Saudi King: Int’l Community Must ‘Use All Means’ Against Iranian Regime

Saudi King Salman hosts an emergency summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in Mecca on Thursday, May 30, 2019. (Photo: SPA)

( – Saudi King Salman on Thursday demanded that the international community “use all means” to counter Iranian threats to maritime navigation and terror sponsorship, charging that the absence of a “firm” response up to now has encouraged an escalation in malign behavior. Addressing Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) counterparts in Mecca, Salman accused Iran of responsibility for the sabotage of four oil tankers near the Persian Gulf, as well as drone attacks on key oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia. Iranian threats to maritime navigation ‘jeopardize world oil supplies,” he said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, heading for a European visit where Iran will be on the agenda, told reporters flying with him that the recent incidents “were efforts by the Iranians to raise the price of crude oil throughout the world.” The official Saudi Press Agency quoted Salman as telling GCC leaders their nations must work seriously to preserve security in the light of “the recent criminal acts targeting one of the world’s most important trade routes through sabotage act against four commercial carriers close to the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates in addition to targeting two oil pumping stations and a number of vital installations in the kingdom.” He argued that a “lack of a deterrent and firm stance to confront the subversive activities of the Iranian regime in the region has led the Iranian regime to continue and escalate these activities as we see today.” “We demand the international community to shoulder its responsibilities towards the threat posed by Iranian practices to the international peace and security, use all means to stop the Iranian regime from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, sponsoring terrorist activities in the region and the world, and threatening the freedom of maritime navigation in the international straits.” Saudi Arabia on Thursday night opened two of three major “emergency” summits it is hosting this week, with a strong focus on Iran. The summit of the six-member GCC (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain) was followed by an Arab League summit, while an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit was taking place on Friday. During a visit to the UAE Wednesday, National Security Advisor John Bolton characterized the U.S. response to the Iranian aggression as measured – and evidently effective, noting that there had been no further incidents since the first “three attacks.” The “three attacks” referred to were the sabotage of the oil tankers on May 12 – which Bolton attributed to “naval mines, almost certainly from Iran” – the drone attacks on the Saudi oil infrastructure on May 14, and the firing of a rocket that landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on May 19. “I think there is no doubt in anybody’s mind in Washington who is responsible for this,” Bolton said. “And I think it’s important that the leadership in Iran know that we know.” Before the three incidents occurred the Trump administration, citing “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” sped up the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and sent strategic bombers to the region to send a message to Iran. Following the attacks, President Trump approved a request from U.S. Central Command for 1,500 additional U.S. troops to be sent to the region for force protection, including some 600 already deployed to man a Patriot missile defense battery. During a visit to London on Thursday, Bolton said again he did not think anyone who knows the region had any doubt who was responsible for the attacks. The countries whose tankers were targeted – Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Norway – could soon make public the result of their investigations, he told Sky News. Asked what it would take for the U.S. to take action against Iran – since it hadn’t after the allies were targeted – Bolton said, “We’ve made it particularly clear that if American citizens or facilities are threatened or attacked, that there will be a very strong response.” The Iranian regime has denied responsibility for the attacks, and a foreign ministry spokesman called Bolton’s allegation about naval mines “ridiculous.”

Trump to hit Mexico with tariffs in anti-immigration measure

US President Donald Trump has announced tariffs on all goods coming from Mexico, demanding the country curb illegal immigration into the US. In a tweet, Mr Trump said that from 10 June a 5% tariff would be imposed and would slowly rise “until the illegal immigration problem is remedied”. Jesús Seade, Mexico’s top diplomat for North America, said the proposed tariffs would be “disastrous”. Mr Trump declared a national emergency at the US-Mexico border in February. He said it was necessary in order to tackle what he claimed was a crisis at the US southern border. Border agents say they are overwhelmed, but critics say they are mishandling and mistreating migrants. The US president has long accused Mexico of not doing enough to stem the flow of people, and this is his latest attempt to put pressure on the neighbouring state. Mr Seade said Mexico “must respond vigorously” if the tariffs – a tax on products made abroad – were brought in. However, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador responded by saying he did not want “confrontation”. “I propose deepening our dialogue, to look for other alternatives to the migration problem,” he wrote in a letter on Thursday.

