Two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia were hit this weekend by a combination of drones and cruise missiles believed to have been launched from Iran.
The surprise attack suspended more than 50% of crude output from Saudi Arabia (5% of the global oil supply) and reduced daily output by 5.7 million barrels.
Saudi’s air defense systems were unable to block the attack because they were pointing south in anticipation of missiles coming from Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The Houthis immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but investigators say there is no evidence the projectiles came from that direction. Iran denies any involvement in the attack.
A US team in Saudi Arabia is studying the wreckage to learn more about the origin of the attack. Investigators say they expect to present a “very compelling forensic case” that Iran launched “a complex and coordinated attack.”
Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday said the US was “locked and loaded” in preparation to defends its allies in the Middle East, but lawmakers are calling for caution.
“Any kind of significant action should get the ‘okay’ of Congress,” said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “My worry here is that they will bumble into war, even if they don’t want one. They will bumble into it because they haven’t had a strategy.”
“I don’t think we need to be the protector of Saudi Arabia,” added Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit the kingdom this week to discuss the US response.
Author’s Note: The United States and Saudi Arabia are allies, but any response to Iran’s attack should be led by the Saudis.
Editor’s Update: It appears that the drones were launched from Iranian territory. The proof is mounting. Trump is traveling to Saudi Arabia to discuss possible responses.