With the war drums beating loudly ever since Mike Pompeo accused Iran of launching the drone strike that crippled Aramco oil production, moments ago the odds of an imminent war with Iran de-escalated materially after President Trump said it was "looking like Iran was behind this weekend’s attacks" on Saudi oil facilities, but added that "he doesn’t want to go war with anyone."
"It’s certainly looking that way at this moment," Trump says in response to a question whether Iran was responsible for the attacks.
"I don’t want to have war with anybody” but our military is prepared, Trump says at the White House, where he was meeting with Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa. Furthermore, the president said the US is not looking at retaliatory options until he has "definitive proof" that Iran was responsible for attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.
Still, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that the US "is prepared" if the attacks warrant a response.
Also notably, when asked if he has promised to protect the Saudis, the president responded "No, I haven’t promised the Saudis that... We have to sit down with the Saudis and work something out."
Trump's statement followed a push by the White House to walk balk Trump's belligerent "locked and loaded" comment from Sunday night.
The White House scrambles to walk back Trump's locked and loaded threat to Iran. pic.twitter.com/UazLGuO9Kz— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) September 16, 2019
Meanwhile, in a separate confirmation that war tensions appeared to de-escalate, the Arab News, the semi-official paper of record of the royal family, reported that the Kingdom's Foreign Ministry said international experts, including from the UN, will be invited to participate in the investigation to determine who was behind the attack, suggesting that a conclusive determination is at best weeks if not months away.
Preliminary investigations showed that Iranian weapons were used in the attack, which knocked out more than half of Saudi Arabia's oil production and damaged the world's biggest crude processing plant, the ministry statement said.
"The kingdom is capable of defending its land and people and responding forcefully to those attacks," it added.
The ministry said the attack above all targeted global oil supplies and called it an extension of previous hostile acts against oil pumping stations in May.
The Houthis have carried out scores of attacks against Saudi Arabia using drones and ballistic missiles.
Al-Maliki labelled the Houthis “a tool in the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the terrorist regime of Iran.”
The attacks against Abqaiq, the world's largest oil processing facility, and the Khurais oil field in eastern Saudi Arabia knocked out nearly half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.