The greater international community has been holding its collective breath, waiting to see how the U.S. — President Donald Trump — would respond to the recent drone strikes on the Abqaiq oil facility in Saudi Arabia.
The September 14 attack was “unprecedented in its accuracy and scale,” according to The Independent. Photos taken from U.S. satellites show key punctured sections of the oil facility, and images released from Saudi Arabia yesterday, per The Independent, show debris from drones and missiles that they claim to be of current Iranian design.
The Houthi rebel group from Yemen has claimed responsibility for the attack. Contextually, the war between Yemen and Saudi Arabia has been on-going for the past four and a half years. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the attack was in response to the growing Saudi military action on the Arabian Peninsula, with the Houthis stating they had assistance from within the Saudi Kingdom itself. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is pointing to Iran as the sponsor of the Houthi attack, according to The Independent article.
While Saudi Arabia and the U.S. seem to be convinced Iran was behind the precision strike, Iran is strenuously denying its involvement. However, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a senior commander with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, said the Iranian military was ready for a “full-fledged” war against the U.S., should military action be deemed necessary.
So far, it seems like that is not the case. Trump stated in a tweet late Sunday that he would wait “to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!” Although Saudi Arabia claims to have evidence of Iranian involvement, per The Independent article, they have yet to officially announce whom they believe the perpetrators to be.
For his part, Trump has withheld using military force, instead opting for a response with which he is more familiar — economic sanctions. He tweeted on Wednesday that he was directing the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury to “substantially increase Sanctions [sic] on the country of Iran!”
While other U.S. officials seem to be pushing for further military action against Iran, the president has yet to act. Growing tensions between the two countries seem closer to the boiling point, however. Members of the international community, including NATO, the European Union, and the U.N. Security Council, have been cautioning for restraint, with even the Kremlin “urging the US not to make any ‘hasty conclusions’ about the attack,” per The Independent.
Those wishing for a diplomatic solution may be out of luck, though. Visas for President Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to enter the U.S. to attend the U.N. General Assembly meeting set to start later this week have still not arrived, according to The Independent.
As of this writing, there is no word yet on just what level of sanctions Trump intends to levy on the Iranian Republic.