Archives‎ > ‎

Houthi drone attacks on Saudi sites, from Peter Myers

Al Jazeera reported increased Houthi drone attacks on Saudi sites, on Sept 14Trump and Pompeo are trying to blame Iran, and some Western news agencies are calling for an attack on Iran - e.g. Bloomberg (item 4). To counter that hysteria, I provide reports from Al Jazeera, which has no vested interest in this matter; including a report on Sept 14: "'Houthis step up attacks on Saudi sites as retaliation for Saudi bombing" (item 3). The war in Yemen was initiated by Saudi Arabia; the solution is to stop the war.(1) Yemen's Houthi rebels claim attacks on Saudi facilities - Al Jazeera Sept 16(2) Iran rejects US accusation over drone attacks on Aramco plants(3) Houthis step up attacks on Saudi sites as retaliation for Saudi bombing - Al Jazeera Sept 14(4) Bloomberg Editorial Board calls for attack on Iran(5) Economist: Rebel group in Yemen claims responsibility(1) Yemen's Houthi rebels claim attacks on Saudi facilities - Al Jazeera Sept 16https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/drones-hit-saudi-aramco-facilities-fires-190914051900472.htmlHouthi drone attacks on 2 Saudi Aramco oil facilities spark firesYemen's Houthi rebels claim attacks on facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, vow to widen range of targets in Saudi Arabia.September 16, 2019Drone attacks claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels have caused fires at two major facilities run by Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil giant, disrupting output and exports.Citing an interior ministry spokesperson, the official Saudi Press Agency said on Saturday the blazes at the facilities in Abqaiq - home to the company's largest oil processing plant - and Khurais were under control."At 4.00am (01:00 GMT) the industrial security teams of Aramco started dealing with fires at two of its facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais as a result of ... drones," it said, without specifying any casualties.Two sources close to the matter told Reuters news agency that 5 million barrels a day of crude production had been impacted - close to half of the kingdom's output or 5 percent of global oil supply.Online videos showed smoke rising above the company's facility in Abqaiq as what sounded like gunfire could be heard in the background.Later on Saturday, the Houthis said the attacks were carried out by 10 drones and promised to widen the range of its attacks on Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition battling them in neighbouring Yemen."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."The Saudi-led coalition said it was investigating the drone attacks and would confront "terrorist" threats to global energy security."Investigations are ongoing to determine the parties responsible for planning and executing these terrorist attacks," coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said in an English-language statement.He said the Western-backed military alliance would take the necessary measures to "safeguard national assets, international energy security and ensure stability of world economy".In March 2015, the Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in support of the internationally recognised President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was forced out of power by the Houthis.The war has killed tens of thousands of people and sparked what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.In recent months, the rebels have carried out a series of drone and missile attacks targeting Saudi air bases and other facilities. In August, a Houthi-claimed attack sparked a fire at Aramco's Shaybah natural gas liquefaction facility but no casualties were reported by the company.Saudi Aramco describes its Abqaiq oil processing facility, some 60 kilometres (37 miles) southwest of Dhahran in the kingdom's Eastern Province, as "the largest crude oil stabilisation plant in the world".The facility processes sour crude oil into sweet crude, then later transports it to transshipment points on the Gulf and the Red Sea. Estimates suggest it can process up to seven million barrels of crude oil a day.The plant has been targeted in the past - in February 2006, al-Qaeda-claimed suicide bombers tried but failed to attack the oil complex.The Khurais complex is located about 160km (99 miles) from the capital, Riyadh. It has estimated reserves of more than 20bn barrels of oil, according to Aramco.In a Twitter post on Saturday, US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid said Washington "strongly" condemned the attacks on the two facilities."These attacks against critical infrastructure endanger civilians, are unacceptable, and sooner or later will result in innocent lives being lost," he wrote.'Major blow'There was no immediate effect on global oil prices as markets were closed for the weekend across the world. Benchmark Brent crude had been trading at just above $60 a barrel.Saudi state TV reported later on Saturday that the kingdom's "oil exports are ongoing", citing its own