DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Araba said drones attacked one of its oil pipelines as other assaults targeted energy infrastructure elsewhere in the kingdom on Tuesday, shortly after Yemen’s rebels claimed a coordinated drone attack on the Sunni power.
The assaults marked the latest incidents challenging Mideast security after the alleged sabotage of oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates earlier this week amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels, whom Saudi Arabia has been fighting against since March 2015, said they launched a series of drone attacks on the kingdom, across the border from Yemen. The spokesman of the rebels, Mohammed Abdel-Salam, told The Associated Press: “This is a message to Saudi Arabia, stop your aggression.”
“Our goal is to respond to the crimes they are committing everyday against the Yemeni people,” he added.
In a statement carried on the state-run Saudi Press Agency, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said that drones attacked a petroleum pumping station supplying a pipeline running from its oil-rich Eastern Province to the Yanbu Port on the Red Sea.
A fire broke out and firefighters later brought it under control, though the state-run Saudi Aramco stopped pumping oil through the pipeline.
The kingdom’s state security body also said two petroleum pumping stations in the greater region of Riyadh, the landlocked capital, were targeted at the same time. The statement described it as a “limited targeting” of petroleum stations in areas al-Duadmi and Afif in the Riyadh region, without elaborating.
Al-Falih called the attack “cowardly,” saying that recent sabotage acts against the kingdom’s vital installations not only target Saudi Arabia, but the safety of the world’s energy supply and global economy. He said this reaffirms the need of the international community to confront the activities of groups like the Houthis. He also promised the production and export of Saudi oil would not be interrupted.
Benchmark Brent crude traded at $71 a barrel Tuesday, up $1.27 on the day.
The attack on Saudi oil targets comes after four oil tankers anchored in the Mideast were damaged by what Gulf officials described as sabotage, though satellite images obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday showed no major visible damage to the vessels.
Details of the alleged sabotage to two Saudi, one Norwegian and one Emirati oil tanker on Sunday remained unclear, and Gulf officials have declined to say who they suspected was responsible. But it demonstrated the raised risks for shippers in a region vital to global energy supplies as tensions are increasing between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.
The U.S. has warned sailors of the potential for attacks on commercial sea traffic, and regional allies of the United Arab Emirates condemned the alleged sabotage as the tankers were off the coast of the UAE port city of Fujairah.
A U.S. official in Washington, without offering any evidence, told the AP that an American military team’s initial assessment indicated Iran or Iranian allies used explosives to blow holes in the ships. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation, agreed to reveal the findings only if not quoted by name. The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which patrols the Mideast and operates from a base in Fujairah, has repeatedly declined to comment.
The U.S. already had warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region. America is deploying an aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln, and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged, still-unspecified threats from Tehran.
On Tuesday, Spain temporarily pulled one of its frigates that was part of a U.S.-led combat fleet from near the Persian Gulf because of mounting U.S.-Iran tensions. The Ministry of Defense said the Méndez Núñez, with 215 sailors on board, will not cross the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf together with the USS Abraham Lincoln. The Spanish frigate was the only non-U.S. vessel in the fleet.
Citing heightened tensions in the region, the United Nations called on “all concerned parties to exercise restraint for the sake of regional peace, including by ensuring maritime security” and freedom of navigation, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.
Tensions in the region have risen since Trump withdrew America from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and restored U.S. sanctions that have pushed Iran’s economy into crisis. Last week, Iran warned it would begin enriching uranium at higher levels in 60 days if world powers failed to negotiate new terms for the deal.
The oil tankers were visible in satellite images provided Tuesday to the AP by Colorado-based Maxar Technologies. A boom surrounded the Emirati oil tanker A. Michel, indicating the possibility of an oil leak. The other three showed no visible major damage from above.
Yemen plunged into civil war in 2014 when Iran-backed rebels captured the capital, Sanaa. A Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015 to help government troops facing the Houthi advance. The U.S. supported the coalition for years despite its airstrikes killing civilians, and is only recently beginning to step back after the October killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by Saudi agents.
This isn’t the first time Yemen’s Houthis have used drones as weapons — a bomb-laden drone launched by the rebels exploded over a military parade in January for the Saudi-led coalition, killing at least six people.
The use of drones also raises new concerns over Iran’s influence in the conflict. Coalition officials have recently displayed a series of drones they claim show a growing sophistication of the Houthis, starting first with plastic foam models that could be built by a hobby kit, to one captured in April that closely resembled an Iranian-made drone.
Those drones have been flown into the radar arrays of Saudi Arabia’s Patriot missile batteries, according to the research group Conflict Armament Research, disabling them and allowing the Houthis to fire ballistic missiles into the kingdom unchallenged.
Iran has been accused by the U.S. and the U.N. of supplying ballistic missile technology and arms to the Houthis, which Tehran denies.
Such drones remain difficult to shoot down with either light or heavy weapons. Iraqi forces learned this from driving out the Islamic State group from northern Iraq, where the extremists would load drones with grenades or simple explosives to target their forces.
Associated Press writers Maggie Michael and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.
4 Retweets in an hour: Bill de Blasio’s campaign failed to materialize
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was supposed to make an impact on the Democratic presidential nominating process. At least that’s what a handful of pundits thought. But after a little buzz on his first day and a few jabs by the President, it appears de Blasio was nowhere near ready to run for president despite coming in much later than most in the field.
