Saudi Arabia reopens strategic oil pipeline following drone attacks claimed by Houthis

Saudi Arabia reopens strategic oil pipeline following drone attacks claimed by Houthis
Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of ordering Houthi drone attacks on its oil infrastructure.
2 min read
17 May, 2019
Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed the drone attacks [Getty]

Saudi Arabia has reopened a key oil pipeline shut down after drone attacks earlier this week, an official said on Thursday.

Yemen's Houthi rebels on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the drone attacks that targeted two oil pumping stations on the East-West pipeline in Saudi Arabia.

The attack was "ordered by the regime in Tehran", Saudi prince and deputy defence minister Khalid bin Salman claimed on Thursday.

The pipeline is now "fully operational", an official from state oil giant Aramco told AFP.

The drone attacks came amid spiraling tension between the United States and Iran after Washington dispatched a maritime strike group to the Gulf, citing suspected Iranian attacks, and a series of mysterious sabotage attacks hit ships in the UAE.

The East-West pipeline, which can pump five million barrels of crude per day, is a vital piece of infrastructure for Saudi Arabia, as it provides an alternative route for exports if the shipping lane from the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz is closed.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of a military confrontation with the US.

The Houthis claimed the attackers were intended to avenge Saudi actions in Yemen.

Houthi rebels have been locked in conflict with the Saudi-led coalition since March 2015, when the coalition intervened in Yemen to restore the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

After the UAE, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition, pledged to retaliate against the Houthis for the drone attacks, coalition warplanes led airstrikes in and around the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Thursday, killing at least six people.

During the course of the conflict, the Iran-aligned Houthis have launched several missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Yemen's conflict has killed tens of thousands people, many of them civilians, relief agencies say.

The fighting has triggered what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 24.1 million - more than two-thirds of the population - in need of aid.