During his election campaign and throughout his time in office, President Trump has sought funds to build a wall on the US-Mexico border. He declared the national emergency at the border in an attempt to divert federal funds for a barrier wall, but a judge blocked his efforts in May. The White House said on Thursday that the president would use the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to implement the new tariffs on Mexico. In a White House statement, Mr Trump said the tariffs would rise by five percentage points each month until 1 October, when the rate would reach 25%. The tariffs would stay at that level “unless and until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory”, he said. President Trump’s latest tariff proposal is driven by a political issue – which is not to say that previous tariff moves did not have any politics behind them. But it is sure to have financial and economic consequences. Stock markets in many countries have already registered significant falls. Japanese car makers were among those hit – they have operations in Mexico which will be affected if President Trump does go ahead.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the week ending May 24, 2019

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 16.8 million barrels per day during the week ending May 24, 2019, which was 189,000 barrels per day more than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 91.2% of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline
production decreased last week, averaging 9.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 5.2 million barrels per day. U.S. crude oil imports averaged 6.9 million barrels per day last week, down by 81,000barrels per day from the previous week. Over the past four weeks, crude oil imports averaged about 7.0 million barrels per day, 8.5% less than the same four -week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 1,087,000 barrels per day, and distillate fuel imports averaged 177,000 barrels per day. U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 0.3 million barrels from the previous week. At 476.5 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are about 5% above the five year average for this time
of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by
2.2 million barrels last week and are about 1% above the five year average for this time of year. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased last week.
Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.6 million barrels last week and are about 5% below the five year average for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 0.1 million barrels last week and are about 17% above the five year average
for this time of year. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased last week by 1.6 million barrels last week. Total products supplied over the last four
-week period averaged 20.3 million barrels per
day, down by 2.0% from the same period last year. Over the past four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied averaged 9.5 million barrels per day, down by 2.2% from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied averaged 4.0 million barrels per
day over the past four weeks, down by 2.6% from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied was up 2.9% compared with the same four -week period last year.

Pentagon accuses Iran’s Revolutionary Guards over tanker attacks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military on Friday accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) of being directly responsible for attacks on tankers off the United Arab Emirates earlier this month, describing it as part of a “campaign” by Tehran driving new U.S. deployments. “The attack against the shipping in Fujairah we attribute it to the IRGC,” said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff, adding the Pentagon attributed limpet mines used in the attack to the IRGC. He declined to describe “the means of delivery” of the mines. The remarks were made at a Pentagon news briefing to explain U.S. plans to send 900 more forces, including engineers, to the Middle East to bolster U.S. defence and extend the deployment of some 600 personnel manning Patriot missiles.

Trump invokes emergency arms sales authority to counter Iran

Decision to speed delivery of 22 deals worth $8 billion; opponents decry administration’s move
Getty Images
President Donald Trump’s administration invoked a rarely used provision of American arms control laws to sidestep Congress and authorize billions of dollars in weapons sales to key Middle East allies.

The Trump administration on Friday invoked a rarely used provision of American arms control laws to sidestep Congress and authorize billions of dollars in weapons sales to key Middle East allies, raising regional tensions and angering lawmakers who characterized the decision as an abuse of power, according to congressional sources. Officials notified Congress that the administration is declaring an emergency under arms control laws amid tensions with Iran to rush through the weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two key allies in America’s intensifying confrontation with Iran. People familiar with the details said the sale represents a broad package of 22 separate deals worth about $8 billion. The move, coming the same day President Trump announced he is sending 1,500 more troops to the Middle East, allows the administration to circumvent the traditional congressional review process and speed the delivery of weapons to the Gulf allies.

