What’s the end game here? Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has just arrived in Jeddah for talks with Saudi leaders over a response to the weekend attacks on two of the kingdom’s major oil facilities.
After a prior press conference by the Saudi Defense Ministry where it for the first time assigned public blame on Iran for the attacks which initially knocked out half of the kingdom’s daily oil output, saying the air attacks “unquestionably” had Iranian state sponsorship, Pompeo has announced the Aramco attacks constitute an “act of war” by Iran.
And President Trump himself said Wednesday from the White House that it looks like Iran did it but that he still hopes to avoid war.
He announced via a statement on Twitter that, “I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!” — in what appears an alternative to launching a military response.
“I’m not looking to get into new conflict, but sometimes you have to,” Trump told reporters Wednesday.
Pompeo’s new “act of war” declaration indeed takes the potential for escalation right back to boiling point.
Pompeo is in Jeddah where he’s expected to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to evaluate a possible response and to “coordinate efforts to counter Iranian aggression in the region,” according to a State Department statement.
“We were blessed that there were no Americans killed in this attack but any time you have an act of war of this nature, there’s always risk that that could happen,” Pompeo said. “This is an attack of a scale we’ve just not seen before,” he added later speaking to reporters off-camera just before landing in Jeddah.
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