Global energy prices spiked Monday by a percentage unseen since the 1991 Gulf War after a weekend attack on key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia caused the worst disruption to world supplies on record, further fueling heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S.
American officials released satellite images of the damage at the heart of the kingdom’s crucial Abqaiq oil processing plant and a key oil field, alleging the pattern of destruction suggested Saturday’s attack came from either Iraq or Iran — rather than Yemen, as claimed by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels there. A Saudi military spokesman later made the same accusation, alleging “Iranian weapons” had been used in the assault. Iran rejected the allegations, with a government spokesman saying now there was “absolutely no chance” of a hoped-for meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and President Donald Trump at the U.N. General Assembly next week.
The tensions have led to fears that action on any side could rapidly escalate a confrontation that’s been raging just below the surface in the wider Persian Gulf in recent months. There already have been mysterious attacks on oil tankers that Washington blames on Tehran, at least one suspected Israeli strike on Shiite forces in Iraq, and the downing of a U.S. military surveillance drone by Iran.
Today on AirTalk, we’ll talk about how consumers along the West Coast will see the impact of this attack and what it means for both the geopolitics of the region as well as U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Yemen.
With files from the Associated Press
Kirsten Fontenrose, director for Middle East regional security at the Atlantic Council, an international affairs think tank based in Washington, D.C.; she has held national security and diplomacy roles in the White House and at the U.S. Departments of Defense and State and is the former senior director of Gulf Affairs at the National Security Council