Bomb-laden drones used to attack Saudi oil stations as U.S. contemplates deploying 120,000 troops to Gulf to counter Iran

By Jon Dougherty

As mystery continues to shroud the “sabotage attacks” against a pair of Saudi Arabian oil tankers on Monday, someone used bomb-laden drones to attack Saudi oil stations belonging to state-owned Aramco on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih said that two oil pumping stations for the East-West pipeline were hit by explosive-laden drones. He called the attack “an act of terrorism” targeting global oil supplies, Gulf News reported.

Falih condemned the attacks in a statement saying: “The latest acts of terrorism and sabotage in the Arabian Gulf… not only target the Kingdom but also the security of oil supplies to the world and the global economy.

“These attacks prove again that it is important for us to face terrorist entities, including the Houthi militias in Yemen that are backed by Iran,” he said.

Gulf News noted further:

Falih said Saudi oil output and exports for crude and refined products were continuing without disruption, but that the state oil giant Aramco had halted oil pumping in the pipeline while the damage was evaluated and the stations were repaired, according to a statement carried by the state news agency SPA.

The 1,200-kilometre pipeline carries crude from Saudi Arabia’s main eastern oil fields to the Red Sea port city of Yanbu in the west.

The pumping stations targeted lie west of the capital Riyadh, at Dawadmi and Afeef.

No one has yet taken responsibility for the attacks, which come as other reports note the Pentagon is preparing to deploy as many as 120,000 U.S. troops to the Gulf region to counter Iranian aggression should Tehran attack American forces already in the region, The New York Times reports.

The paper said that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan laid out the plan to top national security officials last week. The Sun adds:

The top secret plans are said to spell out how a vast land, air and sea force would be sent to America’s regional allies bordering Iran should its foe attack US forces.

President Trump’s hard-line national security adviser John Bolton is said to have ordered the heavily beefed-up military plans in response to growing tensions in the region.

The news site added that it’s not clear POTUS Trump would order such a force into the region, though clearly he would if the United States were attacked.

On Monday, the president sounded a cautionary tone with Iran but was clear the U.S. was prepared to act if attacked.

“We’ll see what happens with Iran,” he said. “If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake.”

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The Pentagon has ordered the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier battle group to the Gulf region, along with Patriot missile batteries and an amphibious assault group, along with B-52 bombers.

Also Monday, Iran threatened to attack Israel in response to any U.S. attack.

Iranian Parliament’s vice-speaker Ali Motahhari said: “The US military forces’ deployment in the Persian Gulf is more of the nature of psychological warfare. They are not ready for a war - especially when Israel is within our range.”

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