Two unnamed U.S. officials told reporters on Sunday that there was “no doubt” Iran was behind Saturday’s attacks on two key oil facilities inside Saudi Arabia. The officials said the Houthis of Yemen, who claimed responsibility, could not have pulled it off because of the scope and precision of the attacks. Despite the official’s claims, the Saudi oil facilities that were attacked are in range of the Houthi’s drones.
One official said, “The Houthis have never struck this far afield in the past because we don’t think that they have that capability. And the Houthis have never struck in this precise and coordinated fashion before.”
The Abqaiq oil facility that was struck over the weekend lies just over 730 miles from the Houthi-controlled city of Sa’dah. The second target, the Khurais oil facility, is just over 640 miles from Sa’dah. These locations are certainly within range of the Houthi’s drones, which UN investigators believe to be over 900 miles.
The Houthis have been launching similar attacks over the past few months on Saudi oil infrastructure. In August, they launched a successful drone strike on the Shaybah oil field, which is over 750 miles from Sa’dah.
Sa’dah is not necessarily where these attacks are launched from, it is just one of the more northern cities the Houthis control. There is territory further east under Houthi control that is closer to all of these targets.
As far as the precision of the attacks, the Houthis demonstrated the precision of their drones in an attack on a military parade inside Yemen back in January. The Houthis specifically targeted and hit a platform where high-ranking military officers were sitting. The attack killed six soldiers and wounded several senior officers.
Saudi Arabia said on Monday that the attacks were done with Iranian weapons and were not launched from Yemen. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a similar claim in a tweet on Saturday when he said, “There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”
A congressional source told NBC that there is a bipartisan consensus in Washington that the attacks came from Iran. “This attack had a level of sophistication we have not seen before,” the source said. “You will not see Democrats pushing back on the idea that Iran was behind it.” NBC also reported that three unnamed U.S. officials said there was compelling evidence showing the origin of the attacks.
Senator Christopher Coons (D-Del.) appeared on Fox & Friends Monday morning to discuss the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities. “This may well be the thing that calls for military action against Iran if that’s what the intelligence supports,” Coons said. The Senator also made the claim that the Houthis don’t have the “sort of advanced drones that carried out” the attack.
No evidence has been presented to the public by the Saudis or any U.S. officials to confirm the attacks did not originate from Yemen. On Monday, Houthi military spokesman Yayha Sarea said oil facilities in Saudi Arabia are a still a target and can be attacked at “any moment.” Sarea called on Saudi Arabia to stop its “aggression and blockade” on Yemen.