WASHINGTON – Tensions between the U.S and Iran remain high in the aftermath of Saturday morning’s missile and drone attacks on a Saudi Arabian oil processing plant.
Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attacks. The Houthis are fighting an insurgency against Saudi-led forces in Yemen with Iranian assistance.
Iran has denied any involvement in the Saudi oil attacks. However, U.S. and Saudi officials have said they suspect that the attacks were launched from Iranian territory.
President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday night that the U.S. is “locked and loaded depending on verification” of the responsible actor.
Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2019
His remark has caused many in the media and elected office to believe that the U.S. is considering a military response. However, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, said Monday that Trump’s remark was not a reference to military action. Short said the remark was instead a reference to security derived from increased American energy independence.
So, has the the threat of war faded?
TMN asked lawmakers on Capitol Hill to assess the situation.
“I would say it [war] is more likely based on the president’s ill-advised tweet Sunday about being locked and loaded to do what the Saudis want him to do,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va) said Tuesday.
He added: “He [Trump] started walking that back yesterday, but I worry about that. I don’t think there’s any circumstance under which the United States should go to war to protect Saudi oil.”
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) echoed similar sentiments.
“My hope is that this president and the rest of my colleagues will be very careful to avoid another conflict in the Middle East.”
Both Kaine and Heinrich are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah.), who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the Saudis are likely to respond to the attacks.
“I think it’s likely that there will be a response from the Saudis, but I don’t think it would be appropriate for our military to become engaged kinetically.”
Romney added: “We can the support the Saudis in their effort in a non-kinetic manner.”
The target of the drone and missile attacks was Saudi Aramco’s Khurais oil field in Buqyaq. It is the largest oil processing plant in the world. An estimated 5.7 billion barrels of crude oil production was lost in the attacks. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil producer.