The US’ response to the Saudi oil strikes makes little political sense

War with Iran is a large price to pay for political grandstanding

The damage to the refineries was relatively minor. Photo: /Reuters

By: Kelly Grounds, Peak Associate

On September 14, a drone strike critically damaged two of Saudi Arabia’s oil manufacturing infrastructure. The attack was allegedly carried out by Houthi rebels, a group that appeared after the Arab Spring and are fighting for freedom in Yemen. They are currently engaged in a proxy war against the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

This attack halted production of 5% of the global oil exports. While there were no casualties reported — and it is expected that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia will have both refineries back online by the end of September — a global market panic has set in.

However, despite the dip in oil production resulting from these strikes, the panic is not related to oil prices, which are expected to calm down. The panic is instead related to the potential of a new war between the United States and Iran. 

Iran was drawn into this issue after Saudi officials claimed that the drones used in the attack were launched from Iran, north of the kingdom. Officials further claimed that the weapons were the type used by the Iranian government. After hearing these accusations, the United States came to the defence of their ally, suggesting that the attack was the Saudi’s “9/11.”

The United States is obviously not located in the Arab Peninsula. Moreover, the attack was not as bad as it was initially thought to be. So why is the White House comparing it to “9/11,” an attack that killed approximately 2,753 people? There are implications within that statement, the biggest being a precedence for military action in the region which could potentially make the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen worse. 

If this were to happen to a close US ally like Canada, the President’s reaction would make a bit more sense. However, Saudi Arabia is not a close ally in the traditional sense, so the hyperbolic jump to Saudi Arabia’s defense is puzzling — especially as it only draws the US into further conflict in the Middle East.