On Sunday, unnamed US officials claimed the Yemen-based Houthis do not possess the munitions used in Saturday’s attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure.
Just to pull some random quotes, Reuters cited an unidentified US source as saying there were “19 points of impact and that evidence showed the launch area was west-northwest of the targets – not south from Yemen”, while Bloomberg referenced comments from “a third administration official… who said precision-guided munitions had been used”.
The administration was clearly trying to justify Mike Pompeo’s Saturday tweet, in which Trump’s top diplomat (a notorious Iran hawk) unequivocally blamed Tehran and said there was “no evidence” to suggest the attacks originated in Yemen.
Fast forward to Monday and the Saudis have now said their “preliminary” investigation shows Iranian weapons were used in the strikes.
Specifically, Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, said an analysis of “debris and wreckage” indicates “it belongs to the Iranian regime”. Of course, there’s a very sense in which a lot of the Houthis’ weaponry “belongs to the Iranian regime”, so it’s not entirely clear this disproves the group’s claims of responsibility, even if you assume the Saudis are telling the truth.
“The investigation is continuing and all indications are that weapons used in both attacks came from Iran”, al-Maliki told reporters in Riyadh, adding that the Saudis are now probing “where they were fired from”.
“We are working right now to spot the launch point”, he went on to say, before suggesting the Saudis will release the evidence when they’re good and ready. He didn’t give a time table.
Meanwhile, Tehran continues to insist they weren’t involved – well, other than backing the Houthis, of course.
“Accusing Iran of the attacks is in line with the US’s maximum-lies policy”, foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi charged. “Such accusations are unsurprising, unacceptable and baseless”.
Trump, who, by his own account, was “locked and loaded” on Sunday night, delivered some cryptic comments on Twitter.
“Remember when Iran shot down a drone, saying knowingly that it was in their airspace when, in fact, it was nowhere close”, Trump asked, of his 64 million followers. “They stuck strongly to that story knowing that it was a very big lie”, he continued. “Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?”
Yes, we will. Or maybe we won’t. Who knows.