Yesterday, drones hit an oil pipeline that runs across Saudi Arabia. The attacks happened near the capital of Riyadh. Rebels in Yemen claim they carried out coordinated drone strikes as a warning to the kingdom. Now global oil supplies could be affected.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim they launched seven drones in Saudi Arabia, which borders Yemen to the north. Saudi Arabia has been at war with the Houthis in Yemen since March 2015. Saudi Arabia targets the Iranian-allied rebels with near daily airstrikes.
“This is a message to Saudi Arabia: Stop your aggression,” says Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Salam.
Houthi drones targeted two petroleum pumping stations supplying a pipeline running from Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province to a port on the Red Sea. The attacks demonstrate increased risks in a region vital to global energy supplies.
Tuesday’s drone attacks followed weekend reports of damage to several oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. The incidents come amid increased tensions following U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers—and the re-instituting of U.S. sanctions (penalties) meant to cripple the Iranian economy.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih calls the pipeline attack “cowardly.” He says recent acts of sabotage against the kingdom target not only Saudi Arabia but also the safety of the world’s energy supply and global economy.
Further, Al-Falih believes the attacks confirm the international community’s need to confront the activities of groups like the Houthis, whom he accuses of being backed by Iran.
The United States supports Saudi Arabia and its allies in the war against the Houthis, despite criticism that Saudi-led airstrikes have killed civilians. Both the United States and the United Nations accuse Iran of supplying missile technology and arms to the Houthis.
Although Saudi Arabia claims oil production will not change because of the strikes, global oil prices rose on Tuesday.
(A fisherman prepares his boat near an oil storage tank in the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia says Monday two of its oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. One of them was en route to pick up Saudi oil to take to the United States. AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)