The Latest: Yemen rebels halting attacks on Saudi Arabia
BUQAYQ, Saudi Arabia (AP) — The Latest on tensions in the Persian Gulf (all times local):
Yemen’s Houthi rebels say they are halting all drone and ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and are waiting for a “positive response.”
The Iran-backed Houthis have claimed recent attacks on key Saudi oil facilities. These attacks have further raised tensions in the region between the U.S. and Iran.
The decision was announced Friday night by Mahdi al-Mashat, head of the Houthi’s supreme political council, which runs rebel-held areas in Yemen. His comments were carried by the Houthi-run al-Masirah satellite TV.
A Saudi-led military coalition has been fighting the Houthis in Yemen since 2015. That conflict has killed tens of thousands of people.
The U.S. alleges Iran carried out Sept. 14 attack. Saudi Arabia claims the assault was “unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”
But Iran denies being involved. It warns that any retaliatory strike on it by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia will result in “an all-out war.”
The leader of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has called on Saudi Arabia to stop its war in Yemen, or else it will face more attacks on its soil.
In a televised speech Friday, Hassan Nasrallah warned Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates not to incite war “because your houses are made of glass.”
Nasrallah says one strike on Saudi Arabia knocked out half of the country’s oil production, so “what will another strike do?”
He says buying more air defenses from the U.S. will not help the kingdom defend itself, and adds that Yemen’s Houthi rebels have sophisticated missiles and drones.
He says Saudi Arabia “should think well, as a war with Iran will mean their destruction.”
As he weighs his options on Iran, President Donald Trump is stressing restraint as he prepares to meet with military leaders.
Trump said Friday that during the 2016 presidential campaign, some of his critics warned that he would get the United States into war. Trump says he could have easily ordered military strikes against Iran, but doesn’t want to have to do that.
Trump has been stepping up financial sanctions on Iran in the wake of attacks on key Saudi oil installations. Iran denies being involved in the attack and its foreign minister warns any retaliatory strike on it by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia will result in “an all-out war.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence have condemned the attack on Saudi oil facilities as an “act of war.”
Trump’s comments come as he spoke with reporters in the Oval Office during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
President Donald Trump says his administration is imposing additional sanctions on Iran following last weekend’s attack on Saudi oil facilities, which the administration has blamed on the Islamic Republic.
Speaking in the Oval Office Friday during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Trump said: “We have just sanctioned the Iranian national bank.”
Iran denies being involved in the attack. The attacks and recriminations are increasing fears of an escalation in the region.
The U.S. has already applied an arsenal of sanctions on Iran since the administration withdrew in November from the 2015 nuclear deal.
Still, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the latest sanctions demonstrate the U.S. is continuing a maximum pressure campaign, asserting “we have now cut off all funds to Iran.”
Saudi Arabia has taken journalists to the site of a missile-and-drone attack on a facility at the heart of the kingdom’s oil industry.
Journalists arrived Friday to Buqayq in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, home to the Abqaiq oil processing facility.
That facility was hit in an attack Sept. 14 that halved the kingdom’s oil production and has disrupted global energy supplies.
The U.S. alleges Iran carried out the attack. Saudi Arabia says the assault was “unquestionably sponsored by Iran.” Iran denies being involved in the attack and warns any retaliatory strike on it by the U.S. or the kingdom will result in “an all-out war.”
Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi rebels claimed the assault, but analysts say the missiles used wouldn’t have enough range to reach the site from Yemen.
Kuwait says it has raised security levels at its ports given ongoing regional tensions following an attack on Saudi Arabia.
The state-run KUNA news agency reported the decision Friday, quoting Kuwait’s minister of commerce and industry as making the announcement.
Khaled al-Roudhan said it affected both commercial ports and oil facilities.
Small, oil-rich Kuwait separately has told its military to be on heightened alert since the Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Arabia.
That attack halved the kingdom’s oil production and has disrupted global energy supplies.
The U.S. alleges Iran carried out the attack. Saudi Arabia says the assault was “unquestionably sponsored by Iran.” Iran denies being involved in the attack and warns any retaliatory strike on it by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia will result in “an all-out war.”