16:35 GMT +316 December 2019
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    Smoke is seen following a fire at Aramco facility in the eastern city of Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, September 14, 2019.

    Saudi Attacks May Nudge US to ‘Go to War’ With Iran and Seize its Oil, Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom Warns

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    The Trump administration, which has long demonised Iran and been trying to choke off its oil exports, has blamed the latest attacks on Saudi oil processing facilities on the Islamic Republic, despite Yemeni Houthi rebels claiming responsibility. Iran rejects the accusations.

    The United States will emerge as the “biggest beneficiary” of Saturday's drone attacks that targeted a Saudi Aramco processing facility and oilfield in eastern Saudi Arabia, internet tycoon Kim Dotcom has suggested.

    The attacks are expected to trigger a jump in oil prices when markets reopen on Monday, given that Saudi Arabia has halted half its oil production - around five million barrels of crude per day, or around 5 percent of the world's daily output.

    The millionaire Megaupload founder, who is fighting extradition to the US on charges of fraud and online piracy, predicted the attacks would embolden the US - the largest oil producer - to “blame Iran, go to war, [and] take control of Iran's oil which pays for the war.”

    This scenario has partly come to pass already: although Yemen's Houthi rebels acknowledged they were behind the strikes, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed there was “no evidence”  to believe the attacks came from Yemen and blamed Iran instead.

    Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied any involvement and hit back by saying America's “maximum pressure” policy turned to “max deceit.”

    US senator Lindsey Graham, a leading Trump ally, has called on the government to consider attacking Iranian oil refineries in response.

    The Houthis, who are at war with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, already claimed responsibility for a drone attack on a major Saudi pipeline in May. Back then, Saudi officials accused Iran of ordering the strike, but Tehran rejected their claims.

    Relations between the US-Saudi alliance and Iran have soured over the past year, since Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and reinstated economic sanctions against the country.

    This “maximum pressure” campaign is being mounted at a time when the Middle East appears to be embracing a new geopolitical reality, where Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations such as the UAE and Oman are becoming increasingly closer to the United States and Israel over fears of growing Iranian influence in the region.

    Riyadh, along with a number of Western states, accuses Tehran of arming the Houthi rebels. “For 40 years, the Iranian regime has been spreading chaos, death and destruction, by sponsoring and financing terrorist organizations including the Houthis,” Saudi Arabia's deputy defence minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, said in June.

    Iran has acknowledged its ideological support for fellow Shiite Houthi insurgents, although it dismisses charges of providing the militants with weapons.

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