FO condemns attacks on Saudi oil installations

Updated May 16, 2019

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This satellite image provided by Planet Labs Inc. shows Saudi Aramco's Pumping Station No. 8 near Al Duadmi after what the kingdom described as a drone attack on the facility. ─ AP
This satellite image provided by Planet Labs Inc. shows Saudi Aramco's Pumping Station No. 8 near Al Duadmi after what the kingdom described as a drone attack on the facility. ─ AP

ISLAMABAD: The For­eign Office on Wednesday condemned drone attacks on the installations of Saudi state-owned oil company Aramco and reiterated support for the kingdom and “international” elements in the region.

“Pakistan strongly condemns the drone attacks on oil pumping stations in Eas­tern Province of Saudi Ara­bia,” an FO statement said.

The attack came a day after four commercial vessels, including two Saudi carriers, had been targeted off the UAE coast.

The Houthis said the attacks were a response to the “aggressors continuing to commit genocide” of the Yemeni people.

The attacks on two of the Aramco pumping stations resulted in one per cent increase in oil prices in the international market.

One of the stations was reportedly damaged forcing Saudi Arabia to suspend the supply line to the Yanbu port on the Red Sea.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Aramco had “temporarily shut down” the pipeline to “evaluate its condition” but added that oil production and exports had not been interrupted.

“The company [Saudi Aramco] is working on restoring the pumping station before resuming operations,” he said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The Houthis have carried out a number of drone strikes against the Saudi targets, but the latest incident assumed special significance in view of the escalation in the Middle East between the United States and Iran.

The US deployed an aircraft carrier, a Patriot missile battery, B-52 and F-15 aircrafts, and amphibious dock in response to an unspecified threat from Iran.

Iran would be held accountable for attacks by proxy forces, said the US that along with Arab allies treats the Yemeni Houthis as Iranian proxies.

The United Nations urged all sides to “exercise restraint for the sake of regional peace”.

“Pakistan expresses its solidarity with Saudi Arabia and reiterates its full support against any threat to stability and security of the Kingdom,” the FO statement said.

“Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reaffirms its commitment for continued efforts and cooperation with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the international community for its elimination,” it added.

While previous condemnations of the Houthi attacks have been restricted to expression of support for the Kingdom, this was the first time that the government mentioned its support for the international community in a clear reference to the US that is leading anti-Iran forces in the region.

While briefing a National Assembly panel a day earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had said that the government was watching the evolving situation and would take decisions as per its national interest.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2019