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Erdogan hints at Saudi responsibility over oil attacks

September 18, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Turkish President and leader of Justice and Development (AK) Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech in Ankara, Turkey on 5 September 2019 [Murat Kula/Anadolu Agency]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said whoever dropped the first bomb in Yemen is the one responsible for the attack on Saudi oil facilities on Saturday, in remarks understood to point fingers at Riyadh.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday with his Russian and Iranian counterparts, Erdogan said: “Who first dropped bombs on Yemen? If the answer to that question can be found, I believe we will reach the conclusion that the current point is a provocation.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had suggested that the attack was an act of self-defence. “The Yemeni people are exercising their legitimate right of defence … the attacks were a reciprocal response to aggression against Yemen for years,” he said.

On Saturday, two Saudi oil facilities came under attack, temporarily halving Saudi oil production.

READ: Saudi oil attacks came from southwest Iran, US official says, raising tensions

Erdogan appears to have changed his stance on the Yemen conflict since the Saudi-led coalition commenced air strikes in 2015 against Houthi advances and takeover of the capital Sanaa in September 2014.

“We support the military operation launched by a coalition force consisting of the countries in the region, led by the countries of Gulf Cooperation Council against the Houthi movement upon the request of the legitimately elected [President Abd Rabbuh Mansur] Hadi, about which Saudi Arabia informed Turkey in advance,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said at the time.

The attacks on Saudi’s refinery facilities initially cut oil production by half and led to a price surge of 20 per cent at one point on Monday – the biggest intra-day jump since the 1990-91 Gulf crisis over Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

Although the Houthis have claimed responsibility for the attack as part of what they dubbed “Operation Deterrent Balance 2” the US and Saudi Arabia have laid blame on Iran. Tehran has dismissed the claims with President Rouhani calling such accusations “slander” in a video address to state TV today. He added that the attack was a “warning” of a possible wider offense against the coalition.

Saudi Arabia has said it will be releasing evidence indicating Iran’s involvement.

READ: France sending experts to investigate Saudi oil attack