Tensions have escalated in the Middle East after drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities. On 14 September, Saudi Arabia’s oil fields including Abqaiq, which is the world’s largest oil processing facility; and Khurais, both located in east of Kingdom, witnessed frightful drone attacks. Those oil facilities were of central importance to the global oil trade. These attacks cut five percent of world’s crude oil production and cut the output of Kingdom in half by reducing it to 5.7 million barrels per day. Moreover, oil prices soared up to 20 percent in one day and fell back later. The Kingdom faced this magnitude of prize hikes in Gulf war of 1991.

Right after the attacks, fingers were pointed at Iran for its alleged involvement as the US president accused Iran of backing the attacks. Saudi Arabia and Riyadh led coalition also blamed Iran. Iran was subject to such accusations based on satellite images implying, according to interpretations of US and Saudi Arabia, that the attacks were launched from the north-eastern side of oil fields, whereas the Houthis’ fight is mostly concentrated on southern side. Moreover, according to these interpretations, it was further claimed that the Houthis are not technologically weaponized and equipped enough to operate the attacks this far. Saudi Arabia also claimed that attacks were carried out with Iranian weapons. However, Tehran vehemently rejected all the charges. President of Iran Hassan Rouhani held a joint news conference with his Russian and Turkish counterparts stating that, “Yemeni people are exercising their legitimate right of defence ... the attacks were a reciprocal response to aggression against Yemen for years.”

The Houthis took the responsibility of attacks. The Houthis are fighting against the current regime of Yemen over the last few years. Allegedly, the Houthis are aligned with Iran for the fight against the government, which is backed and supported by Saudi Arabia along with coalition of other regional countries. Tensions in Yemen escalated in 2015 when President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi had to flee abroad and Riyadh led coalition demonstrated a full-fledged involvement in conflict. This coalition began air campaigns which devastated the grounds and took lives of thousands of civilians. Commensurately, the Houthis have also repeatedly launched rockets, missiles and drones attacks at different areas in Saudi Arabia.

This attack may not lead to abrupt war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. However, it would definitely form the environment susceptible to war in case of reiteration of such attacks. The whole region is already convulsed in apparently intractable conflicts.

Moreover, these attacks might have extremely adverse implications and repercussions for the region. First of all, US-Iran tension was already on the full swing following the scrapping of nuclear accord by US. This attack further heightened tensions, and this can potentially lead to war between US and Iran. Trump, President of US, has already given the signal of full preparation and retaliation subject to the emergence of concrete evidence of Iran’s involvement.  “We have a lot of options but I’m not looking at options right now. We want to find definitively who did this,” Trump said. Another war under the auspices of United States would bring complete catastrophe in region. NATO also showed its concern following the attack. “Any disruption to global energy supplies is clearly of concern to NATO Allies. We are monitoring developments carefully and with concern,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told. Israel also demonstrated its reservations in the pretext of ‘spillover’ of attacks. “I am taking care of our security on a 360-degree basis, and I can tell you that we are well prepared,” Netanyahu told. Israel is well aware with the fact that any assault on Iran by the US would result in Iran’s full retaliation towards Israel.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia along with coalition forces would expectedly expand the domain and capacity of war. “The kingdom will take the appropriate measures based on the results of the investigation, to ensure its security and stability,” a statement from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The Houthis warned a continuation of such attacks too. “We assure the Saudi regime that our long hand can reach any place we want at any time we choose,” Houthi military spokesman Brigadier Yahya Saree said in a statement.

These attacks may not lead to abrupt war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. However, it would definitely make the environment susceptible to war in case of reiteration of such attacks. The whole region is already convulsed in apparently intractable conflicts. The way the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid the blame squarely on Iran, and the tweet reading ‘locked and loaded’ by the US President indicates their visceral approach in its dealings with Iran. Meanwhile, the Kingdom’s claim of the employment of Iranian weapons in attack implies their pursuit of a particular design to set Iran up for this blame. However, any war in the region against Iran would equally be devastating for Saudi Arabia and allied countries. Eventually, future of Middle East is entailed if Riyadh-led alliance does not show prudence in their strategic calculations.