September 15, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 8276

The Attack On Saudi Oil Facilities: An Implementation Of Iran's Explicit Threats In Recent Months To Target Saudi Arabia, U.S., Global Economy

September 15, 2019
Iran, Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 8276

On September 14, 2019, two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia – Khurais, the second-largest oil field in the country, and Abqaiq, the world's largest crude oil stabilization plant  – were attacked using 10 drones armed with special munitions. The attack, for which the Houthi militia claimed responsibility (although the U.S. Foreign Secretary stated that there is no proof that the drones originated in Yemen),  did severe damage to the facilities, thereby disrupting about half of the kingdom's daily oil production capacity, or 5% of the daily global oil supply.[1] This will clearly affect oil prices across the world and have an impact on the global economy.

The Saudi and U.S. aerial defense systems, deployed in several bases in Saudi Arabia explicitly for this purpose, failed to intercept the drones or foil the attack. Speaking today (September 14, 2019) on Al-Jazeera, General (ret.) Ma'moun Abu Nowar, a  Jordanian commentator and a former air force commander, and Ahmad Al-Mo'aiad, a Houthi supporter in London, stressed that this was a complete failure of the U.S. and Saudi air defense systems. Al-Mo'aiad added that the UAE is also a potential target for attacks.

To view a MEMRI TV clip of excerpts from their statements, click below.

Iran Realizes Its Threat To Target Regional Oil Industry, Global Economy

Previous MEMRI reports have presented Iran's plan of action, which was openly articulated by the regime's political and military leadership. In response to a April 22, 2019 U.S. announcement on tightening the restrictions on Iranian oil exports,[2] top leaders of Iran's political system, armed forces and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced that they would not allow a situation whereby Iran's neighbors can export their oil to the world whereas Iran cannot do so. The Iranian plan was to prevent the Saudi oil export by force, thereby also harming U.S. interests and the global economy.

In a December 4, 2018 speech on Iranian state TV, President Rohani said: "America should know that we will sell our oil and that they cannot prevent Iran from selling its oil. If America will ever want to prevent Iran from selling oil, no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf."[3] On August 21, 2019 Rohani stated that "the world powers know that if sanctions [are imposed on Iran's] entire oil industry, causing Iran's oil export to drop to zero, the international shipping lanes will no longer be safe, as they were in the past. Therefore, the unilateral pressure on Iran cannot benefit [the U.S.] and cannot guarantee its security in the region and the world."[4]

The aftermath of the Sept 14 attack on one of the Saudi oil facilities (Source:, Sept 14, 2019)

Iran's Moves To Counter U.S. Economic Pressure

The following MEMRI Reports review Iran's reaction to the U.S. policy of economic pressure:

  1. MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1452, How Will Iran Prevent The Export Of Oil From The Persian Gulf To World Markets?, May 6, 2019;
  2. MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8014, Iranian Regime Mouthpiece 'Kayhan' Calls For Targeting America's Economic Interests In The Region, Blocking Strait Of Hormuz And Red Sea To Saudi Oil Exports, April 22, 2019;
  3. MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8082, Iranian Regime Mouthpiece 'Kayhan' Announces A War To Bring Down Saudi Regime And Reduce Saudi Oil Exports To Zero; States: America Has No Desire, Or No Capability, To Support Saudi Arabia And The UAE, May 22, 2019.

Iranian Leadership: The Americans Are Weak, They Can't Contend With Us

The following MEMRI reports from the recent months review claims by Iran and others that the U.S. is weak and unable to confront Iran either technologically or militarily.

  1. MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8132, So Far, Iran's Policy Of Terror Attacks Is Successful, June 20, 2019.
  1. MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8145, Reactions In Iran To President Trump's Cancelled Retaliatory Strike – Iranian President Rohani: 'The White House Suffers From Mental Retardation'; 'Kayhan': Drone's Downing Was 'A Stinging Iranian Slap In The Face To America'; While 'The American Army Was Humiliated, Trump [Only] Bombarded Iran With Tweets!'; 'Now, Saudi Arabia And The UAE... Will Get Their Share', June 28, 2019.

Iran Leads The War On Saudi Arabia And U.S. Interests By Means Of The Houthis

The following MEMRI reports review Iran's role as the leader of the war on Saudi Arabia and on U.S. interests, waged by means of the Houthis.

  1. In August 2018, IRGC General Naser Sha'bani boasted that the Iranian regime had ordered the Houthis to attack Saudi oil tankers and that they had carried out this order in July 2018. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7612, Statements By Top IRGC Official Gen. Sha'bani Published By Fars News Agency: 'We Told The Yemenis To Attack The Two Saudi Tankers, And They Attacked', August 7, 2018.

The quote, published by Iran's Fars news agency, was removed from the agency's website shortly after its posting.

  1. Following the combined Houthis attack on the tankers in the Gulf of Oman and the Red Sea in May 2019, newspaper editors affiliated with the IRGC admitted that Iran was behind the attacks and threatened that there would be more to come. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8062, Editors Of Iranian IRGC-Affiliated Newspapers: Iran Is Behind Fujairah And Yanbu Attacks; Possibility Of Additional Attacks In Red Sea, Golan Heights, May 14, 2019.
  2. About two hours after the September 14 attack on the Saudi oil facilities, Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC Qods Force, tweeted his praise for the Houthi Ansar Allah forces in Yemen, which "today receive inspiration from Imam Hussein and his path."[5] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 7482, IRGC Quds Force Commander General Qasem Soleimani Posts Video after Yemeni Drone Attacks in Abqaiq and Khurais: We Are the Nation of Martyrdom; Iraqi PMU, Yemeni Ansar Allah Are Following Imam Hussein’s Path, September 14, 2019.

To view a MEMRI TV clip of his statements, click below.

  1. The following report, from June 2019, details the method of the Iranian regime in implementing its threats to target Saudi Arabia and the U.S. interests, and presents Iran's claim that its attacks are justified as retaliation against the economic war waged against it by the U.S. and its allies. MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8122, Iran's Doublespeak: Months Of Threatening Attacks, Taking Responsibility For Some Of Them, And Ultimately Denying Any Connection To Them Iran's Doublespeak: Months Of Threatening Attacks, Taking Responsibility For Some Of Them, And Ultimately Denying Any Connection To Them, June 17, 201
  1. In April 2015, MEMRI reported that Iran was manufacturing drones for suicide missions. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6193, Syrian Opposition: 'Suicide Drones' Used For First Time Against Opposition Forces In Syria, October 21, 2015.

Threats by IRGC Aerospace Force And Missile Force Commander General Amir Ali Hajizadeh: We Are Ready To Strike All U.S. Vessels Within 2000 Km With Missiles; We Stand United With Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen Against America

11. MEMRI TV Clip No. 7483, IRGC Aerospace Force Commander Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh: We Constantly Monitor U.S. Vessels within 2,000 Kilometers of Iran, Are Ready to Strike Them; We Stand United with Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen against America, September 12, 2019.

To view a MEMRI TV clip of his statements, click below.


[1], September 15, 2019.

[2] On April 22, 2019, the American Administration announced that it was ending the waivers on Iranian oil imports granted to several countries, so as to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero.

[3], December 4, 2018.

[4], August 21, 2018.

[5], September 14, 2019. The Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein ibn Ali, the third Shi'a imam, was killed in the Battle of Karbala in 680 against the army of the Sunni ruler Yazid ibn Mu'awiya. In Iran's Islamic Revolution the figure of Hussein and his death in the Battle of Karbala have become emblematic of Shi'ite revival.

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