Last week, we noted how his YouTube channel had failed miserably. But that embarrassment was nothing compared to his attempts to play on Twitter, which happens to be the President’s favorite social media playground.
In case he keeps the Tweet up (he shouldn’t) and doesn’t attempt to artificially boost his numbers (he shouldn’t), I’ll put it here to see if it got any traction. Out of sheer embarrassment for him, I shared it and encouraged people to help him out. This is just too cringeworthy to watch unfold on its own.
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) May 20, 2019
Is Twitter important? There’s actually as much of a risk to candidates saying the wrong thing on Twitter as there is of them gaining support as a result. But between Trump’s epic use of Twitter in 2016 and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s use of the platform to shoot herself up to fame, candidates need to at least try to do well on the platform. Bill de Blasio is not doing well. That indicates two possibilities: either he and his team were ill-prepared to run for president or they’re not really running for president but rather running for a cabinet spot or something else in exchange for his help delivering the New York delegates to the eventual nominee.
Either option seems viable at this point.
One thing is certain: Bill de Blasio’s campaign for president should not be taken seriously by anyone. Democratic primary voters and Republican operatives need to all ignore him. He’s going nowhere in 2020.
Twitter suspends Houston Rockets’ account
What happened to the Houston Rockets’ Twitter account? Did they Tweet something conservative or Christian? Did they misgender someone? Is this retribution for falling to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs four out of five of years? Whatever they did, Twitter decided to suspend them, leaving their 2.8 million followers in the dark.
Okay. What did the Houston Rockets do? pic.twitter.com/Qc3FCWhhmA
— 𝚁𝚎𝚢-𝚁𝚎𝚢 🤞🏾✌🏾 (@TheNoLookPass) May 20, 2019
All jesting aside, there are three likely scenarios. They could be the victims of a mass reporting attack in which multiple Twitter accounts report a user in a short period of time, prompting an algorithmic suspension. Or, if they’d been hacked, Twitter may have detected it and shut them down until the real users can regain control and change passwords.
But the most likely culprit is a DMCA takedown complaint that triggers instant temporary suspension. Chances are, they posted a video that included music they didn’t have permission to use. It happens.
Iowans, Tigers, and Rockets… oh my!
The DMCA copyright takedown notices that took out Iowa and Iowa State football twitter accounts this past weekend are now joined by @AuburnFootball and the @HoustonRockets—who knows if they were legit, the system presumes it wasn’t! pic.twitter.com/oQhD2t9rvU
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) May 20, 2019
The Rockets have not responded to our request for comment.
If you or someone you know gets suspended on social media, take solace in knowing even big organizations like the Houston Rockets can fall victim to the ban-hammer (though I doubt they’ll get the same scorn from Twitter as James Woods).
President Trump’s official campaign launch to be on Father’s Day
June 16th is a big day for multiple reasons to the President of the United States. It marks the four-year anniversary of then-candidate Trump riding down the golden escalator behind his wife, thumbs up, ready to become President. It happens to be Father’s Day this year, a nice touch for Americans that will certainly be made by leftist media to represent the oppressive patriarchy or something like that. It will also be the day the President officially launches his reelection campaign.
A report this morning by Axios notes that this date may be more symbolic than anything else. Rallies will start before (some have already been held) and after the day many Americans spend with their dads. “In conversations, Trump makes it clear that he thinks of the official kickoff as June 16 — four years to the day since he rode down the gold escalator in Trump Tower to announce his improbable 2016 run.”
Whatever the official day is doesn’t really matter. Reelection is already at the top of mind. The difference between now and his 2016 run is that instead of worrying about stock prices and real estate deals, he’ll be running this campaign against the backdrop of a trade war with China, aggression with Iran, turmoil at the border, and need to keep the economy humming.
He won’t have to worry much about primary season this time, though. Even though Bill Weld is technically in the race, his name has barely been mentioned since he announced his candidacy.
Letting the Democrats eat each other
A huge part of the equation for Trump’s campaign team will be keeping him attacking the right people for the right reasons. Being an incumbent who likes to attack his competitors puts him in a peculiar situation because his attacks can actually help someone emerge. As he continues to hit former Vice President Joe Biden and has softened on attacks against Senator Bernie Sanders, their numbers are heading in the opposite direction. It’s as if his attacks on Biden are fueling Democrats to want to support him more.
His team will have to be strategic in how he uses his tremendous punching power, particularly on Twitter. The last thing they want is for any one candidate to run away with the nomination early. They need to keep the Democrats attacking each other for as long as possible. As long as two or more candidates are close to the top, they’ll not only be prolonging the nomination process and burning through money going after each other, but they’ll also be giving ammunition for the President to use against the eventual nominee.
In less than a month, the President’s team will be in full-blown campaign mode. It also means now is the time for conservatives to start honing our message against the socialist wave of ignorance that his competitors are already starting.
Democrats imperiled whether they impeach or not
Bilderberg 2019 location remains secret less than a month out
The myth of overturning Roe v Wade
Top 5 ‘assault weapon’ technologies that existed BEFORE the Constitution was written
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The sons of God in Genesis 6 were not the sons of Seth (and Nephilim were really giants)
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Jude 1:21 – ‘in the love of God’
Proverbs 4:18 – ‘path of the just’
Exodus 20:8 – ‘the sabbath day’
Luke 5:31-32 – ‘sinners to repentance’
John 3:16 – ‘everlasting life’
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