Saudis Call on US to Attack Iran

May 18th, 2019 - by Jason Ditz /

Key Saudi Paper Urges US to Attack Iran

Jason Ditz /

 (May 16, 2019) — The Arab News, a major English-language Saudi Arabian newspaper owned by Saudi Prince Turki bin Salman (brother of crown prince Mohamed bin Salman) has long been treated as virtually an official government mouthpiece. This is becoming particularly important Thursday, as the front page of the paper advocated that the United States attack Iran.

The editorial, ominously titled “Iran must not go unpunished” begins with the declaration that “nobody wants war,” and then argues throughout about how vital it is that the US launch such a war, even if it is just a limited war involving US missile strikes.

They argue that President Trump has already set a precedent for this sort of war in Syria, and present a US attack as “retaliation” against Iranian threats. Those threats are being publicly scoffed at across Europe, and seemingly in other countries where the government doesn’t believe it has a vested interest in seeing the US attack a regional rival.

As this is going on in the Saudi press, Saudi government officials are taking this week’s drone attack, from Yemen’s Houthi movement, and trying to pin the entire thing on Iran, claiming that it proves Iran are “terrorists” and are carrying out an expansionist agenda.

Saudi officials have tried to tie the Houthi movement to Iran from the war’s beginning. Initially, it was meant to justify attacking the Houthis on the grounds that it would hurt Iran. Now, however, officials are hoping it swings both ways, and that years of hostility fostered by the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen can be parlayed into more direct hostilities with Iran.

Iran Denies Involvement in Houthi Drone Strikes on Saudi Oil Installations

Iran sees Trump’s call for talks as ‘dishonest’ while threatening war

Jason Ditz /

 (May 17, 2019) — Saudi calls for the US to attack Iran are built at least in part on the idea of getting revenge for Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthi movement attacking Saudi oil pumping stations. The Saudis have claimed Iran “ordered” the attack, but Iranian officials say there was no such order, and that they had nothing to do with it.

That’s entirely probable. Since the Saudi invasion of Yemen, the Houthis have retaliated whenever possible Saudi officials have always overstated Houthi ties to Iran, trying to justify the invasion, but in reality, there is limited evidence Iran has more than nominal ties to the Houthis, and it’s unlikely they could just “order” attacks like this.

This all comes with the US threatening to attack Iran as it is, and while President Trump is still calling for talks, the focus seems to be on threats, not diplomacy. Iranian officials presented the Trump offers for talks as “dishonest,” saying that the offer comes with the US holding a gun at Iran.

As all of this is happening, the US is also threatening sanctions after an Iranian tanker unloaded fuel oil to the Chinese city of Zhoushan. The US claims Iran is not allowed to sell oil to anyone, though neither Iran nor China recognize the idea that the US has any say over it.

US Urging Talks While ‘Holding Gun’ at Iran


 DUBAI (May 17, 2019) – A senior Iranian military official has accused US President Donald Trump of dishonesty, saying Washington is calling for talks while “holding a gun” at Tehran, the semi-official news agency Mehr reported on Friday.

Trump has said publicly he wants to pursue a diplomatic route with Iran after withdrawing the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, moving to cut off all Iranian oil exports this month while beefing up the US Navy and Air Force presence in the Gulf.

Iran has dismissed the US military build up as “psychological warfare” designed to intimidate it, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said this week that Tehran would not negotiate with the United States on another nuclear deal and such talks would be “poison”.

“The actions of American leaders in exerting pressure and launching sanctions … while speaking of talks, is like holding a gun at someone and asking for friendship and negotiations,” Mehr quoted Rasoul Sanai-Rad, a political deputy of the armed forces command, as saying.

“The behavior of American leaders is a political game which consists of threats and pressure while showing a willingness to negotiate in order to present a peaceful image of themselves and fool public opinion,” Sanai-Rad said.

Eyeing Iran, US Official Says All Alleged Sanctions Breaches Taken Seriously

Timothy Gardner / Reuters

WASHINGTON (May 17, 2019) — The United States takes all alleged sanctions violations seriously and will take action as appropriate, a State Department spokesman said on Friday, responding to a question about a tanker unloading Iranian fuel oil at a Chinese port.

Reuters on Thursday reported that a tanker carrying nearly 130,000 tonnes of Iranian fuel oil had unloaded its cargo into storage tanks near the Chinese city of Zhoushan.

“The United States takes all alleged sanctionable activities seriously and will take action as appropriate. We are committed to enforcing our sanctions, especially those related to Iran’s oil and petrochemicals sectors,” a State Department spokesman said in an emailed response.

He said the department was aware of the specific report about the tanker but declined to comment on it.

US President Donald Trump’s administration has stepped up moves to choke off Iran’s oil exports by scrapping waivers it had granted to big buyers of the country’s crude oil, including China.

Refined products like fuel oil, mainly used to power ship engines and generate electricity, were not covered by the temporary waivers, granted on the sanctions reintroduced in November 2018.

Tensions have escalated in recent days, with growing concerns about a potential US-Iran conflict. Earlier this week the United States pulled some diplomatic staff from its embassy in Baghdad following weekend attacks on four oil tankers in the Gulf.

Trump believes the economic pressure will force Tehran to accept tougher curbs on its nuclear and missile programs and on its support for proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. He has said publicly he wants to pursue diplomacy after quitting the deal and moving to cut all Iranian oil exports

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