew of the Vincennes received medals for killing the Iranian civilians.
Investigations showed (pdf) that all the above claims were false. The shoot down was intentional. Iran sued the US in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over it. The case was settled in 1996 when the U.S. agreed to apologize and to pay $61.8 million to the families of the victims.
On June 20 a large U.S. reconnaissance drone, accompanied by a manned U.S. military airplane, flew into Iranian air space east of the Strait of Hormuz. Iran shot the drone down. The U.S. threatened to strike Iran over the incident but Trump did not follow through.
There were reports that some people in the White House doubted that the U.S. Central Command, the U.S. military command for the Middle East, told it the full truth about the incident. Two days before the drone incident happened Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the former CIA director, had unusual talks with the U.S. Central Command. This led to speculations that the incident was designed to provoke Iran into a shoot down and to push Trump into a war on Iran.
The case today is not in doubt. The U.S. military definitely tried to provoke Iran into shooting down another one of its planes...
continues: https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/07/o ... plane.html
Iran fury as Royal Marines seize tanker suspected of carrying oil to Syria
Iran summons UK ambassador over incident off Gibraltar as tensions escalate over nuclear deal
Dan Sabbagh and Patrick Wintour Fri 5 Jul 2019 04.31 BST
Royal Marines have helped seize an Iranian supertanker suspected of carrying oil to Syria off the coast of Gibraltar, escalating tensions between the UK and Tehran as the agreement aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear programme unravels.
A detachment of nearly 30 British troops working with the Gibraltarian police intercepted the vessel, believed to be carrying 2m barrels of oil, in a dramatic manoeuvre Spain said had been conducted at the request of the US.
Tehran responded by summoning Britain’s ambassador to its foreign ministry to explain what it described as an “illegal seizure”, which had been earlier described by the UK as enforcing the EU’s sanctions regime against Syria.
It is understood that the ambassador, Rob Macaire, reiterated the British position during the meeting, saying: “[The UK] welcomes this firm action by the Gibraltarian authorities” to enforce sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Marines from 42 Commando were involved in the overnight seizure, with some landing on the ship’s deck by rapidly descending down ropes suspended from a Wildcat helicopter, and the rest following up via speedboat.
A grainy black and white image from a thermal camera released by the Ministry of Defence on Thursday showed the helicopter hovering over one end of the ship, intercepted heading east through Gibraltarian waters.
Further colour pictures were released showing marines onboard Grace 1, whose ownership had not initially been clear, but whose origin was later confirmed by the Iranian foreign ministry.
Its spokesman tweeted: “Following the illegal seizure of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar by British Royal Marines, the UK envoy to Tehran has been summoned to the ministry of foreign affairs.”
MoD sources said British troops were at all times acting under the direction of the Gibraltar police. The marines provided the technical expertise to allow the tanker to be boarded at sea.
But the British position appeared to be contradicted by Spain, whose acting foreign minister, Josep Borrell, said Gibraltar had seized Grace 1 after a request from the US to Britain to pick up the tanker laden with crude oil.
The action comes at a time of heightened tensions between the US and Iran. Iran has been accused of sabotaging oil tankers in the strait of Hormuz, a policy of brinkmanship that analysts say is designed to show the US there is an economic cost to the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal and impose economic sanctions.
White House national security adviser John Bolton welcomed the seizure of the ship. “Excellent news: UK has detained the supertanker Grace I laden with Iranian oil bound for Syria in violation of EU sanctions,” Bolton tweeted. “America & our allies will continue to prevent regimes in Tehran & Damascus from profiting off this illicit trade,” he said.
The UK Foreign Office faced a dilemma over the past few days knowing that if it seized the Iranian oil ship, as requested by the US, it risked deeply antagonising Tehran, which is desperate to increase its oil exports.
Iran, according to some officials, is now exporting as little 200,000 barrels per day, and needs that to be closer to 600,000 to keep its economy afloat.
But the Foreign Office reasoned that it had a legal and moral duty to impound any ship that was heading to Syria in breach of EU sanctions. It was the Iranian’s surprise decision to enter Gibraltarian waters with its communications transponders on that left the UK with the option to impound the vessel.
In making its decision, the UK had to weigh the possible knock-on effect on the Iran nuclear deal, as well as reprisals against British diplomats in Tehran that work in an embassy that was trashed by Iranian protesters in this century.
The UK insists it has no objections to Iran seeking to increase its oil exports, but only so long as it does not sell its products in breach of EU sanctions.
