‘Drone’ attack on Saudis destabilises an already volatile region

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The Houthis say they did it; the United States insists that it was Iran; the Iranians deny any involvement. A predictable war of words has followed the dramatic attack on Saudi Arabia’s most important oil installations. The strikes have shown the remarkable vulnerability of oil facilities of central importance to the global economy.

The Saudis – whose air campaign in Yemen is backed by the Americans and whose warplanes are only kept in the sky by a variety of western contractors – have been conducting a long-running air campaign against the Houthi rebels. But their opponents have now demonstrated the ability to deliver a strategic riposte of their own.

The whole episode has inevitably revived the debate about the extent to which Iran is providing technology and assistance to the Houthis. Given the already highly charged atmosphere in the Gulf, it has served to ratchet up regional tensions.

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