Published: Sat, May 18, 2019

Saudi State Newspaper Urges U.S. 'Surgical Strikes' to 'Bomb Iran'

Saudi State Newspaper Urges U.S. 'Surgical Strikes' to 'Bomb Iran'

Drone attacks on pipelines in Saudi Arabia and the mysterious alleged sabotage of tankers this week sent pulses racing, but a phony war in the Persian Gulf failed to trigger a feared triple-digit surge in crude prices.

"The time has come for Iran not only to curb its nuclear weapon ambitions - again in the world's interest - but also for the world to ensure that they do not have the means to support their terror networks across the region".

The official from state oil giant Aramco told AFP that the East West Pipeline "is fully operational".

Saudi deputy defence minister Khalid Bin Salman tweeted on Thursday that that attack showed that the Houthi militias "are merely a tool that Iran's regime uses to implement its expansionist agenda in the region".

Early Thursday, residents in Yemen's capital of Sana'a said a wave of airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition hit rebel Houthi targets, as well as a residential house in the city.

Thursday's airstrikes came after Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who control the capital, launched a drone attack Tuesday on a critical oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia, Tehran's biggest rival in the region.

There are some suggestions, then, that Iran is aiming to disrupt, or at least show it is capable of disrupting, the global oil markets through these attacks.

Tehran has called the USA military presence "a target" rather than a threat, and said it would not allow its oil exports to be halted.

Spokesmen for two Iran-backed paramilitary organisations in Iraq denied that they had plans to strike and instead said the discussion of Iranian threats was "psychological warfare" from the US. "We have exercised maximum restraints", he said. He also said that while his country would not negotiate with the United States, Iran is not seeking war.

The recent days has ordered the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group to the Gulf region, plus four B-52 bombers.

Tensions have been rising in the Gulf since the USA stopped granting waivers to buyers of Iranian oil and slapped crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic after President Donald Trump pulled the USA out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Despite attempts to calm the rhetoric about a potential conflict, on Wednesday, the US State Department ordered all "non-emergency US government employees" to leave Iraq; German and Dutch armed forces suspended training operations in Iraq. The U.S. Consulate in Basra has been closed since September following a rocket attack blamed on Iranian-backed militias.

A senior British officer in the US -backed coalition fighting ISIS appeared to push back against the USA claims, telling reporters earlier in the week that there had been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria. Maj.

Late Wednesday, Anwar Gargash, the UAE minister of foreign affairs, said the Saudi-led coalition would "retaliate hard" for attacks on civilian targets, without elaborating. His comments exposed worldwide skepticism over the U.S. military buildup.

It was revealed today that two Saudi tankers - one due to pick up oil destined for America - were left with "significant damage" after being sabotaged off the UAE on Sunday. That includes those working at the U.S. Consulate in Irbil.

At the root of the recent spike in Persian Gulf tensions appears to be Trump's decision a year ago to pull the US from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, embarking on a maximalist sanctions campaign against Tehran to cripple the country's economy.

Though Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, scientists say the time needed to reach the 90 per cent threshold for weapons-grade uranium is halved once uranium is enriched to around 20 per cent. The other ships were a Norwegian-registered oil products tanker and a UAE-flagged bunker barge.

In terms of next steps, Al Jazeera reported Thursday that the Qatari foreign minister is holding talks in Tehran to attempt to defuse tensions.

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