Officials were not sure how Iran would react to the British military action, but the decision to summon the UK ambassador is a signal that Tehran views the episode as proof that Britain is not truly committed to helping the Iranian economy weather the effect of secondary sanctions.
The 28 members of the ship’s crew were questioned onboard by Gibraltarian authorities. They were mostly Indian nationals but there were also some Ukrainians and Pakistanis, the territory’s government said.
Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar’s chief minister, thanked the efforts of the “brave men and women” from the marines and the local agencies involved in the operation, and confirmed Grace 1 had been detained.
“This action arose from information giving the Gibraltar government reasonable grounds to believe that the vessel, the Grace 1, was acting in breach of EU sanctions against Syria,” he said.
“In fact, we have reason to believe that the Grace 1 was carrying its shipment of crude oil to the Banyas refinery in Syria.”
Grace 1 was travelling east through the strait of Gibraltar. Tracking data from Lloyd’s List, a specialist shipping website, showed it had begun its voyage in Iran, travelling around Africa, before it passed through Gibraltarian territorial waters.
Mapping data showed it sailed a longer route to the mouth of the Mediterranean, around the southern tip of Africa, instead of via the Suez Canal in Egypt.
Panama’s Maritime Authority said on Thursday night that the ship was delisted from Panama’s international boat registry as of 29 May after it received an alert indicating that the Grace 1 had participated in or was linked to terrorism financing.
Lloyd’s List reported Grace 1 had “a complex ownership chain” and was controlled by Russian Titan Shipping, a subsidiary of TNC Gulf, a Dubai-based shipping company. Executives connected with both companies hold Iranian university and technical qualifications, or list their names in Farsi.
Iran 'seizes British-flagged oil tanker'
A British-flagged oil tanker has been seized in the Gulf by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Iran media say.
The owners of the Stena Impero, which was bound for Saudi Arabia, say they have been unable to contact the vessel and it is "heading north towards Iran".
The company says there are 23 personnel on board and it was approached by "unidentified small crafts and a helicopter" in the Strait of Hormuz.
The Foreign Office is "urgently" looking into the reports.
The government's emergency committee, Cobra, is meeting in Whitehall to discuss the incident.
This latest development comes amid heightened tensions between the UK and Iran.
The Latest: UK foreign secretary: 2 vessels seized by Iran
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The Latest on developments related to tensions between the U.S and Iran (all times local):
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt says two vessels have been seized by Iranian authorities in the Strait of Hormuz.
Hunt said Friday he will shortly attend an emergency government session to see what can be done to secure the release of the two vessels.
He says they are a British-flagged vessel and a Liberian-flagged vessel.
He said the crews comprise a range of nationalities but are not believed to include British citizens.
UK Chamber of Shipping CEO Bob Sanguinetti says the seizure of a British oil tanker by Iranian forces represents an escalation in tensions in the Persian Gulf that makes it clear more protection for merchant vessels is urgently needed.
He said Friday the action is “in violation of international regulations which protect ships and their crews as they go about their legitimate business in international waters.”
He called on the British government to do “whatever is necessary” to ensure the safe and swift return of the ship’s crew.
The White House says President Donald Trump has spoken on the phone with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss Iran and ongoing efforts to ensure that Tehran does not obtain a nuclear weapon.
Their phone call Friday came just as Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was announcing that it had seized a British oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz.
On Thursday, the USS Boxer downed an Iranian drone in the strait. Last month, Iran shot down an American military drone.
Macron has taken a lead role in trying to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which has been unraveling since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement. Macron recently sent a top diplomatic adviser to Tehran help quell escalating tension in the Persian Gulf.
The operator of oil tanker Stena Impero says it is unable to contact the ship after it was approached by unidentified vessels and a helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz.
Northern Marine Management and shipping firm Stena Bulk say in a statement that the vessel was in international waters and is now heading toward Iran. The ship has 23 crew aboard.
The British government says it is urgently seeking information after reports Iran has seized the British-flagged ship.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says it has seized a British oil tanker that was passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
The IRGC’s website, sepahnews.com, says the tanker “Stena Impero” was seized Friday by IRGC forces for “non-compliance with international maritime laws and regulations” and has transferred the vessel to an Iranian port.
The report did not elaborate what port it was transferred to.
President Donald Trump says there is “no doubt about it” that a U.S. warship destroyed an Iranian drone, despite Iranian denials that it lost an unmanned aircraft.