correspondent.Al Jazeera's Osama Bin Javaid, who has examined the strategic importance of the oil giant in his documentary titled Saudi Aramco: The Company and the State, said the attack "is going to be a major blow for oil production"."Saudi Aramco is not an ordinary company. It is a company which runs the country," he said from Doha."We don't know how much of the facility has been damaged but this will bring down Saudi oil production to a fraction of what it is now. This will also have an impact on global oil production."The attacks come as Saudi Arabia, the world's leading crude exporter, steps up preparations for a much-anticipated initial public offering of Aramco.The company is ready for a two-stage stock market debut including an international listing "very soon", its CEO Amin Nasser told reporters earlier this week.(2) Iran rejects US accusation over drone attacks on Aramco plantshttps://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/iran-rejects-accusation-drone-attacks-aramco-plants-190915083207652.htmlIran rejects US accusation over drone attacks on Aramco plantsForeign ministry dismisses as 'meaningless' allegations by US top diplomat that Tehran is behind Houthi-claimed attacks.Iran has dismissed accusations by the United States that Tehran was behind drone attacks that set ablaze two major Saudi Aramco oil installations, as Saudi Arabia raced to restore operations at the damaged facilities.Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for Saturday's assault on Abqaiq - the world's largest oil processing plant - and the Khurais oilfield. The pre-dawn strikes knocked out more than half of crude output from the world's top exporter.US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran, saying it "has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply"."There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen," Pompeo said on Twitter, referring to the Houthis' claim of responsibility. He did not provide any evidence to support his claim.In response, Iran's foreign ministry on Sunday called the US allegations "meaningless" and said they were meant to justify actions against Iran."Such remarks ... are more like plotting by intelligence and secret organisations to damage the reputation of a country and create a framework for future actions," spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.'Maximum pressure' Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated since May last year, when Washington unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 multinational deal that promised Tehran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.Since its withdrawal, the US  has slapped crippling sanctions on Iran as part of a campaign of "maximum pressure"."Having failed at 'max pressure', US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo turning to 'max deceit'," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter on Sunday."US and its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory," he added, calling for talks to end the war in the Arab world's most impoverished country.With support from the US, Saudi Arabia has been leading since March 2015 a military coalition fighting the Houthis in support of Yemen's internationally recognised government.The war has killed tens of thousands of people, thrust millions to the brink of famine and spawned the world's most devastating humanitarian crisis.Human rights groups have criticised the Saudi-led coalition for targeting civilians at hospitals, schools and markets, while also condemning Western countries for providing it with arms. In April, US President Donald Trump vetoed a bipartisan resolution that would have forced the US military to end its support to the coalition forces.In a phone call on Saturday, Trump told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that Washington was ready to work with the kingdom to guarantee its security, according to a statement by the White House.MBS, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, told Trump the kingdom was "willing and able" to respond to the drone attacks.Saudi Arabia has long accused Iran of supplying the Houthis with missiles and drones, a charge both Iran and the group reject - Iran says it supports the rebels diplomatically and politically but denies providing them with any military aid.'Iran always ready for war' Meanwhile, Washington's accusations throw into doubt reported efforts by Trump to arrange a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly later this month."This is being seen by many here as an attempt yet again to try to pressure Iran to have this meeting," Al Jazeera's Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from Tehran, said."By accusing Iran without any evidence of being behind such an attack, analysts say the US government is trying to force Iran's hands to the negotiating table - but the Iranians have said over and over again that ... under the current conditions - the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and the imposition of a series of sanctions - they will not have that dialogue."Separately, a