Petraeus: Attacks on Saudi oil fields mark 'significant escalation'

Retired Gen. David Petraeus said in an interview for Hill.TV that aired on Tuesday that recent attacks on two Saudi oil refineries mark a “significant” escalation in tensions between Iran and the United States.

“We’ve seen quite a series of provocative actions, this is a very significant escalation,” Petraeus said, referring to recent attacks on two Saudi oil refineries.

“Iran has meant what it said,” he added. “Iran said that if they can’t export oil, they’re not going to allow others to export oil either and we’ve seen a growing number of quite significant actions by Iran attacking ships in the Gulf, essentially kidnapping or taking control of others, shipping oil against sanctions to Syria, shooting down a $130 million U.S. drone.”

Petraeus said even though Iran appears to be behind the attack, he emphasized that it’s still too early to know for sure and that intelligence officials must investigate the situation carefully.

“What you’ve got to do is determine really where did the attacks come from,” he told Hill.TV. “[It’s] much too soon to start rendering judgments that we should or should not use force presumably.”

Petraeus’s comments come after two Saudi oil facilities were targeted by drone attacks over the weekend. The strikes shut off half of the Kingdom’s oil exports, and prices have surged worldwide following the attack.

Though Yemen’s Houthi rebels promptly claimed responsibility, the Trump administration has accused Iran of being behind the attacks, an allegation which Tehran has denied.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? MORE, meanwhile, has ramped up his rhetoric against Iran. Shortly following the attacks, the president warned that the U.S. is "locked and loaded" as officials await verification on who is responsible for the attacks. 

— Tess Bonn