Trump is speaking from the Oval Office Friday about the incident Thursday in the Strait of Hormuz. His comments come a day after announcing that the USS Boxer took defensive action after an Iranian drone came within 1,000 yards (915 meters) of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.
He says: “No doubt about it. We shot it down.”
Neither Trump nor the Pentagon spelled out how the Boxer destroyed the drone or provided any video or other evidence from the incident. Several U.S. officials said the ship used electronic jamming to bring it down rather than hitting it with a missile. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak on the record about the event.
Electronic jamming breaks the data links between a drone and its controller on the ground, causing it to crash. Such a move requires a vehicle-mounted, counter-drone device on the flight deck of the ship — a device that’s visible in official photographs of the Boxer released by the Pentagon after the incident.
National security adviser John Bolton said “there is no question this was an Iranian drone and USS Boxer took it out.”
An Iranian news agency reported Friday that the country’s armed forces say all Iranian drones in the Persian Gulf returned safely to their bases.
— By Robert Burns.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has released video images it claims proves that a U.S. warship did not destroy an Iranian drone near the Persian Gulf.
Iranian state TV shows video it says was taken by an Iranian drone on Thursday of the USS Boxer and another American warship.
The IRG on its website said the drone recorded three hours of video of the USS Boxer and five other vessels Thursday starting when the ships first entered the Strait of Hormuz.
Trump on Thursday said the Boxer took defensive action after an Iranian drone closed to within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.
The claims from both sides mark another escalation of tensions between the two countries less than a month after Trump nearly launched an airstrike.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has asked the international community to use diplomatic tools to avoid a dangerous escalation in Iran.
Talking to reporters in Florence on Friday, Maas said “there’s a strong danger of an escalation in Iran and we don’t want things to keep going this way.”
U.S.-Iran tensions are on the rise again as U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday an American warship shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz. But military officials in Iran denied the incident.
The German minister added that “there are diplomatic tools, talks and negotiations with countries in the Gulf region and with the United States.”
Maas said he talked to his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, noting that “everywhere there’s a willing to contribute to a de-escalation. We want to sooth the current tensions.”
Gibraltar’s government says the British overseas territory’s Supreme Court has extended for 30 days the detention of an Iranian supertanker suspected of breaching European Union sanctions.
The government said in a statement on Friday that the court has set Aug. 15 as the date for a new hearing on the Panama-flagged Grace 1, which was intercepted off the southern tip of Spain.
British Royal Marines boarded the ship July 4 amid suspicion it was taking a shipment of Iranian crude oil to Syria, deepening Persian Gulf tensions
The EU has imposed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government over its continued crackdown against civilians.
Gibraltar police have arrested the vessel’s captain, chief officer and two second mates as part of their investigation. All are Indian.
The price of oil is up as tensions escalate in the Persian Gulf region, where a fifth of the world’s crude is shipped through.
Energy prices rose on Friday, a day after President Donald said a U.S. warship had downed an Iranian drone. Iran denies its drone was struck and says all its unmanned aircraft in the region returned to base safely.
It’s the latest incident to increase uncertainty in the region, where oil tankers have been attacked or threatened recently.
About 20% of all oil traded worldwide passes through the Persian Gulf, so investors are aware of the potential for disruptions to ship traffic.
The U.S. benchmark for crude oil advanced 77 cents, or 1.4%, to $56.07 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the international oil standard, picked up $1.03, or 1.7%, to $62.96 per barrel.
The head of Gibraltar’s government says he met privately with Iranian officials to defuse tensions surrounding the seizure of an Iranian supertanker near the British overseas territory.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told parliament on Friday that the meeting in London earlier this week “was both constructive and positive.”
Picardo says he wants to “de-escalate” after the interception of the Panama-flagged tanker off the southern tip of Spain on July 4.
The tanker is suspected of carrying Iranian oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, and its seizure stoked international tensions over the Persian Gulf.
Picardo says he met with the Iranian officials at the Foreign Office in London on Wednesday, after asking the British government to approach Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about talks. Picardo says he told the officials that due process of law must be followed and that the case is before Gibraltar’s Supreme Court.
— this item has been corrected to show that Picardo met with Iranian officials, not the foreign minister;
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is praising French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to facilitate talks between Iran and the United States, saying diplomatic efforts are critical.
Merkel told reporters on Friday that “every possibility for contact should be sought to prevent an escalation.”
