Houthi rebels in Yemen have taken responsibility for the drone attacks that shut down one of Saudi Arabia’s major oil pipelines further ratcheting up Gulf tensions after the mysterious sabotage of several tankers.
Days after the United States deployed bombers and an assault ship to bolster an aircraft carrier in the region, Saudi Arabia said two pumping stations had been targeted Tuesday. The stations reportedly targeted lie west of Riyadh, at Dawadmi and Afeef.
They lie on the East West Pipeline, able to pump five million barrels of oil a day from the oil-rich eastern province to a Red Sea export terminal.
The announcement came hours after Yemen’s Houthi rebels said they had targeted vital installations in Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition against them.
Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Saudi Aramco had “temporarily shut down” the pipeline to “evaluate its condition” but added that oil production and exports had not been interrupted.
In a statement carried by the rebel-run Al-Masirah TV, the Houthis warned of other “unique operations… if the aggressors continue with their crimes and blockade”.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in the Yemen war to bolster the internationally-recognised government’s efforts against the Huthis in March 2015.
The reported pipeline attacks came after the UAE said four ships were damaged in “sabotage attacks” off the emirate of Fujairah, close to the Hormuz, on Sunday.
Washington and its Gulf allies stopped short of blaming Riyadh’s regional arch-rival Tehran for the sabotage, but US President Donald Trump warned Iran against doing anything to harm US interests.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hit back, saying the Islamic republic was “too great to be intimidated by anyone”.
The attacks came after the United States deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group, an amphibious assault vessel, a Patriot missile battery and B-52 bombers, triggering fears of a possible military confrontation.