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Iran's Gift After Saudi Oil Attack: Trump’s No-War Pledge

By Investing.com (Barani Krishnan/Investing.com)CommoditiesSep 20, 2019 04:15AM ET
www.investing.com/analysis/irans-gift-after-saudi-oil-attack-trumps-nowar-pledge-200466452
Iran's Gift After Saudi Oil Attack: Trump’s No-War Pledge
By Investing.com (Barani Krishnan/Investing.com)   |  Sep 20, 2019 04:15AM ET
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Donald Trump’s propensity to say one thing and let his administration do another has become a gift for Iran in the aftermath of the Saudi attack, as U.S. president assured Tehran there’ll be no military strike despite the demands of some at the White House.

Soon after last week’s historic attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, Trump implied that Iran was a chief suspect. But he also made clear that he didn’t want to go to war with the Islamic Republic.

Now, Tehran is holding the president to that, while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lobbies for international support to punish Iran for the attack.

Iran's Zarif Pitches Pompeo Against Trump

Iran’s craftiness was visible on Thursday when Foreign Minister Javad Zarif appeared to drive divisions between Pompeo and Trump, describing the state secretary as part of a renegade camp at the White House that was trying to instigate the president into a war he didn’t need.

For a moment, Zarif could have almost been forgiven for sounding like a Trump ally who was helping the president look out against enemies in his own cabinet.

And while he mentioned no other names, Zarif appeared to be citing the renegade camp once led by Trump’s former national security advisor John Bolton. The president sacked Bolton earlier this month, after disagreeing with most of his recommendations agitating for battle with Iran.

Saudi Crisis Makes Trump And Iranians Strange Bedfellows

As ludicrous as it was to expect any real camaraderie between them, Trump’s aversion to war has strangely made him the Iranians’ best hope in the current crisis involving Saudi Arabia. Fact of the matter: While the Saudis might wish to blow their worst enemy off the face of earth, Trump wants to keep them alive.

Since the president called off a missile hit against Iran in June after deciding it to be an excessive response to the shooting down of a U.S. drone by Tehran, decision makers in the Islamic Republic have found Trump increasingly predictable.

Just days before the Sept. 14 Saudi attack, Trump was trying to coax Iran to the negotiation table so that U.S. sanctions against Tehran could be suspended while a new nuclear deal is worked out between them. The rest of the administration was, meanwhile, pressing ahead with the campaign to inflict “maximum pain” on Iran through sanctions — another Trump policy that the president falls back on whenever diplomacy with Tehran fails.

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U.S. sanctions against Iran have been in place since November last year, after Trump unilaterally pulled the United States out of a global nuclear pact with the Islamic Republic sealed by his predecessor, Barack Obama. He then demanded that Iran renegotiate with his administration. Tehran refused, causing a new escalation in Middle East tensions since.

Said John Kilduff, founding partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital:

“In Trump, the Iranians have found someone they can manipulate as he keeps the strike option off the table, allowing them they do as they please with minimal risk.”

For his part, Trump announced on Wednesday that he had ordered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to “significantly” enhance sanctions against Tehran, after stopping short of outrightly accusing Iran for the attack on Saudi Arabia.

Yemen-based Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they used drones to hit the Abqaiq crude processing complex and Khurais oilfield, temporarily knocking out 5.7 million barrels of Saudi oil output, or 5% of daily world supply. Pompeo, however, said U.S. evidence showed that the weapons were fired from southwest Iran.

Pompeo, Zarif Exchange Blazing Rhetoric

Visiting Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, Pompeo invoked Iran’s Supreme Leader, describing “the fingerprints of the Ayatollah as having put at risk the global energy supply”. He also called the attack an “act of war” and lobbied for the formation of an international group to deter Iran.

Zarif responded with his own blazing rhetoric on Twitter:

“’Act of war’ or AGITATION for WAR? Remnants of #B_Team (+ambitious allies) try to deceive @realdonaldtrump into war.”

He also promised an “all-out war” as payback for the alleged war crimes committed in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and the U.S. The Houthis say Saudi air strikes in Yemen, assisted by U.S. intelligence and logistical support, had indiscriminately killed thousands of innocent civilians.

Added Zarif to his tweet:

“For their own sake, they should pray that they won't get what they seek. They're still paying for much smaller #Yemen war they were too arrogant to end 4yrs ago.”

The Saudis Might Still Get Their Hit At Iran

Despite Iran’s bet that the Saudi attack will come to pass without risk for itself, a report in the Washington Post earlier this week suggested that Riyadh was planning a counterattack on Iran’s Abadan oil refinery, one of the world's largest, or Kharg Island, the republic’s biggest oil export facility. Attacks on either location are expected to significantly impede Iran's ability to process and sell oil.

Other targets include missile launch sites, bases or other assets belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the elite Iranian military unit blamed for much of Iran's paramilitary operations against adversaries outside the country.

