Potential for conflict over Saudi oil strikes hangs over UN General Assembly

The UN General Assembly opens today in New York amid a serious escalation of Gulf after Saturday’s attacks on oil

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Photo: Planet Labs Inc/AP

The UN General Assembly opens today in New York amid a serious escalation of Gulf after Saturday’s attacks on oil processing facilities in the Saudi towns of Abqaiq and Khurais.

The drone strikes against the Abqaiq processing facility took out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil processing capabilities—equivalent to 7% of daily global oil output. Officials in the kingdom say the plants are likely to take ‘weeks not days’ to bring back online.

While Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for the attack, the US insists the group lacks such capabilities, instead accusing Iran or its proxies in Iraq for perpetrating the devastating strike. President Trump has not yet levelled a direct accusation against Tehran but says the US military is ‘locked and loaded’ in response. The attack is largely thought to be in retaliation for crippling US sanctions.

In response to the attacks, Riyadh could re-escalate its campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen in the hopes of squashing Tehran’s influence in the country. For its part, Washington might conduct limited retaliatory strikes against Iranian military interests in the Gulf.

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