The attack on Saudi Aramco's oil facilities on Saturday that halted half of the kingdom's oil production would trigger a Saudi response, Bloomberg website said. The site questioned Riyadh's options to respond to the Houthi-backed Ansar Allah group's attack on the kingdom's lifeline.
In a report by writer Zeinab Fattah, the website listed four options for Riyadh to respond to the attack, for which the United States blamed Iran, without providing evidence, while Iran categorically denied the allegations.
1 / wider military intervention in Yemen
The author expects Saudi Arabia to expand its military presence in Yemen if the Houthis are found responsible for the attack, the biggest since the start of the war waged by the kingdom in Yemen five years ago.
The writer pointed out that the devastating war waged by Saudi Arabia on Yemen since 2015 was mostly confined to air strikes without a real presence of its forces on the ground, which hindered her ability in intelligence gathering and negatively affected her ability to hit field targets accurately.
She said that although Saudi Arabia had not yet blamed anyone for the attack on its facilities on Saturday, its fighter jets bombed Houthi militia positions in the northern Yemeni governorates of Saada and al-Jawf a few hours after the strike, indicating that Saudi Arabia might tend to retaliate. Expand its military operations in Yemen to deter the Houthis.
Emily Hawthorne, Middle East and North Africa analyst at Stratfor, Texas, said that if the Houthis were found to be responsible for the attack, the Saudis would have to better target Houthi drones and missiles, which would require a greater military commitment than Saudi Arabia at a time. You want the opposite. "
If speculation that the shelling of the facilities had been confirmed by cruise missiles fired from Iraq was confirmed, Riyadh was expected to spare no effort to pressure Baghdad "to rein in Iranian allies that may be responsible for the attack," it said.
2 / covert operations and cyber attacks
Ryan Bohl, a Middle East analyst at Stratfor, said Saudi Arabia was likely to use covert operations and cyber warfare in the short term to respond to its attacks.
Fawaz Girgis, a professor of Middle East policy at the London School of Economics, said: "The United States and Saudi Arabia have long been trying to undermine Iran's security, intelligence and missile programs, with no indication that these tactics are effective in reducing Iran's capabilities."
Saudi Arabia may use Israeli anti-aircraft technology to protect its oil facilities and sensitive infrastructure, Hawthorne said.
3 / Negotiations with the Houthis
According to the author, an agreement with the Houthis to end the war, which has become difficult to achieve, is the best option for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the long run.
The war that the coalition has begun to support the legitimate government and defeat the Houthis has left other conflicts between Yemeni forces backed by both sides of the coalition Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates threatening Yemen's unity, while the Houthis focus on targeting the Saudi depth.
A peace agreement that would satisfy all sides would enable the kingdom to withdraw from Yemen and end the scourge of war, she said.
The website quoted Peter Salisbury, an adviser to the International Crisis Group, not excluded that negotiations with the Houthis lead to differences between them and the Iranian shepherd. "The Houthis are not a purely Iranian agent and they continue to follow a deeply rooted agenda in the community," Salisbury said.
The administration is trying to negotiate with the Houthis to end the war that has caused the world's biggest humanitarian crisis, and the Trump administration is trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to negotiate with Houthi leaders to reach a peace deal that will end the war, the Wall Street Journal reported.
4 / Open military confrontation
Ryan Bohl, a Middle East analyst at the Stratfor Center, ruled out Saudi Arabia resorting to an open military confrontation with Iran in response to the targeting of its oil facilities.
He said that while asserting the impossibility of a military confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran is not possible, military confrontation is unlikely to be Riyadh's preferred choice, as any uncalculated confrontation between the two sides could trigger a war in the region in which Iran would use its arms in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
The website quoted remarks by US Senator Lindsey Graham in which he said that the United States should strike Iran oil facilities if the Iranian regime continues its "provocative" actions as he put it.
The writer concluded that the option of a military strike may not find a listening ear from US President Donald Trump, who does not want to be drawn into new crises in the Middle East.