Who attacked the Saudi refineries?

After the drone attacks on two oil refineries in Saudi Arabia, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has put the blame on Iran. Tehran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Riyadh also insists that Iran was behind the strikes. Commentators also speculate on who was responsible.

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Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Many indications that Iran is to blame

It's hard to imagine that the Houthi rebels would have been able to carry out the drone strike without help from others, says Helsingin Sanomat:

“There is no clear evidence of Iran's guilt, and Saudi Arabia admitted as much on Wednesday. But everything points to Iran having been involved in some way. Or the other way round: it would take convincing evidence to explain how the Houthi were capable of such a perfectly executed strike hundreds of miles from Yemen. ... There are still independent players in the world, and the United Nations announced on Wednesday that it was sending investigators to Saudi Arabia. But whether the Saudis and the US will wait for the results of this investigation is another matter entirely.”

Milliyet (TR) /

It all makes no sense

For the conservative, pro-government daily Milliyet the drone attacks have left many questions unanswered:

“The attacks have destabilised not only the oil markets but also the security balance. Above all in view of the fact that the US is the world's biggest arms seller and Saudi Arabia the world's biggest arms buyer. The radar equipment in the Saudis' US-made air defence system in the region failed to detect either the Houthi drones 1,000 kilometres away or the missiles which purportedly belonged to Iran. They must have been sleeping. ... That raises another question which is as confusing as the vulnerability of the defence system: could these bombs be part of a well-constructed set-up? Who was really behind these attacks?”

Ukrajinska Prawda (UA) /

A taste of catastrophes to come

lliya Kusa, an expert in international politics, draws conclusions from the drone attack in Ukrayinska Pravda:

“You can see how much war has changed in the new century. The war in Yemen will also take on a different quality. ... The Houthi rebels have gained access (not without Iranian support) to technologies that put them on an equal footing with the Saudi forces. A conflict with Iran is becoming increasingly likely. The drone attack also shows how costly and catastrophic a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran could be. If the Yemeni Houthi are capable of such devastating attacks, just think what a conflict between these two sides would look like.”

Ria Nowosti (RU) /

Russia might save the situation

Ria Novosti is curious to see whose support Saudi Arabia will seek:

“Naturally, the Americans can send their 6th fleet into the Strait of Hormuz and threaten to vent their anger against Tehran. But against the dozen relatively cheap drones that are currently causing the world economy a headache they are powerless. Even the billions of dollars that the Saudis have spent on US weapons can't solve the problem. Russia, on the other hand, does have something to offer Riyadh, proven by the success of its air defence system against drone strikes at the [Syrian] Khmeimim Air Base. The Saudis only need to ask Russia, and the same goes for Kuwait. And anyone who believes that a strategic weapons partner of the US would never engage in such a collaboration should ask Erdoğan.”

Novi list (HR) /

War not in Trump's interest

Despite all the sabre-rattling war would be a disaster for Trump, Novi list is convinced:

“After drones were shot down by both sides and following several attacks on tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, Trump had already ordered airstrikes on Iran, only to cancel them at the last minute. Although Trump is constantly threatening with war and his policy vis-à-vis Iran sometimes looks if he's only adding fuel to the fire, it's clear that for Trump a war with Iran just over a year before the presidential elections would be nothing short of a catastrophe. So it's in Trump's interest to calm the situation. Meanwhile Iran, which is groaning under the weight of US sanctions, perhaps thinks that right now it has nothing to lose from a further escalation.”

Yeni Şafak (TR) /

The Middle East will go up in flames

Now there's nothing stopping Iran and Saudi Arabia from attacking each other openly, the Islamic-conservative daily Yeni Şafak posits:

“This attack has turned the Yemeni war into a Saudi Arabian one. ... There's no mechanism that could stop the parties from going down this dangerous path, let alone pacify them. ... And just a step away from the current situation looms once again the spectre of war in Lebanon and Iraq. ... In this way the war will spread across the entire region. Of course, one can only speculate about which country will pay what price for this storm, but it's a fact that it will hit the very heart of Saudi Arabia.”

Index (HU) /

A risky game of poker

Tehran is provoking the US to get Donald Trump to the negotiating table, just as North Korea did, Index suspects:

“However, the Iran conflict is far more complicated than the conflict in North Korea. Its participants range from guerrillas and terrorists to agents in other states and the US superpower. So the risk is far greater now that someone will make a mistake somewhere along the line, that a provocation will elicit an exaggerated reaction, and the response to a burning refinery will be a burning city.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Aggression for lack of other options

Trump's opponent Iran is on the brink of the abyss both economically and politically, the Tages-Anzeiger comments:

“The rulers of an oil state that can hardly export oil anymore have little room for manoeuvre. The rival power centres in the clergy and the security forces, the population explosion, the water shortages - the Islamic Republic has enough problems even without Trump. If Tehran tried to draw a red line for the US with the help of the Houthis or other Shiite militias, the message would be unmistakable: the US can attack, but it will pay a high price. Dealing with this kind of asymmetric war as the leader of a superpower requires more tactical skills than Trump can be credited with.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Europe must rethink attitude towards Iran

The crisis is escalating, warns De Telegraaf:

“In the background, the extremely tense relations between the US and Iran since the termination of the nuclear agreement plays a role. ... President Trump was apparently carefully seeking a rapprochement with Iran, but now there's a full-blown crisis. ... Iran denies any involvement in the high-tech attack. And the European Union is warning against rash conclusions. But if convincing evidence turns up that Tehran was responsible for this dangerous escalation it will necessarily affect Europe's hitherto lenient attitude towards Iran.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

A dangerously cheap weapon

Ilta-Sanomat finds the type of weapons used in the attack worrying:

“Drones in the skies over Saudi Arabia are a warning that the latest innovations in weapon technology are available to all - including insurgents and terrorists. Up to now such accurate drone attacks were the preserve of the Americans. ... In the future this may change. ... The technology is not even expensive. Saudi Arabia was attacked with drones estimated to have cost around 15,000 euros each. ... In the wrong hands these drones are a very dangerous weapon. Just thinking about their destructive power is enough to give you goosebumps.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Drones hit the mark in Saudi Arabia

The damage to Saudi Arabia's reputation is enormous, Der Standard notes:

“Saudi Arabia is one of the countries with the highest defence budgets in the world, and spends billions on high-tech military equipment. Yet a few relatively simple drones were enough to cripple a significant part of its oil-producing industry - with international consequences. It will be a while before we discover the details of what happened in the Aramco facilities, but the satellite images - showing huge smoke clouds over the Arabian Peninsula - already speak volumes. ... For Saudi Arabia, where the economy is lagging far behind Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's 'Vision 2030', the damage not just to its economy but to its image is enormous.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Provocation in a powder keg

The attack in the Persian Gulf has explosive potential, warns De Standaard:

“First of all, the investigation into the exact course of events could become explosive. ... One possibility is that Yemeni Houthis actually carried out attacks through a cell inside Saudi Arabia. ... According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, US experts are also investigating whether the drones - or missiles - were launched by pro-Iranian militias from neighbouring northern Iraq. Iran, however, denies any involvement. ... Meanwhile we must wait and see how Saudi Arabia reacts - and above all what the US will do.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Increased risk of a recession

The Financial Times voices concerns about oil prices:

“The bigger risk facing the market [than the closure of damaged facilities] ... is some form of Saudi retaliation against Iran, which backs the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The fear of such a conflict, reinforced by the unstable nature of the Saudi regime under the crown prince, will drive the oil market in the next few days. If retaliation becomes a reality any spike could be sustained, feeding the risk of an economic recession.”