Olivia Capasso || Junior Editor

In the early hours of September 14th, a vast oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia was attacked by a series of explosions from the air.  Two facilities were targeted, the larger of which is called Abqaiq and currently exists as one of the most important producers of oil worldwide.  Seventeen points of impact were located across the plant whose targets suggest that the attack was deliberate and sophisticated. Areas with highly valuable equipment and flammable tanks were apparently focused upon in order to ensure the greatest chance of destruction within the facility.  

Yemen’s Houthi rebels quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that they executed the task using ten drones.  This claim has been analyzed skeptically and deemed more than likely to be false given the evidence revitalized from the scene of the explosions.  Since seventeen locations in the facility, not ten, were bombed, it is not plausible that the Houthis could carry out such an attack with so few drones and from such a far distance given their technology.  The wreckage of the weapons used to deliver these explosions was analyzed and determined to have high rates of similarities to Iranian weaponry. One of the delta-wing drones was identified as having appeared in a military exhibition in Iran, and its ability to travel long distances indicated that it is certainly a product of the nation’s technology.  According to NPR, the drones struck from the northwest direction, supporting the argument that they originated from the Iraq-Iran area, rather than from Yemen, which is from the south.

President Trump has demanded that the Pentagon prepare for retaliation strikes against Iran for their attack on Saudi Arabia, which has been met with confusion and uncertainty in some circles. His defense of Saudi Arabia is surprising granted that the United States has no formal treaty alliance with Saudia Arabia, and thus is not bound by any legal requirement to respond to such strikes. It is also important to take into consideration how near the United States was to entering into war over the seizure of its oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and the downing of a drone, though any action was conclusively withheld. Trump also campaigned to remove the United States from such conflict in the Middle East, however, war is precisely what the foreign minister of Iran promised should he proceed with retaliation plans.  

Issues with one country in the Middle East, such as Iran, would also introduce all other associated countries into combat and could result in a full-scale war across nations. These threats made my Trump now appear to be empty as he has decided for the time being only to increase sanctions on Tehran, the capital of Iran, strengthen global alliances, and refrain from disclosing all operations to the country.  According to Vox, hundreds of troops have also recently been sent to Saudi Arabia to defend the nation rather than attack and actively seek out conflict with Iran or any other Middle Eastern country.

The implications of this attack of such a central oil facility are enormous and ripple into markets across the globe; the strikes have cut oil production by 5.7 million barrels per day which accounts for seven percent of the worldwide output, according to The Nation. The price of oil has skyrocketed to its highest cost in thirty years, simply because half the production of the Abqaiq facility has been halted.  Currently, the world is ruled by oil, and the plants where it is pumped, cleaned, and distributed exist at the epicenter of modern capitalism. Each nation has become increasingly reliant on fossil fuels, despite the detrimental indications for the future climate and environment, which is why it has been highly demanded in modern markets. Oil concentrates power, structures political and economic life, and results in the inevitable conflict between nations battling for control of one of the world’s most important assets.

First-year Olivia Capasso is the junior editor. Her email is ocapasso@fandm.edu.