The report said Saudi Arabia could carry out the strikes with U.S. intelligence, targeting and surveillance capabilities, although the United States itself would not fire any weapon. That would be in line with Trump’s remarks earlier this week that he was “locked-and-loaded” to respond to Iran, but “not ready for war”.

Iran's Gift After Saudi Oil Attack: Trump’s No-War Pledge
 
Iran's Gift After Saudi Oil Attack: Trump’s No-War Pledge

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Bahram Zaker
Bahram Zaker Sep 21, 2019 12:32AM ET
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they don't even know how to manage their weapons let alone fight a war....they only know about back stabbing and hurting poor weak people
Bahram Zaker
Bahram Zaker Sep 21, 2019 12:29AM ET
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is saudia Arabia strong enough to fight iran
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 20, 2019 11:52AM ET
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From New York Times: Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford would meet with President Donald Trump later Friday to present possible options for military retaliation. (So this is happening, as much as most of us here don't wish the US to go down such a path. Let's pray that sanity prevails and Trump holds to his no-war pledge)
형빈 전
형빈 전 Sep 20, 2019 11:22AM ET
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High oil price can choke china's US dollar balance. and US can get more money in oil sector. maybe US concern about consumer and Russia
Zachary Smith
Zachary Smith Sep 20, 2019 11:11AM ET
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Unfortunately not an objective look at the situation at all. Barani's subjective view points come out and paint the story so it fits his canvas. I would have liked to have gotten more objective facts without having to pick through what is rhetoric and what is legitimate.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 20, 2019 11:11AM ET
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Zachary, as I've said this represents the various strands involving the many actors here. The arguments could get more objective as the situation progresses and you're likely to get a lot more of it in the coming days at the U.N. assembly.
George Ai
George Ai Sep 20, 2019 10:21AM ET
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Well said Barani!
Matt Henry
Matt Henry Sep 20, 2019 9:54AM ET
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not a Trump fan but I'm with him on this one.
Shaoyan Zhang
Shaoyan Zhang Sep 20, 2019 9:34AM ET
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absolutely! re-read your title again and again. your title makes it sound Iran is the only beneficiary of "no war" , by extension, trump is doing iran's bidding. "No war" benefits everyone!
Show previous replies (2)
Shaoyan Zhang
Shaoyan Zhang Sep 20, 2019 9:34AM ET
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in the court of Law, we are all inocent until proven otherwise. it is not proven iran is guilty, just like iraq was never proven guilty and was bombed regardless. the sentiment you are expressing here is quite analogic to pre-iraq war.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 20, 2019 9:34AM ET
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I'm only stating the allegations against Iran. No matter what the Saudis and US think, some in the world are never going to be convinced that Iran is responsible for this. There is no justification for bombing Iran, of course, because if Trump hadn't started this by tearing up the nuclear agreement, the world might be a better place today. Iran is only doing what it deems right under the circumstances and I'm totally with that. But they are being crafty too -- in a cute way, if you, playing Pompeo against Trump -- and that's what this story is mainly about.
Shaoyan Zhang
Shaoyan Zhang Sep 20, 2019 9:34AM ET
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your original article speaks for itself. you basically have said everything , except for explicitly saying it, promoting the war (or disappointed that trump chickened out). you should not have injected your pro-war opinion into this platform at all.
Shaoyan Zhang
Shaoyan Zhang Sep 20, 2019 9:34AM ET
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Barani Krishnan By using words "allegations" and "convinced", you are 1, giving too much credibility to the government. 2, blaming the public for not accepting the propaganda. We are all old enough to recall the drumbeat before Iraq war. I love the website, it is just unfortunate you are injecting politics into it, and your defense is even more revealing.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 20, 2019 9:34AM ET
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I suggest you trawl back on the Iran related analysis I've done in recent months. There aren't many but enough for you to gather a consensus on what my thoughts about an attack on Iran are. War is despicable. I am old enough too to have seen enough of what you're describing. It's laughable to me that one should think I'm pro-war simply for pulling together a bunch of views out there to say Iran is fortunate and Iran is crafty in how it's playing its opponents. If anything, these are strong attributes for Iran and laudable. And also please understand something here: The United States is not going to war because of my story. It's going to take a lot more than that, and God forbid we see that in our lifetime. Good day to you.
John Theos
John Theos Sep 20, 2019 8:52AM ET
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This is a financial website. Please save your war propaganda for the fake news sites.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 20, 2019 8:52AM ET
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Please read my comments below before you accuse me of war propaganda. And yes, I know it's a financial website, but we also cover political risk and I'm on perfectly legitimate ground here. Why don't you give the same advice to the Wall Street Journal or Bloomberg?
Teemu Hujanen
Phowiz Sep 20, 2019 8:32AM ET
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This sounds to me like there are powers behind Trump that wants war with Iran. And I wouldn't say it's impossible that those are the same powers that orchestrated the oil hit in the first place as a false flag.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 20, 2019 8:32AM ET
