Riyadh Says 'We Will See' After Huthis Say They Are Halting Attacks Against Saudi Arabia
By RFE/RL September 21, 2019
Riyadh has taken a "wait-and-see" response to the announcement by Huthi militants in Yemen that they are halting all drone and missile attacks against Saudi Arabia.
"We judge other parties by their deeds, actions and not by their words, so we will see," Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said after the surprise announcement by the Iran-backed rebels.
The minister said that Riyadh was consulting with allies and awaiting results of an investigation into the September 14 attack on a major oil facility before deciding what to do.
The announcement by Mehdi al-Mashat, head of the Huthis' supreme council, came a week after the group claimed responsibility for the September 14 strike that shook global energy markets and significantly raised regional tensions.
Mashat said the Shi'ite group Was waiting for a "positive response" from Riyadh, while the UN envoy for Yemen said the initiative "could send a powerful message of the will to end the war."
Despite the Huthi claim, U.S. and Saudi officials have blamed the September 14 attack on Tehran and have warned that all options, including military, remain on the table.
Iran denied involvement and warned the United States that any attack would lead to an "all-out war."
The top commander for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said on September 21 that his forces were "ready for any scenario."
Major General Hossein Salami, in remarks broadcast on state TV, vowed that Iran will pursue any aggressor, and seek to destroy it.
"Be careful, a limited aggression will not remain limited," Salami said. "We are after punishment and we will continue until the full destruction of any aggressor."
His comments come a day after U.S. President Donald Trump authorized a "moderate" bolstering of U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) following the September 14 attack.
'Wide Range Of Military Options'
In July, the United States said it was sending some 500 troops to Saudi Arabia as part of a broader move to increase its force in the Middle East following a spate of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman that Washington blamed on Iran or its proxies.
U.S. media had earlier reported that the Pentagon was set to present a wide range of military options to President Donald Trump on September 20.
The reports said the military would present Trump with a list of potential air-strike targets inside Iran, among other possible responses.
Washington has already announced it was imposing another round of sanctions on Iran, including on its central bank and its sovereign wealth fund, following the attack.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on September 21 that the fresh U.S. sanctions were a "sign of U.S. desperation."
"But this is dangerous and unacceptable as an attempt at blocking ... the Iranian people's access to food and medicine," Zarif said, speaking after arriving in New York for the annual UN General Assembly next week.
In a related development, an Iranian state body in charge of cybersecurity denied reports that there had been a "successful" attack on some petrochemical and other companies in Iran.
"Based on our observations...there has not been a successful cyberattack on oil facilities and other critical infrastructure," said an official statement carried by IRNA.
NetBlocks, an organization that monitors Internet connectivity, earlier reported "intermittent disruptions" to some Internet services in Iran starting in the evening of September 20.
With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and dpa
Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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