Though it appears President Trump has already signaled that war with Iran has been averted for now, instead opting to kick the can further down the road with a just announced measure to "substantially increase" sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Saudi Arabia has unveiled the long awaited "evidence" of Iran's alleged involvement in the Aramco attacks.
On Wednesday the Saudi Defense Ministry held a press conference showing the debris gathered from the weapons used in the twin attacks on the Aramco facilities early Saturday, which Riyadh has indicated involved a mix of missiles and drones.
Showcased among the debris can be seen what looks like a ballistic missile, among multiple smaller drones, including according to the statements:
- 18 delta winged UAV + 7 cruise missiles fired
- direction of flight + range indicate attacks did not originate from Yemen, but from the north;
- sophistication of weapons included GPS guidance giving high accuracy.
Laid out on the tables at the press event were what appeared to be sophisticated small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which a Saudi spokesman said "unquestionably" had Iranian state sponsorship.
Meanwhile oil is rising sharply on news of the Saudi official allegations of Iran's "unquestionable" role in the devastating attacks:
The defense ministry spokesman further said the UAVs came from the north to the south, suggesting attack origins from Iranian soil, which contradicts accounts in a prior WSJ report which said no UAVs were spotted crossing the border.
However, some analysts were quick to point out that the Saudi spokesman stopped short of any direct statements alleging the attacks originated from within Iran or that the IRGC Quds force was behind it.
Notably, the Saudi spokesman said that Aramco attacks "could not have been launched from Yemen" but didn't name precisely where they were launched from.
Yemen's Houthis have been unwavering in their insistence that they conducted the attack with ten drones; however, if the cruise missile debris was in fact part of the attack this could contradict the claims of an exclusively Houthi operation.
"sponsored" by Iran and "came from Iran" seem quite different https://t.co/S6HnbAnrRa— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) September 18, 2019
If this is indeed the sum total of "evidence" of Iranian involvement, this whole crisis week of escalation could fizzle down to a low simmer instead of the massive bang that many were expecting in the gulf.
President Trump’s Administration has confronted the Iranian regime's and terrorist organizations aggression in an unprecedented way - we in KSA thank the President for his stance, we will continue to stand with the USA against the forces of evil and senseless aggression.— Khalid bin Salman خالد بن سلمان (@kbsalsaud) September 18, 2019
Of course, the elephant in the room at the press conference remains the question of why the kingdom's advanced US-supplied anti air defenses were apparently incapable of intercepting the inbound projectiles and UAVs?