Since the U.S. unilaterally pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran last year, the other parties to the agreement — Germany, France, Britain, Russia, China and the European Union — have been trying to preserve it.
But Merkel says “the fact that we are keeping to this agreement doesn’t mean that we don’t see a lot of what Iran is doing very critically, like the influence on Syria, the attitude to Israel, the influence in the Yemen war concerns us a lot, the ballistic missile program.”
She says that “outside the agreement, there is good reason for further talks with Iran about these activities.”
China has praised an Iranian offer to speed up ratification of an agreement on access to its nuclear sites, while criticizing the latest U.S. sanctions on Chinese and other entities for allegedly helping Iran buy materials for its nuclear program.
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Friday that the offer from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sends “a positive signal that Iran is willing to seek a compromise solution.”
The Iranian parliament is not due to ratify the agreement with the International Atomic Energy Association until 2023.
The U.S. has imposed new sanctions on companies and individuals in Iran, China and Belgium.
Geng said China opposes America’s “long-armed jurisdiction over other countries, including China.” He called U.S. unilateral sanctions the root cause of the current tension.
Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard says it will release images taken by a drone that President Donald Trump says was hit by a U.S. warship to disprove his claim.
The Guard’s website, sepahnews.com, published a statement on Friday saying these images will show the Guard’s drone had been carrying out its regular mission as the USS Boxer arrived in the Strait of Hormuz.
It didn’t say when the images would be released.
Trump on Thursday said the USS Boxer took defensive action after an Iranian drone came within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.
The Guard said the drone sent images before and after the time the Americans claimed the aircraft was destroyed on Thursday. The Iranian drone reportedly later returned to base safely.
The statement added that Guard forces continue to carefully monitor all movements of foreigners — especially “the terrorist forces” of the U.S. and the British in the strategic Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf.
An Iranian lawmaker says the U.S. president is seeking to increase tensions in the Persian Gulf region by “falsely claiming” that a U.S. warship targeted an Iranian drone.
Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, spokesman of the parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, says that “with such allegations, America plans to create tensions and psychological warfare in the region and in Iran, and hide its failures.”
His remarks were carried by the semi-official ISNA news agency on Friday.
President Donald Trump on Thursday said an American warship, the USS Boxer, took defensive action after an Iranian drone came within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.
Hosseini also added that “Trump’s claim is not endorsed by anyone, because it is not true.”
An Iranian news agency is reporting that the country’s armed forces say all Iranian drones in the Persian Gulf returned safely to their bases.
The report comes after President Donald Trump on Thursday said an American warship, the USS Boxer, took defensive action after an Iranian drone came within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.
The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted military spokesman Gen. Abolfazl Shekari as saying on Friday that “all Iranian drones that are in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, including the one which the U.S. president mentioned, after carrying out scheduled identification and control missions, have returned to their bases.”
Gen. Shekarchi also said there have been no reports of any confrontation between the USS Boxer and an Iranian drone.
Iran is denying a U.S. warship destroyed an Iranian drone in the strategic Strait of Hormuz after it threatened the ship.
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi tweeted on Friday: “We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else.”
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is in New York for U.N. meetings, said there’s “no information about losing a drone.”
President Donald Trump on Thursday said the USS Boxer took defensive action after an Iranian drone closed to within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.
The incident marked a new escalation of tensions between the countries, less than one month after Iran downed an American drone in the same waterway and Trump came close to retaliating with a military strike.
Pompeo accuses Iran of 'unprecedented attack' after drones hit Saudi oil facilities
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/pompeo ... -saudi-oil
Graham: US should consider strike on Iranian oil refineries after attack on Saudi Arabia
https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/461 ... -attack-on
Yemen's Houthi rebels claim a 'large-scale' drone attack on Saudi oil facilities
https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/14/middleea ... index.html
Drone attack by Yemeni rebels sets off fires at major Saudi Arabian oil facilities
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/wor ... 325055001/
Saudi Arabia's largest oil processing facility on fire after drone attacks
7 minutes ago
Video: Drone attack in Saudi Arabia causes fire at an Aramco factory in Abqaiq (ABC News)
Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group have attacked and set fire to two oil plants central to Saudi Arabia's oil production, including the world's biggest petroleum processing facility.
Drones have attacked Saudi Arabia's biggest oil facilities, causing huge fires
It is not clear if there were any injuries in the attacks or if oil production will be impacted
Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attacks
Saudi Arabia said it had brought the blazes under control, but three sources close to the matter said oil production and exports had been disrupted from the Saudi Aramco facilities.
Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack on the Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq and the second drone strike on Khurais — the country's second largest oil field.
The group's military spokesman said the attacks were carried out by 10 drones and promised to continue its attacks on Saudi Arabia.
"These attacks are our right, and we warn the Saudis that our targets will keep expanding," spokesman Yahya Saree said in a statement read out on the rebels' Al Masirah TV.
"We have the right to strike back in retaliation to the air strikes and the targeting of our civilians for the last five years."
Half of Saudi Arabia's oil exports potentially affected
Looking across a Saudi Arabian desert field, you electric cable towers as the horizon is blanketed by dark grey smoke. Photo: Smoke billowed across the horizon following the drone strike in Abqaiq. (Reuters)
The drone strikes on the world's biggest oil exporter come as Saudi Aramco accelerates plans for an initial public offering of the state oil giant to as early as this year, and follow earlier cross-border attacks on Saudi oil installations and on oil tankers in Gulf waters.
The attacks appeared to be the most brazen yet.
Online videos apparently shot in Buqyaq, which is some 330 kilometres north-east of the capital Riyadh, included the sound of gunfire in the background and flames shooting out of the Abqaiq oil processing facility.
Smoke rose over the skyline and glowing flames could be seen a distance away.
Australia's secret arms deals
Australia's secret arms deals
The Australian Government has approved the export of dozens of shipments of military items to Middle Eastern countries embroiled in the bloody Yemen war.
Authorities have not reported on casualties. A Reuters witness nearby said at least 15 ambulances were seen in the area and there was a heavy security presence around Abqaiq.
The oil processing plant handles crude from the world's largest conventional oilfield, the supergiant Ghawar, and for export to terminals Ras Tanura — the world's biggest offshore oil loading facility — and Juaymah.
One source said 5 million barrels per day of crude production had been impacted — close to half the kingdom's output — but did not elaborate.
State television said exports were continuing but Aramco has yet to comment since the pre-dawn attack and authorities have not said whether oil production or exports were affected.
Who are the Houthi rebels?
Several people inspect huge amounts of rubble at the destroyed prison complex Photo: At least 100 people were killed at a Houthi detention centre by Saudi-led airstrikes in early September. (AP: Hani Mohammed)
The Houthi rebels have been battling a Saudi-led coalition of regional countries since 2015, when the coalition intervened in Yemen in support of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who had been forced out of power by the Houthis.
Saudi Arabia, leading a Sunni Muslim military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis, has blamed Iran for previous attacks, which Tehran denies.
The Iran-backed rebels hold Yemen's capital, Sanaa, and other territory in the Arab world's poorest country.
Riyadh accuses Iran of arming the Houthis, a charge denied by the group and Tehran.
Who's who in the Yemen conflict
Who's who in the Yemen conflict
Yemen has been in the grip of an increasingly complex civil war since 2011, as several competing factions fight for control of the Middle East's poorest country.
The war has become one of the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
The violence has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine and killed more than 90,000 people since 2015, according to the US-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, which tracks the conflict.
The coalition launches air strikes almost every day, while the Houthis often fire missiles into Saudi Arabia.
Since the start of the Saudi-led war, Houthi rebels have been using drones in combat.
The first appeared to be off-the-shelf, hobby-kit-style drones, but later, versions nearly identical to Iranian models turned up. Iran denies supplying the Houthis with weapons.
The Houthis launched drone attacks targeting Saudi Arabia's crucial East-West Pipeline in May as tensions heightened between Iran and the US.
A man carries a young girl through rubble after an air strike in Yemen. Photo: A man carries a child rescued from the site of a Saudi-led air strike that killed eight of her family members in Sanaa, Yemen in 2017. (Reuters: Khaled Abdullah)
UN investigators said the Houthis' new UAV-X drone, found in recent months during the Saudi-led coalition's war in Yemen, likely has a range of up to 1,500 kilometres.
That puts the far reaches of both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in range.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-14/ ... s/11513728
Donald J. Trump
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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!
ABC News Politics
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"The Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this if we decide to do something ... and that includes payment and they understand that fully," Trump tells @jonkarl when asked if he thinks it's the responsibility of the Saudis to defend themselves http://abcn.ws/30gqPTO
It seems that Congress shouldn't accept Admin claims abt the Saudi attack until they learn whether the whistleblower complaint to ICIG pertained to Gina Haspel lying about intel on same on orders from Mike Pompeo.