US orders new troops to Middle East

US President Donald Trump says the deployment of 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East is a “protective” move

Washington (AFP) – The United States said it was deploying 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East to counter “credible threats” from Iran in a move denounced by Tehran on Saturday as “a threat to international peace”. “Increased US presence in our region is very dangerous and a threat to international peace and security and must be confronted,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the official IRNA news agency. The escalation of the US military presence follows a decision in early May to send an aircraft carrier strike force and B-52 bombers in a show of force against what Washington’s leaders believed was an imminent Iranian plan to attack US assets. And it comes as the Trump administration is planning to bypass congressional restrictions to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, a close US ally and Iran’s arch-enemy in the region. “This is a prudent response to credible threats from Iran,” acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Friday.

President Donald Trump, who approved the deployment, called it “protective.”

Rocket Fired into Baghdad’s Green Zone Less Than One Mile from U.S. Embassy

A rocket was fired into Iraq’s capital of Baghdad on Sunday evening, landing less than a mile from the U.S. Embassy, according to a report.

The rocket did not cause any casualties, according to the Associated Press, citing Iraq’s state-run news agency. It came just days after the U.S. embassy in Baghdad evacuated non-essential personnel amid alleged threats from Iran against U.S. troops and civilian employees in Iraq. It was also the first apparent attack since September, according to the AP. The U.S. military spokesman for U.S. Central Command confirmed an “explosion” outside of the U.S. Embassy compound. “We are aware of an explosion in the International Zone (Green Zone) outside of the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on May 19. There were no U.S. or coalition casualties, and Iraqi Security Forces are investigating the incident,” said Navy Capt. Bill Urban. The rocket was believed to have been fired from east Baghdad, which is home to Iran-backed Shiite militia, according to the news wire. A rocket launcher was discovered by security forces in the eastern neighborhood of Wihda, a security official told the AP. Al-Hurra TV correspondent Steven Nabil tweeted a photo of the alleged launcher:

There are approximately 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, ordered there by the Obama administration after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) gained a foothold in the country in 2014. U.S. officials have sounded the alarm on potential threats posed to them by Iranian or Iranian-backed forces in Iraq who worked to help defeat ISIS but could potentially be turned against U.S. forces. Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have risen in recent weeks amid a U.S. pressure campaign on Iran to come back to the negotiating table on its nuclear program. President Donald Trump exited the Iran deal approximately a year ago, in May 2018. Last month, the administration ended waivers to countries who have not yet stopped importing oil from Iran. Shortly after, administration officials warned they were picking up intelligence about Iranian threats to U.S. forces in the Middle East. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo visited Iraq on a surprise trip with reporters, including one from Breitbart News. During his visit, he met with Iraq’s prime minister and president and discussed weaning Iraq off of Iran’s natural resources and keeping U.S. personnel safe in the country.

Ex-CIA Director Warns Iran to Be ‘Very Careful’ Amid Rising Tensions with US

, 03 April 2006
© AFP 2019 / IRNA Middle East A picture released by the official Iranian News Agency shows members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard riding their boat along with an Iranian naval vessel during manoeuvers along the Gulf Sea and Sea of Oman

Former CIA Director David Petraeus warned Iran that it is going to have to be “very careful” in its responses to the US’ pressure campaign in recent months. The former CIA Director suggested that Iran has a decision to make as to how to approach the US from now until the November 2020 elections, where, as they hope, the US pressure campaign will die down. “They are going to have to make a decision. Either they are going to have to really tighten their belt and keep tightening, because it’s going to get worse,” Petraeus said on ABC’s “This Week.” “There are going to be further screws tightening down in [this] maximum pressure campaign and [they have to] try to grit their teeth and get to November 2020 in hopes that their desired outcome emerges.” “They’re going to have to be very careful not to overplay their hand and result in some kind of response that is quite punitive,” Petraeus added.

