Saudi attacks reciprocal response by Yemen rebels: Iran

ANKARA / BAGHDAD: An attack on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil facilities was a reciprocal measure by Yemeni people to assaults on this country, said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday, hours after a Saudi-led coalition said the attacks were carried out with Iranian weapons.

“Yemeni people are exercising their legitimate right of defence… the attacks were a reciprocal response to aggression against Yemen for years,” Rouhani told a joint news conference with his Russian and Turkish counterparts.

The Iran-aligned Houthi group that controls Yemen’s capital said they carried out the attacks with 10 drones, but American media have reported that US officials had satellite images showing the attacks — possibly with drones and cruise missiles — had come from the north or northwest, rather than Yemen.

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The Saudi-led coalition has said its preliminary probe had found Houthi rebels were not responsible, while squarely pointing the finger at Iran for providing the weapons used in the attacks. It, however, added it was still investigating where the strikes had originated.

Earlier in the day, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said he was “extremely concerned” about escalating tensions following strikes on Saudi oil facilities at the weekend, accusing Iran of destabilising the region.

Speaking to AFP in Baghdad, Stoltenberg’s comments were his first on the strikes on two major Saudi oil facilities.

“We call on all parties to prevent any such attacks occurring again because that can have negative consequences for the whole region, and we are also extremely concerned about a risk of escalation,” the secretary general said.

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Stoltenberg, who said the alliance “strongly condemned” the attacks because of the destabilising effect on oil supplies, also had a message for Iraq’s neighbour, Iran.

“We are concerned about what we see, especially from Iran. Iran is supporting different terrorist groups and being responsible for destabilising the whole region,” he charged.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to sell Saudi Arabia its missile defence systems in the wake of the attack on its oil facilities.

“We are ready to help Saudi Arabia so that she can protect her territory.

“She can do so in the same way that Iran has already done in buying the S-300 Russian missile system and the same way that Turkey has already done in buying the S-400 Russian missile system,” Putin said at a press conference in Ankara, alongside the Turkish and Iranian leaders.

Pakistan’s energy supply is also at a risk due to mounted tensions in Middle East and South Asia

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