While Sec. Pompeo very quickly blames Iran for drone strikes on Saudi oil facilities, note how others (UK, France, Germany, EU) don't.
UK specifically calls on Houthis to cease attacks.
EU says need to "clearly establish the facts and determine responsibility."
White House to stand down on Iran
Monday September 16, 2019 · 8:17 AM CDT
Following the drone attacks this weekend on Saudi Arabian oil fields by Houthi rebels in Yemen, attacks that have purportedly damaged half of Saudi Arabia’s oil capacity and temporarily disrupted the flow of five percent of the world’s oil output, Donald Trump tweeted last night that the United States was “locked and loaded,” and ready to punish those responsible.Donald J. Trump
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!
5:50 PM - Sep 15, 2019
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“Locked and loaded” sounds pretty threatening. And it’s obviously a phrase intended to impress Trump’s Fox News -watching, chest-thumping, aging, white male base, tingling whatever is left of their testosterone in between their multiple trips to the bathroom.
Since the Houthi rebels are being backed by Iran in what has essentially become a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, it seems a fairly reasonable supposition that Iran was aware of and may have even planned the attack themselves. And, in fact, the administration stated as much over the weekend, albeit with no evidence to support the accusation.Washington (CNN)Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pinned the blame on Iran for an attack at a Saudi oil field in a pair of tweets Saturday.
"Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen," Pompeo continued, providing no evidence that Iran was behind the attacks.
But Trump’s pals in the Kremlin have a close, strategic and economic relationship with Iran, and all this “tough talk” makes them jittery. So this morning Uncle Vlad dispatched one of his minions to send their White House lackey a clear signal to stand down.MOSCOW, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Russia on Monday urged countries in the Middle East and outside the region not to draw “hasty conclusions” on who staged the attacks on Saudi oil facilities.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked about the U.S. statement, said: “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.”
In a separate statement on Monday, Russia’s foreign ministry said it believed that the exchange of strikes on civilian targets was “a direct consequence of the ongoing sharp military and political crisis in Yemen”.
They couldn’t have made their directive to Trump any clearer. In fact, they even threw him a bone to make sure he was paying attention.“We believe it is counterproductive to use what happened to increase tensions around Iran in line with the well-known U.S. policy,” the foreign ministry said.
Isn’t that nice of them to credit our policy?
Lo and behold, just as the Kremlin issued its “warning,” here’s what we get from the White House: backtracking.President Trump's claim the US is “locked and loaded” may not refer to military action, the vice president’s chief of staff said Monday, calling the term tweeted by Trump “broad.”
“I think that locked and loaded is a broad term and talks about the realities that we’re all far safer and more secure domestically from energy independence,” Marc Short told reporters on the White House lawn. “This is not the 1970s oil embargo. It’s not 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. We’re now a net oil exporter which means that the American market is much better protected.”
Nice to be reminded of who is calling the shots now.
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/9 ... wn-on-Iran
Huh—ballistic missiles? @WSJ? “U.S. officials shared with Saudi Arabia the intelligence reports and their assessment that Iran launched more than 20 drones and at least a dozen ballistic missiles at the Saudi oil facilities on Saturday”
U.S. Tells Saudi Arabia Oil Attacks Were Launched From Iran
Before Saturday’s strikes, and after, where a satellite image from Planet Labs Inc. shows black smoke rising from Saudi Aramco's Abqaiq oil processing facility. PHOTO: PLANET LABS VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS
By Dion Nissenbaum in Beirut, Summer Said in Dubai and Jared Malsin in Tunis, Tunisia
Updated Sept. 16, 2019 11:53 pm ET
U.S. intelligence indicates Iran was the staging ground for a debilitating attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, people familiar with the discussions said, as Washington and the kingdom weighed how to respond and oil prices soared.
Monday’s assessment, which the U.S. hasn’t shared publicly, came as President Trump said he hoped to avoid a war with Iran and as Saudi Arabia asked United Nations experts to help determine who was responsible for the airstrikes.
The attack sent Brent crude, the international benchmark for crude prices, soaring 15% to $69.02 a barrel on Monday, the largest gain recorded in over three decades. Higher fuel prices pose another threat to the world economy amid a U.S.-China trade dispute, although Saudi and U.S. officials said they would ensure that the oil market remains well supplied.
U.S. officials shared with Saudi Arabia the intelligence reports and their assessment that Iran launched more than 20 drones and at least a dozen missiles at the Saudi oil facilities on Saturday, the people familiar said.
