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Saudi Oil Infrastructure Offers a Target-Rich Environment for Iran

Sep 19, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
A Saudi Defense Ministry official speaks in Riyadh on Sept. 18, 2019, following Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais.

A Saudi Defense Ministry official speaks in Riyadh on Sept. 18, 2019, following Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais.

(FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

For years Iran has threatened that if it were no longer able to export oil because of U.S. sanctions, then no one else would be able to either. The Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi Arabian Oil Co.'s Abqaiq and Khurais oil processing complexes and two earlier attacks on the Saudi oil sector gave life to longstanding fears of Iranian attacks on Saudi critical infrastructure. Iran has clearly made the strategic decision to escalate its attacks against oil industry targets in the region in response to U.S. sanctions pressure and Washington's departure from the Iranian nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The challenge for Saudi Arabia will be trying to protect a large number of critical targets across its large territory. But unfortunately for Saudi Arabia, the billions of dollars it spends annually on defense -- including a planned $51 billion in 2019 -- simply cannot protect all Saudi infrastructure...

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