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Trump has few options to respond to Saudi oil harvests

WASHINGTON – The attacks on the Saudi Arabian energy production system struck the president

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at a time when its national security team is thinnest for over a year.

Mr. Trump supported the leaders of Saudi Arabia in their war against Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen as US legislators embarked on the conflict and became impatient with the Crown Prince of the Kingdom.

The government has also raised military threats against Iran in an effort to curb its nuclear programs and regional ambitions.

Mr. Trump is on the verge of exhausting the opportunities to put Iran under financial pressure. The Trump government has already imposed some of the strictest sanctions on the Iranian oil industry, rejected the extension of oil waivers and threatened secondary sanctions against units that did not comply.

It has already designated the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard's Islamic Corps as a foreigner terrorist organization. The IRGC is conducting Tehran's ballistic missile programs, and its specialized Quds Force has arranged arms deliveries and advised militia against the regime in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the region.

As an additional challenge, the Trump administration's foreign policy team has narrowed with the retirement of a national security adviser

John Bolton

earlier this week. Mr. Bolton was the chief architect of Iran's strategy and the third national security adviser to leave the White House since 201

7. The post of director of the National Intelligence Service is vacant, while a new defense minister occupied a month-long vacancy in July.


Mike Pompeo,

a hawk who has consistently and vociferously campaigned for the ultrahigh-pressure campaign since the usa withdrew from the nuclear agreement with iran and six world powers. He has often conflicted with Mr. Bolton and now has more influence on foreign policy than ever before since joining the Central Intelligence Agency.

On Saturday, Mr. Pompeo gave the first US response to the attacks on Saudi's oil production. When we accused Iran and claimed there was no evidence that the strikes came from Yemen, the Houthis' claims contradicted.

"We urge all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran's attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that the energy markets are still well supplied and that Iran is held accountable for its aggression, "the secretary said on Twitter.

It is unclear what further action could be taken to increase this economic pressure on Iran.

The government hopes that its intelligence services, which are tying Tehran to the attacks, despite many years of rejection of its action, could convince more European allies to join Mr. Trump's Iranian strategy. On Saturday, however, other signatories reacted sluggishly to the Iranian nuclear deal, and only Britain condemned the attack.

Saturday's attacks paralyzed Saudi Arabian oil production, forcing production to drop to about half of its regular 9.8 million barrels a day.

Mr. Pompeo said earlier this week that Trump could possibly meet with his Iranian counterpart.

Hassan Rouhani,

When world leaders meet at the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this month. The prospects for such a meeting now seem unlikely.

Similarly, a French initiative to economically relieve Iran of US sanctions appears to be doomed to failure in full compliance with a multinational nuclear deal, as did previous European efforts to find a solution. [19659005] Mark Dubowitz, head of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank in Washington, said this was the worst time to free Iran from sanctions, as recommended by France. 19659005] "As the Israelis have shown, sometimes only a military response to the aggression of the Iranian regime and its deputies creates a significant deterrent," he said. "Washington can not rely only on sanctions as the only instrument of national power."

The French Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Trump has previously opted for dialogue on conflicts. For example, he set plans for a retaliatory strike after Iran shot down a US drone on Saturday. Prominent Republicans demanded a more aggressive response.

Lindsey Graham

from South Carolina, went on Twitter on Saturday to urge the Trump administration to prepare for the attack on Iran, citing it as another example of how the country wreaks havoc and has no interest in peace.

"It is now time for the US to launch an attack on Iranian oil refineries as they continue their provocations or increase nuclear enrichment. "Graham said in a tweet.

There was no immediate reaction from Sen.

Bob Menendez

(D., NJ.), The leading Democrat in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Mr. Trump said there were five potential candidates who could replace Mr Bolton, including the leading US envoy for Iran.

Brian Hook,

who has been managing the maximum pressure campaign for more than a year. Mr. Hook did not respond to a request for comment.

"The United States has limited opportunities for non-escalating interventions," said Kirsten Fontenrose, a former director of the Persian Gulf region at Trump's National Security Council. 19659025] – Ian Talley contributed to this article.

Write to Jessica Donati at [email protected]

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