commander with Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said on Sunday that US bases and aircraft carriers around Iran were within range of the country's missiles."Everybody should know that all American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000 kilometres (1,243 miles) around Iran are within the range of our missiles," Amirali Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by the semi-official Tasnim news agency."Iran has always been ready for a "full-fledged" war", he added, without mentioning Saturday's attacks in Saudi Arabia.Restoring productionWhile international markets remained closed on Sunday, Saturday's attacks could shock global energy prices.The Houthis have hit Saudi Arabia's energy infrastructure before but Saturday's assault was of a different order, abruptly halting 5.7 million barrels per day or about six percent of the world's oil supply.Still, the full extent of the damage was not clear, nor the type of weapons used, and reporters were kept away from the damaged facilities amid increased security.The drone attacks came as Saudi Arabia steps up preparations for a much-anticipated initial public offering of Aramco, the world's most profitable company.The state-owned oil giant said it had extinguished the blazes, which caused no casualties, and was working to restore production levels.Saudi Arabia's newly appointed Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said part of the drop would be offset by drawing on vast storage facilities designed to be tapped in times of crisis.Riyadh has built five giant underground storage facilities across the country that can hold tens of millions of barrels of various refined petroleum products.SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES(3) Houthis step up attacks on Saudi sites as retaliation for Saudi-led bombing - Al Jazeera Sept 14https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/timeline-houthis-drone-missile-attacks-saudi-targets-190914102845479.htmlTimeline: Houthis' drone and missile attacks on Saudi targetsHouthis step up attacks on Saudi sites in what they call retaliation for Saudi-led bombing of Yemen's rebel-held areas.14 Sept 2019For more than four years, Yemen has been ravaged by a war between the Houthi rebels and the internationally-recognised government backed by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, thrust millions to the brink of famine and spawned the world's most devastating humanitarian crisis.With logistical support from the United States, the Saudi-UAE-led coalition has carried out more than 18,000 raids on Houthi-held areas in an attempt to reverse their gains. Human rights groups have criticised the alliance for targeting civilians at hospitals, schools and markets, while also condemning Western countries for providing it with arms.The Houthi rebels, on their part, have in recent months stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi targets.On Saturday, they claimed responsibility for drone attacks on two major oil facilities run by state oil giant Saudi Aramco, and promised to widen the range of their targets.Here is a timeline of recent attacks on Saudi targets claimed by Houthis, or blamed on them.January 5, 2018: Saudi state-owned media says the kingdom's defence forces intercepted a Houthi missile over the Najran province, on the southern border with Yemen, before it could hit its intended target.The rebel group claims responsibility for the attack, saying on Twitter it had a "successful launch of a short range ballistic missile at a military target in Saudi Arabia".March 31, 2018: Saudi Arabia says it intercepted a missile fired by the Houthis targeting the southern city of Najran.June 24, 2018: Saudi Arabia says its air defence forces intercepted and destroyed two Houthi ballistic missiles over Riyadh.At least six loud explosions were heard and bright flashes were seen in the sky over the capital, reports say.The Houthi-run Al Masirah TV says Burkan missiles were fired at the Saudi Ministry of Defence and other targets.Tanker targetedJuly 25, 2018: Houthi rebels attack a Saudi oil tanker in the Red Sea, causing slight damage, according to the Saudi-UAE-led coalition.A statement by the coalition says the tanker was attacked in the west of Yemen's Hodeidah port but does not name the vessel or describe how it was attacked.The Houthis' Al Masirah TV reports that the group targeted The Dammam warship off the western coast of Yemen.August 9, 2018: Saudi Arabia intercepts two missiles fired by the Houthis at its southern Jizan province, the official Saudi Press Agency quotes a military spokesman as saying.Al Masirah TV says the Houthis fired a number of ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia, targeting the border provinces of Jizan and Aseer.April 3, 2019: Coalition says it intercepted two drones launched by the Houthis towards the city of Khamis Mushait.Spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said debris caused by the interception of the two drones wounded five civilians in the city.May 14, 2019: Saudi Arabia