David Jackson, USA TODAY
Published 8:16 a.m. ET Sept. 16, 2019 | Updated 9:27 a.m. ET Sept. 16, 2019
Drones claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked the world’s largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia and a major oilfield operated by Saudi Aramco early Saturday, sparking a huge fire at a processor crucial to global energy supplies. (Sept. 14)
WASHINGTON – A day after appearing to threaten military action against Iran over the attack on Saudi Arabia oil facilities, President Donald Trump struck a more neutral tone early Monday by saying the United States does not need Middle East oil production.
“Because we have done so well with Energy over the last few years (thank you, Mr. President!), we are a net Energy Exporter, & now the Number One Energy Producer in the World,” Trump said. “We don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas, & in fact have very few tankers there, but will help our Allies!”
In another tweet, Trump referred to an incident this year in which Iran shot down a US drone it said had invaded its airspace.
“They stuck strongly to that story knowing that it was a very big lie,” Trump said. “Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?”
In June, Trump ordered a military strike on Iran, but changed his mind at the last minute and said the loss of Iranian lives would not have been proportionate to the destruction of an American drone.
Iran insisted the drone invaded its air space, and has accused the U.S. is trying to provoke hostilities.
After meeting with aides Sunday, Trump indicated that “help” to Saudi Arabia could include some kind of military action, claiming the U.S. is “locked and loaded” after the attack on Saudi oil supplies.
While he did not name Iran specifically, Trump tweeted late Sunday that “there is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”
Because we have done so well with Energy over the last few years (thank you, Mr. President!), we are a net Energy Exporter, & now the Number One Energy Producer in the World. We don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas, & in fact have very few tankers there, but will help our Allies!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 16, 2019
Trump aides, meanwhile, have pointed the finger directly at Iran.
Over the weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “we call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression.”
Iran, meanwhile, denies involvement in the Saudi attack and said it is prepared to defend itself with “full-fledged war.”
As Trump and his administration formulate a response, Pompeo was spotted at the White House on Sunday, as was Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
With global oil prices expected to spike upward, Trump said Sunday he may tap the strategic oil reserve to stabilize the market.
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