But Saudi officials said the U.S. didn’t provide enough proof to conclude that the attack was launched from Iran, indicating the U.S. information wasn’t definitive. U.S. officials said they planned to share more information with the Saudis in the coming days.
Saturday’s attack on a Saudi oil facility could have long-lasting repercussions. Heard on the Street editor Spencer Jakab explains how it could impact the global markets. Photo: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters
Unless the kingdom makes the same determination, the U.S. would have trouble galvanizing regional support for a unified response, Western officials and analysts in the region said.
In Riyadh, the Saudi military offered its first assessment on Monday, which stopped far short of accusing Iran of orchestrating the strikes.
The Saudi-led coalition fighting a war in Yemen against Iran-allied Houthi rebels said that the weapons used in the attack were Iranian made and it dismissed claims of responsibility by the Houthis.
In Washington, Mr. Trump offered a more conciliatory message toward Iran. After a weekend warning that the U.S. was “locked and loaded,” the Republican president said Monday that he wanted to avoid a war with Iran.
“Do I want war?” he said to reporters in the Oval Office. “I don’t want war with anybody.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been in touch with leaders in the Middle East...
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been in touch with leaders in the Middle East to discuss the situation. PHOTO: MICHAEL CONROY/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Diplomacy, he said, is “never exhausted until the final 12 seconds.”
Mr. Trump said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other administration officials would soon travel to Saudi Arabia.
After weighing the Trump administration information, Saudi Arabia said it was going to invite U.N. experts to investigate and would wait for the results before deciding how to respond. U.S. officials asked members of the U.N. Panel of Experts on Yemen, which investigates the origins of weapons used in the conflict, to fly to Saudi Arabia as soon as possible.
At the U.N., U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft told the Security Council that “emerging information indicates that responsibility lies with Iran.” The U.K., a key U.S. ally, didn’t immediately assign blame for the attacks, saying it is assessing what happened and who was responsible.
U.S. and Saudi officials were split over how to respond. Some want to strike Iran militarily, while others worry an attack could trigger a wider regional fight, officials in both countries said.
The Saturday attack hit the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry with a series of drone and missile strikes that left Riyadh reeling. The country is struggling to repair the damage and limit the fallout to the energy industry.
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Saudi Arabia is now considering whether to delay plans by Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state oil-and-gas company, for an initial public offering, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The developments have already undermined efforts to broker a meeting between Mr. Trump and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran next week at the United Nations General Assembly. Iran said on Monday that its president wouldn’t meet Mr. Trump after the U.S. said it was open to such a meeting.
Mr. Rouhani said on Monday that the attack was an act of self-defense by Yemeni Houthi rebels. “Every day, Yemen is being bombed and peaceful civilians are dying,” he said during a trilateral summit with Russian and Turkish counterparts in Ankara. “When security is restored in Yemen, then it will be possible again to produce oil safely in [Saudi Arabia].”
The latest attacks pose a critical test for the U.S.-Saudi relationship, especially for Mr. Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler. They have both shifted their country’s foreign policies toward confrontation with Iran.
The strikes on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure have led to a production shutdown on a scale the world hasn’t seen for decades. It could have long-lasting consequences for global markets and politics. Photo: Reuters
Mr. Trump met Monday with his national security team to discuss the attacks on Saudi Arabia and escalating tensions in the Middle East, a person familiar with the meetings said.
Mr. Trump and his team, which included Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and acting national security adviser Charles Kupperman, discussed possible military action against Iran, but made no decisions, a second person familiar with the discussions said.
On Monday, Mr. Trump said he is not yet considering military options and that he expects Saudi Arabia to play a central role in any response.
“The fact is the Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this, if we decide to do something,” he said.
Robert Malley, president of International Crisis Group and former White House Middle East coordinator under President Obama, said, “Both President Trump and Mohammed bin Salman feel the need to respond but neither wants war. The question is how they achieve the former without provoking the latter.”
The U.S. has taken the lead in providing security for the Persian Gulf monarchies for decades in part out of a strategy of protecting the world’s oil supply. As a result, observers of the region expect Saudi Arabia might defer any military action to the U.S.
“At the end of the day, conventional military action is a last resort for any state, and it is something that would be done in coordination with regional and international stakeholders,” said Mohamed Alyahya, a Saudi political analyst and editor of the English website of Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television.
“Any reaction whatsoever, or lack thereof, will have significant consequences on the future of the region,” he said.
