Iran's media and government officials believe a military conflict is not imminent between the United States and Iran after drone attacks directed at Saudi Arabian oil facilities caused widespread damage and a disruption in world oil output.
Yemen's Houthi rebels took credit for the attack on the Abqaiq oil-processing facility in the Khurais oilfield. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, backed by the United States, have sided against the Houthis in Yemen’s civil war, which began in 2015. US officials claim the Houthis are supported by Iran — a claim Iranian officials publicly deny even as they continue to voice support for the group.
US President Donald Trump tweeted Sept. 16 that “we know the culprit” behind the attack on the oil facilities, adding that the United States is “locked and loaded.” Trump said the United States was awaiting “verification” from Saudi Arabia. Perhaps in an effort to calm oil markets, Trump followed up with another tweet Sept. 16 that the United States is an exporter of oil and “we don’t need Middle Eastern oil,” nevertheless adding that the United States “will help our allies.”
Iran has denied involvement in the attack on the oil facilities. Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said, “[For] five years [now] Yemen has been in a bloody war, and the Saudi coalition, with support from Western countries, has committed widespread crimes against the people of Yemen.” Mousavi added, “It’s natural that the people of Yemen and its military would show a reaction.”
Mousavi added, “The Islamic Republic has stated that it will defend the people of Yemen and their rights, but to attribute these defensive actions (drone attacks) to Iran is a big lie.” He said Western countries make such accusations against Iran in order for countries like Saudi Arabia, which depends on the United States militarily, to feel secure, adding that such countries have the backing of the United States.
Trump did not buy the Iranian denial, tweeting that Iran shot down an American drone it said was in their airspace but adding this was a “very big lie.” He continued, “Now they’re saying they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see.”
Despite the increase in tensions, Iranian media and government officials do not believe a military confrontation with the United States is imminent. Rather, most officials believe Washington has more cynical objectives in ratcheting up tensions with Tehran. An article in Javan online, which is close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, wrote, “America is not after its threatening goals against Iran, but it is trying to secure at least three economic goals: increasing its influence on world oil markets, selling more weapons to Saudi Arabia with the excuse of ensuring its security, and finally, decreasing the value of Aramco — which Saudi Arabia would like to take public.”
Conservative Bultan News published an article by an analyst on US affairs who wrote that “Trump is not really looking for military conflict with Iran.” The analyst argued that Trump’s decision to put the onus on Saudi Arabia to determine the culprit suggests it is more about pressuring Saudi Arabia to take responsibility for a military conflict with Iran, and Saudi Arabia knows “the cost of such a war will be far more than the damages to oil refineries.”