says armed drones struck two of its oil-pumping stations west of Riyadh.The Aramco East-West pipeline, stretching across the country to the port and oil terminal at Yanbu, was damaged in two places.May 20, 2019: The Saudi military says it shot down two ballistic missiles reportedly heading towards the cities of Jeddah and Mecca.The forces "monitored air targets flying over restricted areas in Jeddah and Taif province, and were dealt with accordingly," al-Maliki says,Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV, citing witnesses, reports that air defence forces intercepted two ballistic missiles over Jeddah and Taif and says the first one was directed towards Mecca, without providing evidence.The Houthis deny their missiles were targeting Mecca, a pilgrimage site some 70 kilometres (43.5 miles) from Jeddah and 50km (31 miles) from Taif. The group calls claim a tactic by Riyadh to rally support for its war.Airport attacksJune 12, 2019: Houthi rebels fire a missile at Abha airport in southern Saudi Arabia, wounding 26 civilians in the building's arrivals hall, according to the Saudi-UAE-led coalition.The coalition says a projectile hit the arrivals hall at Abha airport, causing material damage. Three women and two children were among the wounded, it adds, noting that they were of Saudi, Yemeni and Indian nationalities.June 17, 2019: Houthi rebels launch a drone attack targeting Abha airport, the group's Al Masirah TV says. There is no immediate Saudi confirmation of the attack.June 20, 2019: The rebels hit a power station in Jizan province with a "cruise missile", Al Masirah TV says.The coalition confirms Houthi forces fired a "projectile" at a desalination plant in al-Shuqaiq city but says no one was wounded and there was no damage caused to the facility.July 2, 2019: A new Houthi attack on Abha airport wounds nine civilians, the coalition says."The terrorist attack on Abha airport ... led to the injury of nine civilians, including eight Saudi citizens and one carrying an Indian passport," the military coalition said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.The Houthis say they "launched a wide operation aimed at warplanes at Abha international airport" with drones, according to Al Masirah TV.August 1, 2019: Houthi rebels say they fired a long-range missile at the port city of Dammam in Saudi Arabia, hundreds of kilometres away from Yemen.August 5, 2019: Houthi forces launch drone attacks on Saudi Arabia's King Khalid Airbase and Abha and Najran airports, according to a spokesman for the group.The spokesman says the attack on Abha airport "hit its targets" and air traffic was disrupted at both Abha and Najran.However, the coalition says the drones were intercepted and downed.Gas fields targetedAugust 17, 2019: A drone attack claimed by the Houthis sparks a fire in a remote oil and gas field in eastern Saudi Arabia.A Houthi military spokesman says the group targeted the Shaybah oilfield with 10 drones, calling it the "biggest attack in the depths" of the kingdom.Saudi Aramco says the attack caused no casualties or disruption to production.August 25, 2019: The Houthis say they fired 10 Badr-1 ballistic missiles at Jizan airport, killing and wounding dozens.The coalition says it intercepted and destroyed at least six ballistic missiles fired by the group targeting civilians in Jizan, in the southwest of the kingdom. It gives no details about casualties or damage.August 26, 2019: Houthi rebels claim to have attacked a military target in Riyadh.According to a spokesman for the rebels, the attack was carried out with an armed drone.Saudi Arabia denies there was an attack by the Houthis.September 10, 2019: The coalition forces intercept a drone over Yemen's Saada province, Saudi Press Agency reports.September 14, 2019: Drone attacks claimed by the Houthis cause fires at two major oil facilities run by Saudi Aramco.Citing an spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, the official Saudi Press Agency says the blazes at the facilities in Abqaiq - home to the company's largest oil processing plant - and Khurais were under control.SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS(4) Bloomberg Editorial Board calls for attack on Iranhttps://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-09-15/attack-on-saudi-aramco-oil-facilities-needs-global-response{Bloomberg} Editorial BoardAttack on Saudi Arabia Demands a United Response A strike on its oil and gas infrastructure is an assault on the world economy.By Editorial BoardSeptember 15, 2019, 11:47 AM EDTThe attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas facilities in Abqaiq, which has suspended half of the kingdom’s processing — corresponding to 6% of world supply — is a blow to one of the main arteries of the global economy. The Trump administration should use the United Nations General Assembly this week in New York to marshal a global response.Responsibility for the attacks has been claimed by the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who say they used a swarm of drones to inflict great damage. But there’s also suspicion that Shiite militias in Iraq were the culprits, and that they used cruise missiles.In geopolitical terms, it might not make much difference: The Houthis and Iraq’s militias are both proxies for Iran, which supplies them with money and materiel, including weapons capable of striking deep into Saudi territory. The Islamic Republic denies any role in the attacks, but it has a long history of using proxies and cutouts to attack its regional rivals. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has put the blame squarely on Iran, adding that there "is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen."The Trump administration should act swiftly to present proof of Iran’s culpability before the international community, and press for a unified response, especially from the other major world powers: China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain.These nations were, along with the U.S., signatories to the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. They have tended to be sympathetic toward the Islamic Republic since President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to abrogate that deal last summer. They have indulged Iran’s recent attacks on shipping in the Persian Gulf, and its decision to accelerate enrichment of uranium.However much they disapprove of the Trump administration’s policies, these countries need to recognize that a regime that willfully endangers the global economy deserves no sympathy. In word and deed, they should put Tehran on notice that its behavior will no longer be tolerated.The General Assembly this week provides the perfect platform from which to do this. A resolution from the Security Council condemning Iran’s actions would be a good start. The other signatories should also reimpose economic sanctions on the regime, and be prepared to join a U.S.-led naval force protecting the Persian Gulf.In the days preceding the annual UN gathering, President Trump seemed of a mind to soften his posture on Iran, even considering easing some sanctions in order to facilitate a meeting in New York with President Hassan Rouhani. It seems the Iranians have acted in manifestly bad faith, rejecting several offers of negotiations. The attacks on Abqaiq — and by extension, on the global economy — should clarify Trump’s thinking. This is the moment to rally the international community to deal with the threat from Iran.To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg Opinion’s editorials: David Shipley at davidshipley@bloomberg.net .(5) Economist: Rebel group in Yemen claims responsibilityhttps://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2019/09/15/drone-attacks-cut-saudi-arabias-oil-output-by-halfOil roiledDrone attacks cut Saudi Arabia’s oil output by halfA rebel group in Yemen claims responsibilityMiddle East and AfricaSep 15th 2019THE ARTERIES through which oil flows from Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest exporter, to consumers across the world have always been the most tempting of targets. Sever them—the country’s long pipelines, pumping stations, storage tanks and great refineries—and it is not just the kingdom that bleeds, but the global economy. Others have tried, but failed. In 2006 Al-Qaeda’s suicide bombers staged an attack on Abqaiq, the world’s largest oil-processing facility, in eastern Saudi Arabia. They were stopped by guards. Now the Houthis, a Shia rebel group from the north of Yemen that is backed by Iran, have apparently succeeded in striking a humiliating blow against the Saudis and their Western backers.On September 14th drones and missiles launched by the group struck the Abqaiq plant and Khurais oil field, starting huge fires. Saudi Aramco, the kingdom’s state-owned oil company, said that it had suspended production of 5.7m barrels of crude oil. That is equivalent to roughly 60% of the kingdom’s output and 6% of the world’s oil production. The price of Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose by more than 10% in the early hours of trading on September 16th. Some analysts expect oil prices to spike further if Saudi oil production is not restored soon. Aramco said it would give an update on the extent of the damage in about 48 hours, but a source told Reuters, a news agency, that repairs would take "weeks, not days".The attacks risk inflaming already tense relations within the Persian Gulf and between Iran and America. The first claims of responsibility for the attack came from the Houthis. The group has both means and motive. It is fighting a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and has repeatedly used drones and ballistic missiles to hit airports, military bases and other targets in Saudi Arabia. Since last year, according to United Nations investigators, the Houthis have fielded drones with a range up to 1,500km (930 miles), enough to reach Abqaiq and Khurais. A chunk of debris from the latest attack resembles the fuselage of the Quds-1, a missile used by the Houthis.American officials, however, suggest that the attack originated not in Yemen but in Iraq, and was the work of an Iranian-backed militia. Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, said that "Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply." The administration made a similar claim in May after drones hit a major pipeline that carries oil across the width of Saudi Arabia. So far, though, America has offered no evidence to support either assertion.For Saudi Arabia the origin of the attack is almost immaterial. It traces this attack, like previous ones, to its arch-nemesis Iran, which supplies money and weapons to the Houthis and other regional militias. The missiles used to hit Aramco’s facilities were almost certainly based on Iranian models.The Saudis have thus been enthusiastic backers of Donald Trump’s "maximum pressure" campaign, which was meant, among other things, to strong-arm Iran into ending such support. Last year the president withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and imposed punishing sanctions on its economy. Iranian oil exports have shrivelled from 2.8m barrels a day to less than 1m. Iran has begun to hit back. It has breached some of the deal’s limits on its nuclear programme, sabotaged and seized oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, and detained Western visitors as hostages.Lately, though, Mr Trump has flirted with a less confrontational approach. He offered to meet Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, for talks; there was idle chatter about a meeting on the sidelines of the UN general assembly later this month, though objections from Iranian hardliners make that unlikely. More confusingly, Mr Trump seems to back a French proposal to offer Iran a $15bn "credit line" that would help it cope with his own oil sanctions. Maximum pressure has become maximally puzzling.The Aramco attack may yet swing Mr Trump back to his earlier, hawkish stance, particularly if it drives up oil prices. But his options are limited. Iran’s battered economy has few targets left on which to impose sanctions. A few hawks in Washington, like Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator, have talked of a military response. Mr Trump ordered air strikes on Iran in June, after it shot down an American drone, but cancelled them at the last minute after deciding they were disproportionate. A president reluctant to entangle America in military conflict in the Middle East may find his choices are to do just that—or do nothing.If he opts for the latter, that will deepen a sense of growing unease in Riyadh. Frequent Houthi attacks have revealed troubling gaps in Saudi air defences, none more so than this weekend’s. Saudi Arabia’s closest ally, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is withdrawing most of its troops from Yemen, where the two have profound disagreements over tactics and strategy in a war that has reached a stalemate. The UAE has also taken a less hostile stance toward Iran, pointedly refusing to blame it for sabotaging four tankers in Emirati waters.Moreover, the attacks come at a sensitive time for the oil markets in general and for Aramco in particular, which is preparing to list a portion of its shares in what is expected to be the largest initial public offering ever. In preparation for its listing, Saudi Arabia has been keen to show both that it can support the oil price and that it can produce crude reliably, despite mounting security threats. Recent events reveal the limits of its ability to do either.The oil price has been particularly volatile in the past year. It has alternately jumped and slid as American sanctions on Venezuelan and Iranian oil stoked fears that demand might exceed supply and anxiety about slowing economic growth fuelled concerns of sinking demand. Throughout Saudi Arabia has led efforts to stabilise prices. In December the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other allies, including Russia, announced that they would cut production by 1.2m barrels a day. Saudi Arabia has regularly curbed output by more than it promised, in an effort to support the oil price as other OPEC members, such as Iraq and Nigeria, declined to depress production. These efforts have undoubtedly kept the oil price from plunging as far as it might have. Even so the price of Brent crude on September 13th, before the weekend’s attacks, was $60, nearly 20% below the level in late April.For oil markets, the crucial questions now are how quickly Saudi Arabia can resume production and whether the attacks spur a broader military confrontation. The risks of the latter are growing. For months officials in the Gulf have warned that Saudi Arabia would eventually retaliate against Iran for the constant drone and missile attacks from Yemen. Until now it has been content to let Mr Trump put pressure on Iran. If, however, Saudi Arabia feels that Mr Trump cannot be relied on to ensure its security, then Muhammad bin Salman, the brash and reckless Saudi crown prince, may feel compelled to act on his own.Updated: This article was updated at 05.30 GMT on September 16th 2019, to reflect movements in the oil markets.