Iran ‘preparing follow-up attack’

 

Iran is preparing a follow-up strike to the missile and drone attack that slammed Saudi Arabia's oil industry last weekend, Houthi militants have warned.

Houthi militants in Yemen have told Saudi and US officials they are raising the alarm about a possible new attack after they were pressed by Iran to play a role in it, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Houthi claims have long been met with scepticism by Western officials, but Saudi Arabia is beefing up its security as a precautionary measure. Officials fear a new potential attack could strike the oil industry or civilian airports, including the capital of Riyadh.

Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam denied the group had delivered any warning to foreign diplomats about potential Iranian attacks.

The warning comes as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani calls on Western powers to leave the security of the Persian Gulf to regional nations led by Tehran.

Mr Rouhani criticised a new US-led coalition patrolling the region's waterways, as nationwide parades on Sunday showcased the Islamic Republic's military arsenal.

He separately promised to unveil a regional peace plan at this week's upcoming high-level meetings at the United Nations, which comes amid heightened tensions over the oil attacks.

The US alleges Iran carried out the September 14 oil attacks that caused oil prices to rise by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War.

While Yemen's Iranian-allied Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the assault, Saudi Arabia says it was "unquestionably sponsored by Iran".

For its part, Iran denies being responsible and has warned any retaliatory attack targeting it will result in an "all-out war".

The US maintains defence agreements across the Persian Gulf with allied Arab nations and has tens of thousands of troops stationed in the region. Since 1980, it has viewed the region as crucial to its national security, given its energy exports.

A fifth of all oil traded passes through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf.

The US plans to send additional troops to the region over the tensions.

HOW DID THIS ALL START?

On September 14, Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq plant and Khurais oilfield were attacked by air strikes.

These attacks marked the single worst sudden disruption to the oil market ever, leading to the interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels of the kingdom's crude oil.

It helped drive world oil prices up by 10 per cent on Monday - the fastest rise in over a decade.

Satellite images released by the US Government showed the sheer extent of the damage.

WHY TENSIONS ARE ON THE RISE

Over the past week, tensions have been building between the US and Saudi Arabia, and Iran.

Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen, which Saudi Arabia are at war with, claimed responsibility, saying drones were launched in the attack.

But Saudi Arabia has claimed the attack did not come from Yemen and said initial investigations show Iranian weapons were used. The kingdom has not yet said where the attack was launched or what kind of weapons were involved.

The US has made similar allegations, going so far as to say the attack may have been launched from Iran itself or nearby Iraq, where Iran has powerful proxy militias on the ground.

Iran is preparing a follow-up strike to the missile and drone attack that slammed Saudi Arabia’s oil industry last weekend, Houthi militants have warned.
Iran is preparing a follow-up strike to the missile and drone attack that slammed Saudi Arabia’s oil industry last weekend, Houthi militants have warned.

Iran has denied the charges, responding with fury to the accusation and going as far as to threaten US bases with missile strikes.

This show of force didn't come from nowhere; tensions between the US and Iran have been high for more than a year.

Last year in May, US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or "Iran deal", by which Tehran agreed to scrap its uranium and nuclear-building facilities in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

Mr Trump said it was a "horrible one-sided deal" that gave Iran too much power.

In June this year, Iran shot down a US military surveillance drone, destroying an expensive piece of equipment.

The US military responded, targeting Iran with a cyber attack that disrupted Iran's missile program, and Mr Trump traded insults with Iranian officials over the events.

Last week's feud is just the latest round of those ongoing tensions, but it could be the point that escalates to war.

- with AAP



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