Yemeni Armed Drones Attack Saudi Oil Pipeline

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The East-West Pipeline was partly designed as a contingency against Iran blocking Saudi oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz.

The attack did not lead to any casualties or an oil spill but caused significant damage to the structures of the two vessels, said the statement carried on state news agency SPA.

Four ships - two Saudi, one Norwegian and one Emirati - were damaged on Sunday off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in what Emirati officials described as acts of sabotage near the port of Fujairah.

USA national security agencies believe proxies sympathetic to or working for Iran may have sabotaged the tankers off the UAE coast rather than Iranian forces themselves, a US official familiar with the latest US assessments said on Tuesday. Some reports have said the move of military assets were in response to credible intelligence that the Iranians were planning some sort of attack on USA military assets.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have intensified since Mr Trump pulled out of 2015's Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action, an global deal to curb Iran's nuclear activities, and imposed increasingly strict sanctions on Tehran. "This attack proves yet again the importance that all sides stand against such destructive terror attacks, including the Iran-backed Houthis militants", he added. Iran is its third largest supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. and meets about 10% of its total needs. He repeated that Tehran would not negotiate with Washington over Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.

The announcement by al-Falih came as the UAE's regional allies condemned the reported sabotage on Sunday of four ships off the coast of the port city of Fujairah.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented the plan last Thursday, which was requested by national security adviser John Bolton, The Times reported.

"The Iranian nation's definite option will be resistance in the face of the United States, and in this confrontation, the USA would be forced into a retreat", he said. Brent crude futures were at $70.79 a barrel at 1035 GMT, up 56 percents or 0.80%.

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Saudi Arabia called the attack an act of sabotage.

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Asked whether the United States believed Iran played a role in the attacks, Brian Hook, the USA special envoy for Iran, declined to comment, saying only that U.S. authorities would be assisting the investigation at the request of the UAE.

"With rising tensions between Iran and the USA, and with significant naval build-up in the region, markets are sensitive to news and can be tipped by the smallest signs of a conflict", said Mihir Kapadia, CEO of Sun Global Investments.

Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen's internationally recognised governments similarly condemned the alleged sabotage. "It's going to be a bad problem for Iran if something happens, I can tell you that", he said.

"This is a message to Saudi Arabia: Stop your aggression", Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Salam told The Associated Press.

The Houthis also have flown into the radar arrays of Saudi Arabia's Patriot missile batteries, according to the research group Conflict Armament Research, disabling them and allowing the rebels to fire ballistic missiles into the kingdom unchallenged. America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged threats from Tehran.

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