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Saudi Energy Warning Highlights Iranian-backed Threat to Global Recovery 

Saudi Energy Warning Highlights Iranian-backed Threat to Global Recovery 

Monday, 21 March, 2022 - 20:30
Firefighters try to extinguish a blaze at an Aramco terminal in the southern border town of Jizan, Saudi Arabia, early Sunday. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

Given the flawless Saudi record of fulfilling global oil supply obligations since 1939, energy markets are surely taking note of Riyadh’s warning on Monday that it “won't bear any responsibility for any shortage in oil supplies to global markets” following a string of attacks on its oil facilities by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi militias.

The warning, made in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying that “the international community must assume its responsibility to maintain energy supplies” and deter the Iranian-backed terrorist Houthi militias’ “malicious attacks that represent a direct threat to the security of oil supplies in these extremely sensitive circumstances in global energy markets.”

It highlights the increasing Iranian-backed threat to energy security and the post-pandemic global economic recovery. Saudi Arabia urged the international community to assume its responsibilities, stand firmly against the Houthi militia, and deter Iran from providing them with ballistic missile technology and advanced drones they use to target energy production sites in the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia’s warning comes as oil prices are witnessing a significant rise because of the Russian-Ukrainian war. It also comes as the United States is trying to urge oil producers to pump more quantities to calm global markets.

Despite the spike in Houthi’s systematic targeting of oil and civilian facilities inside Saudi Arabia, which led to a temporary decrease in production capacities, the Kingdom has - thus far - used its stockpile to compensate for the decrease in production and support the stability of global energy markets. Yet the latest warning highlights the difficulty of continuing to secure oil supplies while under growing Iran-backed attacks. 

Dr. Abdulaziz bin Saqr, President of the Gulf Research Center, said that there is a link between energy security and the security of its production. Saudi Arabia’s warning, he noted, is “a strong and unprecedented message, that will have its impact, especially on oil prices”. 

"Just as the responsibility for maritime security is an international one, the responsibility for [preventing] attacks on oil facilities is also an international one. Today, you cannot hold me responsible for the lack of supplies, while there is an external aggression, and the international community has not fulfilled its responsibilities,” he added.

Bin Saqr said: “the Saudi message is clear; under such continuous aggression, any shortage of production is not our responsibility. Where there is production, there is also security for pipelines, shipping ports, trucks, refineries and offshore platforms, all of these things combined, and it is not possible to separate supply and security.”

Dr. Fawaz Alamy, Chairman and CEO of Global Business Consulting House, said that energy security is an international responsibility. “Energy matters to the world, especially at this sensitive time. Saudi Arabia takes into account the interests of its partners, but in return, these states must fulfill their obligations and denounce what is happening from the Iran-backed Houthi terrorists,” he said. 

According to Alamy, the international community “must consider the reclassification of the Houthi group as a terrorist group, especially the United States which took the group off the list of terrorist organizations.” He continued, “Today, America is suffering from high oil prices, and it may suffer more if any problem occurs in one of the Kingdom's oil facilities as a result of these Houthi attacks.”

Abdullah Al-Qahtani, a specialist in international law, said that the security of energy supplies “is an essential pillar of the global economy, and it is unreasonable to allow Iran-backed Houthis to tamper with energy security without taking appropriate measures against them”.

He explained that the attacks “constitute a threat to the stability of global economic growth and opportunities for recovery, at a time when geopolitical tensions are rising dramatically, and that is why such sabotage requires a different, urgent and resolute response from the entire international community.”

“The entire international community knows that Iran supports the Houthis and provides them with weapons and support systems that allow these militias to carry out the attacks,” Al-Qahtani added. This, in his opinion, highlights the need for the international community “to realize that limiting negotiations with Iran to its nuclear programme only encourages these deadly, destructive and dangerous acts of sabotage. Iran’s attempt to keep its subversive role in the region off the negotiating table means that such attacks will continue to threaten global energy security.”

“It is a dangerous that the world is turning a blind eye to the systematic targeting of Saudi oil facilities. Iran-backed Houthis are violating all international norms and laws and this is not met with sufficient international deterrence,” he warned. “The world must assume its responsibilities in this regard and not expect Saudi Arabia to bear the consequences of this threat alone. Rather, the international community must stand united in deterring the terrorist saboteurs and those who stand behind and support them,” Al-Qahtani added.


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