On Monday, Mr. Trump tweeted a reminder of Iran’s behavior when it shot down a U.S. drone in June, a strike that led the U.S. to prepare a military strike against Iran. Mr. Trump called off the strike after having second thoughts.
“Remember when Iran shot down a drone, saying knowingly that it was in their ‘airspace’ when, in fact, it was nowhere close,” he wrote. “They stuck strongly to that story knowing that it was a very big lie. Now they say they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?”
The weekend strikes marked the most significant attack in a simmering conflict pitting the U.S. and its Middle East allies against Iran and its proxies around the region.
Mr. Trump imposed crippling sanctions on Iran that have delivered a blow to the country’s economy.
Iran’s crude oil production capacity was nearly 4 million barrels a day before the revival of U.S. sanctions, making it a leading oil supplier. The country’s refining capacity now is about half that amount.
In recent months, the U.S. has accused Iran of carrying out a series of attacks in the region, including blasts that crippled several tankers in the Persian Gulf.
Amid the heightened tensions, the U.S. sent warships, jet fighters, bombers and troops to the Middle East, including more than 500 military personnel and a squadron of fighters to the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. Much of that buildup remains in place, officials said.
The prospect of U.S. military action drew divergent reactions from lawmakers. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) called over the weekend for the U.S. to put an attack on Iranian oil refineries “on the table.”
Others cautioned against military action. Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Utah) warned on Twitter Monday that any “direct engagement by U.S. military in response to Iran’s attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure would be a grave mistake.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) was more blunt: “The U.S. should never go to war to protect Saudi oil,” he tweeted on Sunday.
Saturday’s strikes demonstrated how a war with Iran could be devastating for Saudi Arabia, with the lifeblood of the kingdom’s economy vulnerable to attack despite hundreds of billions of dollars spent on its military.
The attacks have amplified the pressure on the Saudi government to respond. Its air defenses have failed to stop the attacks on Saturday and other incidents involving the Houthis in the months before, despite the kingdom having the world’s third-largest military budget.
Among other weapons, the kingdom has both American-made Patriot and Hawk missile systems, both of which have failed to stop a series of drone and missile attacks since May. The Saudi government says it has shot down several drones in the past.
—Isabel Coles, Vivian Salama, Lindsay Wise, David Gauthier-Villars and Ian Talley contributed to this article.
Officials say intelligence points to Iran as staging ground for strikes, as allies weigh retaliation
https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-tells- ... 1568644126
Disputing Trump’s claims, Japan says no evidence Iran was behind Saudi attack
Written by Jake Johnson / Common Dreams September 18, 2019
Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono told reporters Wednesday that he has not seen any intelligence indicating Iran was behind the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities over the weekend, contradicting Saudi and Trump administration claims about the incident.
“We are not aware of any information that points to Iran,” Kono said during a press briefing. “We believe the Houthis carried out the attack based on the statement claiming responsibility.”
The only evidence the Trump administration has released to substantiate its claim of Iranian responsibility are satellite photos that experts said are not clear enough to assign blame. Ret. Gen. Mark Hertling, a CNN intelligence analyst, said the images “really don’t show anything, other than pretty good accuracy on the strike of the oil tanks.”
Kono said Japan, an ally of both Iran and the U.S., is still in the process of determining who was behind the attacks, which were allegedly carried out by drones.
“Given Japan’s strong ties with the U.S. based on the U.S.-Japan Alliance, and the relationship of trust that Japan has with various countries located in the Middle East, Japan is in a position to fulfill a mediating role,” said Kono.
The defense minister’s statement is the second time this year Japan has contradicted the Trump administration’s attempt to pin an attack on Iran with insufficient evidence. In June, as Common Dreams reported, the Trump administration blamed Iran for an explosion that damaged a Japanese oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman. Yutaka Katada, president of the Japanese company that owns the tanker, publicly disputed the White House’s account of the attack.
Japan is not the only major nation to express skepticism about the Trump administration’s rush to blame Iran for the attacks, which briefly paralyzed Saudi oil production and sent crude prices soaring.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tuesday that he is not aware of evidence demonstrating Iranian involvement, despite claims by U.S. and Saudi officials.
“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,” said Le Drian. “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.”
BenDhyan » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:06 pm wrote:The earlier staged oil tanker episode was an attempt to get the US to attack Iran, it failed because the evidence was not credible that Iran was actually behind it,
this is just another attempt to do the same, I suspect it was staged as was the tanker attacks.