Saudi oil pipeline booster stations targeted by drone attacks

Saudi Says Two of Its Oil Tankers ‘Sabotaged,’ Iran Seeks Clarification

Oil prices rise after Middle East tanker attacks

Saudi Arabia says oil infrastructure sites belonging to the country's state-run oil company Aramco have been targeted and that at least one of the attacks was carried out by drone strikes.

Yemen's Houthi rebels appeared to claim responsibility for the attack, announcing that seven of their "aircrafts" - known to be drones - had targeted vital installations in Saudi Arabia via their news outlet Al-Masirah TV.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in the Yemen war to bolster the internationally recognized government's efforts against the Houthis in March 2015.

"Four commercial ships were subjected to sabotage operations today, 12 May, near UAE territorial waters in the Gulf of Oman, east of Fujairah", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a statement carried by state news agency WAM. That too caused little damage, yet can be seen as a clear threat to Saudi Arabia's ability to export oil, via a facility outside of the Strait of Hormuz.

The attacks came after the United States deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group, an amphibious assault vessel, a Patriot missile battery and B-52 bombers, triggering fears of a possible military confrontation.

His comments resonate with those of the head of the Revolutionary Guard's air force Amir Ali Hajizadeh who called the move a "serious threat" and said that if the U.S. chose to make a move, Iran would be forced to retaliate.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday that neither the United States nor Iran want war, adding that Iraq is in contact with both, state news agency INA reported.

The U.S. has warned ships that "Iran or its proxies" could be targeting maritime traffic in the region, and America has moved additional ships and aircraft into the region.

The Associated Press quoted one unnamed USA official as saying either Iran or its allies had used explosives to blow holes in the ships, according to a US military assessment. The pipeline mainly transports crude from the kingdom's eastern fields to the port of Yanbu, which lies north of Bab al-Mandeb. Still, it has yet to be established officially whether Iran would risk tipping the situation further into violence indeed. Later, Minister al-Falih said that two out of four ships that had been subjected to sabotage were Saudi oil tankers.

And in NY, the United Nations called on all sides to "exercise restraint for the sake of regional peace".

A fifth of global oil consumption passes through the Strait of Hormuz from Middle East crude producers to global markets.

Washington reimposed sanctions on Iran in November after pulling out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and world powers previous year.

The actions mark a serious threat to global energy security - as the spike in oil prices on Tuesday illustrated.

Saudi Arabia, Iran's regional arch-rival, condemned "acts of sabotage" and a "criminal act".

Tensions have risen since Trump withdrew America from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and restored US sanctions that have pushed Iran's economy into crisis.

Major General Hossein Salami, appointed head of the Guards last month, told parliament on Sunday the United States had started a psychological war in the region, the parliamentary spokesman said.

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