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Phowiz, you aren't wrong at all, and that's what this article is trying to say. There are still many Bolton types within the administration.
John Theos
John Theos Sep 20, 2019 8:32AM ET
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Barani Krishnan Acually, the article is trying to make President Trump look weak and foolish for not rushing to war. Seems to me like it's one of these "Bolton types" that wrote the article.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 20, 2019 8:32AM ET
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All this is meant to show is how Trump has painted himself into a corner by tearing up a nuclear deal that was working. And now he wants steady oil supply and prices. In fact, I do approve his stance in not submitting to the warmongers in his circle. It's up to you to decide if he's weak or not. I'm making that call.
Thomas Zadek
Thomas Zadek Sep 20, 2019 8:26AM ET
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Does the President have any authority to go to war on his own without Congressional approval when not kne US citizen or asset is involved? That having been said please Mr. President don’t let us get stomped on like Ovama.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 20, 2019 8:26AM ET
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In theory, Thomas, he doesn't shouldn't be getting America into a war without Congressional approval. In reality, Trump himself has never bothered to think about the Constitution and why we even have one. But to answer your question, he's NOT seeking war at this time.
John Theos
John Theos Sep 20, 2019 8:26AM ET
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Barani Krishnan Please site an example of President Trump violating the constitution.
Martin Beach
Martin Beach Sep 20, 2019 8:26AM ET
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just be happy no Bushes in the WH.
Fin Ally
FinAlly Sep 20, 2019 8:17AM ET
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Trump dosen´t want high oil prices. Wordl`s economy don´t need high oil prices. Trump dont´t want to give extra benefit to Russia $$$$   for nothing. Russia is also under sanctions. Better wait and see new sanctions for Iran . Sanctions will affect like a cancer. Cancer kills slowly but certainly.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 20, 2019 8:17AM ET
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You are absolutely right that it's (low) oil price motivation that's pushing Trump to even think of diplomacy with Iran. Balancing the Russians is one thing, but more importantly, it's the race for White House 2020. High oil prices have never been good for any president in election year and it's a chance he'd rather not take. I've written about this i. multiple articles before.
Ricky Neal
Ricky Neal Sep 20, 2019 7:51AM ET
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Pompeo against Trump? As if Iran has craftily orchestrated internal divisions at the White House? Iran has a surprise coming. What will the headlines be then? They earned it? They’re only plauing themselves!
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 20, 2019 7:51AM ET
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This is nothing more than a listing of various perspectives to what's going on. You are of course free to form your own.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Sep 20, 2019 6:35AM ET
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Maybe shelve the hawkish articles until youre on an aircraft carrier facing the enemy. This is shameful.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 20, 2019 6:35AM ET
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Is this a hawkish article? Or this a portrayal of what exactly is going on, only that you don't want to acknowledge it. Let me start by making something clear: I am the LAST person who wants war. Yet, that will NOT stop me from narrating the bellicose attitude of politicians who are at the brink of pushing the world into one conflict after another. After Bolton, you now have Pompeo. Iran is ONLY doing what is natural for it under the circumstances. But there are consequences too for what it is doing, and that's exactly what this article is trying to warn.
John Theos
John Theos Sep 20, 2019 6:35AM ET
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Barani Krishnan I'm starting to get the impression that you're a shill for the military industrial complex, Barani. Why are you so invested in contradicting everyone who is against war? Also keep in mind that Iran is a democratic state with equal rights for all its citizens, while Saudi Arabia is a monarchy, practicing and promoting Sharia, while committing a genocide in Yemen.
Shaoyan Zhang
Shaoyan Zhang Sep 20, 2019 6:35AM ET
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absolutely! re-read your title again and again. your title makes it sound Iran is the only beneficiary of "no war" , by extension, trump is doing iran's bidding. "No war" benefits everyone!
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 20, 2019 6:35AM ET
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You're completely missing you my point: I DON'T WANT WAR, just like you. I'm not advocating war. All this article does is pull together the different strands from the different actors here. I am totally with you that Iran is a sovereign state that needs to be respected for what they are. I would, if permitted, even call them a victim under the circumstances (and don't take that literally, please) because if Trump hadn't torn up that nuclear pact, we wouldn't be having this problem now. And yes, what the Saudis are doing IS genocide in Yemen. I have referenced that in the story too. Of course, I alluded to Iran's craftiness -- and you can't deny that. Zarif has ingeniously used Trump's own pledge against Pompeo. Top marks for that. And lastly, I despite all the arms companies for creating more aggression to sell their wares than providing the so-called climate of defense.
Ricardo Izabel
Ricardo Izabel Sep 20, 2019 6:11AM ET
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Pompeo need to be kicked off!!!
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 20, 2019 6:11AM ET
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Absolutely, Ricardo.
stacy wilson
stacy wilson Sep 20, 2019 6:11AM ET
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trump needs to be kicked out!!!!!!
 
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