By David Hearst – Middle East Eye
Al Sharq today – An Iraqi intelligence official said that Iranian planes launched from Iraq were behind the two recent Aramco attacks. He added that “the attacks come in response to previous Israeli attacks financed by Riyadh with drones on sites affiliated with the Popular Mobilization in southern Iraq.”
The official, who preferred not to be named, said that the attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais, two of Aramco’s important oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, came in response to attacks by Israeli drones on bases and convoys belonging to the Popular Mobilization last August, which were coordinated and financed. At the time, the Saudis.
“The latest attack came for two reasons,” the official said. As for the first, it is considered as another message from Iran to the United States of America and its allies that as long as the siege imposed on Iran continues, no one will enjoy stability in the region. As for the second reason, which is the most direct, it is considered as Iranian retaliation in response to the recent Israeli attacks using drones launched from areas inside Syria controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces against the pro-Iranian crowd bases.
He added: “The Israeli attacks were launched by drones with the support and financing of the Saudis. Therefore, the last attack was very devastating, while the attacks in the past were of symbolic value and did not result in much damage.”
Five drone attacks were launched against the Popular Mobilization Forces trained by Iran in August from Kurdish bases under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the northeastern regions of Syria. At that time, the drones bombed bases, weapons depots, and convoys belonging to the Popular Mobilization Forces, and the attacks resulted in the death of one fighter and the serious injury of another.
Iraqi intelligence said at the time that the attacks were planned when the Saudi Minister of State for Gulf Affairs, Thamer al-Sabhan, visited the SDF in June.
The Iraqi intelligence officer refused to reveal the bases from which the drones were launched in Saturday’s attack. However, he stressed that the distance between Iraq and Saudi oil rights was less than half the distance that the drones would have traveled if they were launched from Houthi bases in northern Yemen.
He said that the drones traveled between five hundred and six hundred kilometers, while they would have been forced to fly for a distance of between one thousand and one hundred kilometers and one thousand three hundred kilometers if they were launched from Houthi bases. The flight path taken by the drones towards the southwest, from Iraq towards the oil fields in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia, would have crossed them either over the sea or through Kuwaiti airspace.
It is noteworthy that Kuwaiti media had said on Saturday that a three-meter-long drone was seen flying over the Dar Salwa Palace in the center of Kuwait City.
Meanwhile, the Houthis claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack. However, the Iraqi official said, “It was not the Houthis who launched the attacks. These were Iranian drones that were launched from the bases of the Popular Mobilization.”
However, on Saturday, the embarrassed Iraqi government was forced to issue a statement denying the launch of the drones that attacked Saudi facilities from its territory.
A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Media Office stated the following: “Iraq denies what was circulated by some media and social media about using its lands to attack Saudi oil installations by drones, and affirms its constitutional commitment to prevent the use of its lands for aggression against its neighbors, brothers and friends, and the Iraqi government will deal firmly against Everyone tries to violate the constitution, and a committee has been formed from the relevant Iraqi parties to follow up on information and developments.”
For months, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi sought to prevent his country from becoming a battleground for a proxy war between the United States and Iran.
Early this year, the US military indicated it intended to strike a Hezbollah-controlled runway, after oil facilities in the Gulf were attacked by drones. Witnesses who were present during the dialogue that took place between Abdul-Mahdi and the Americans said that he told the Americans that he could not prevent them from bombing wherever they wanted, but at the same time he could not prevent retaliatory attacks by Iranian-backed groups on American forces and on bases inside Iraq.
However, the expected American attack on Hezbollah did not happen, and instead the United States allowed Israel to use its drones from bases belonging to the Syrian Democratic Forces in northeastern Syria. In August, Abdul-Mahdi came under tremendous pressure to openly accuse Israel of launching the drones that launched the attack on targets inside Iraqi territory.
The Iraqi intelligence source says: “Our Prime Minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, is now caught between a rock and a hard place. He told Iranians and Americans alike that Iraq had been exhausted by decades of war, conflict, and civil war. And dragging him to the center of a proxy war raging between Iran on the one hand and the United States of America and its regional allies on the other will cause irreparable damage to its stability and unity, and this will have serious consequences for the entire region. However, the prime minister’s efforts were in vain, and as the Iraqi official says: “None of the two sides listened to him.”
On Saturday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of carrying out the attacks on Saudi Arabia, and condemned Iran for engaging in misguided diplomacy. Pompeo said on his Twitter page: “Tehran is behind about 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia, while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy.” “Amid all these calls for de-escalation, Iran is now launching an unprecedented attack on global energy supplies,” he added.
However, Pompeo did not provide evidence to prove the source of the attacks, according to a report by the “Reuters” news agency.