After attacks on center of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, the US voiced concern about “genuine security risks” from Houthis and elsewhere in the area, and said it would look into boosting funding for Saudi defenses.
The US Embassy in Riyadh also stated that Washington is on the side of Saudi Arabia following of drone and missile attack on Sunday. one of these attacks was launched against a Saudi oil-exporting plant.
White House press secretary, referring to the escalating tensions against Saudi Arabia, said “We understand that they face genuine security threats from Yemen and others in the region…We will look for ways to improve support for Saudi Arabia’s ability to defend its territory against threats.”
Houthis, who claimed the attacks, made their offensive against an oil storage yard at Ras Tanura, which houses a refinery and the world’s largest offshore oil-loading plant. The Saudi Aramco residential compound in Dhahran was also targeted.
The attacks on Saudi oil installations were the most extreme after a central refining facility and two fields were targeted in September 2019, slashing production for a month and revealing the kingdom’s petroleum industry’s foibles. Yemen’s Houthi fighters claimed responsibility for the attack, while Saudi Arabia and the United States blamed Iran. Tehran strongly rejected any involvement in the attacks.
On Monday, Brent crude rose as much as 2.9 percent to $71.37 a barrel, the highest since January 2020, before reversing course. Last week’s OPEC meeting gave oil a boost, with ministers agreeing to keep supplies under tight control.
The attacks prompted a backlash in Yemen, where the coalition launched air strikes on the capital Sana’a, claiming to be attacking the Houthis. The war has already killed tens of thousands of civilians and led to the world’s harshest humanitarian crisis.
The assaults come while President Joe Biden is putting pressure on Riyadh over its human rights violations and the disastrous Yemen war. Joe Biden’s determination in ending hostility in Yemen was one of the first policies he put in practice after taking the office.
Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has led a military alliance against the Houthis in Yemen. Riyadh blamed Washington on Sunday saying that a recent US decision to de-designate the Houthis as terrorists had fueled the increase in attacks. This is the first time the kingdom uses a sharp tone against the US administration since Biden entered the White House. There seems to be a rise in tensions between the two countries as a result of policy gaps.
The six-year war in Yemen broke out when Saudi-led coalition attacked Sana’a and other cities in Yemen with the aim of destroying the Houthis. Observers also perceive the hostilities as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Biden also vowed in election campaigns to rejoin a multiparty nuclear deal with Iran, which Trump had withdrawn before implementing sanctions. However, the US and Iran are at odds about which government should take the first step.
Saudi Arabia was one of the main opponents of the revival of JCPOA asserting Iran’s ballistic program should also be included in the deal. Iran sharply rejected any re-negotiations on the deal saying the United States, the first violator party of the deal should turn back to commitment unconditioned.
The triangle of the three influential countries further complicated the condition. Biden’s decision on ending hostilities in Yemen might be affected by recent developments, while its decision on nuclear deal might resolve the Yemen enigma too. Saudi Arabia is on the defense mode, heaving no direct control on nuclear potential negotiations on the one side and Yemen war on the other. The Iranian edge of the triangle seems to be sharper.