President Donald Trump swats at a bee during a National Day of Prayer event in the Rose Garden of the White House, Thursday, May 2, 2019, in Washington
© AP Photo / Evan Vucci
Trump: ‘If Iran Wants to Fight, That Will Be the Official End of Iran’

Tensions between the US and Iran escalated earlier this month when the US imposed more anti-Iranian sanctions and sent an aircraft carrier strike group, a squadron of B-52 bombers and Patriot interceptors to the Middle East to grapple with what Washington describes as a threat emanating from Iran.Trump, however, told reporters earlier this week that he does not want war with Iran, while noting that the US is ready to answer any military action against their forces and warning in a tweet that ”If Iran Wants to Fight, That Will Be the Official End of Iran.”

Saudi Arabia says it seeks to avert war, ball in Iran’s court

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia wants to avert war in the region but stands ready to respond with “all strength and determination” following last week’s attacks on Saudi oil assets, a senior official said on Sunday, adding that the ball was now in Iran’s court. Riyadh has accused Tehran of ordering Tuesday’s drone strikes on two oil pumping stations in the kingdom, claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group. The attack came two days after four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Iran has denied it was behind the attacks which come as Washington and the Islamic Republic spar over sanctions and the U.S. military presence in the region, raising concerns about a potential U.S.-Iran conflict. “The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want a war in the region nor does it seek that,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference. “It will do what it can to prevent this war and at the same time it reaffirms that in the event the other side chooses war, the kingdom will respond with all force and determination, and it will defend itself and its interests.” Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Sunday invited Gulf and Arab leaders to convene emergency summits in Mecca on May 30 to discuss implications of the attacks. “The current critical circumstances entail a unified Arab and Gulf stance toward the besetting challenges and risks,” the UAE foreign ministry said in a statement. Saudi Arabia’s Sunni Muslim ally the UAE has not blamed anyone for the tanker operation, pending an investigation. No-one has claimed responsibility, but two U.S. government sources said last week that U.S. officials believed Iran had encouraged the Houthi group or Iraq-based Shi’ite militias to carry it out. The Houthis, who are battling a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, said they carried out the strike on oil pumping stations in the kingdom, which did not disrupt output or exports in the world’s largest crude exporter.

A Norwegian insurers’ report seen by Reuters said Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were “highly likely” to have facilitated the attack on vessels near the UAE’s Fujairah emirate, a main bunkering hub lying just outside the Strait of Hormuz.

Iraq oil minister calls Exxon Mobil’s evacuation of foreign staff ‘unacceptable’

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Exxon Mobil’s decision to evacuate its foreign staff from the West Qurna 1 oilfield in southern Iraq on Saturday was “unacceptable and unjustified”, Iraq’s Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said on Sunday. “The withdrawal of multiple employees – despite their small number – temporarily has nothing to do with the security situation or threats in the oilfields in of southern Iraq, but it’s for political reasons,” Ghadhban said in a statement. Exxon Mobil, which has a long term contract to improve the oilfield on behalf of Iraq’s state South Oil Company, withdrew all foreign staff, around 60 people, Iraqi officials have said. The evacuation came just days after the United States withdrew non-essential staff from its embassy in Baghdad, out of apparent concern about perceived threats from Iran, which has close ties to Iraqi Shi’ite militia. Ghadhban said he sent a letter to Exxon Mobil asking for the company to immediately return to work at the southern oilfield, ahead of a meeting with company executives later this week. Production at the oilfield was not affected by the evacuation and work was continuing normally, overseen by Iraqi engineers (ha  ha ha), the chief of Iraq’s state-owned South Oil Company which owns the oil field, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar said on Saturday. He added that production remains at 440,000 barrels per day (bpd). Nick Note: one of the secrets of the oil business is production remains the same in the NEWS media no matter what the relaity is at the export terminal