Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) urged the United States to stay out of the ongoing dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran following a recent attack on two oil processing facilities in Saudi Arabia during a Thursday interview.
“If you add Saudi Arabia’s military budget to all their allies, all these Gulf Sheikhdoms that surround Saudi Arabia, they spend eight times more on military than Iran. So they’re more than capable of holding off Iran, retaliating against Iran. That’s the question – why does it always have to be the U.S., why do we always have to get involved?” Paul told the One America News Network.
Saudi Arabia has an annual defense expenditure of $67.6 billion, with its ally the United Arab Emirates spending $23.4 billion. However, a growing rift between the two Arab monarchies may make the formation of a united front against Iran less likely. Saudi Arabia is already engaged in a bitter feud with another powerful Gulf neighbor, Qatar.
The Houthis, a Yemeni militant group backed by Iran, claimed responsibility for the drone attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais in eastern Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of directly sponsoring the attack, refuting the notion that it originated in Yemen.
“The attack was launched from the north, and was unquestionably sponsored by Iran,” said Col. Turki al-Maliki, a Saudi military spokesman.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said Iran will be held responsible regardless of whether it directly participated in the attack or merely enabled it through its assistance to the Houthis.
“This was an Iranian attack. It’s not the case that you can subcontract out the devastation of five percent of the world’s global energy supply and think that you can absolve yourself of responsibilities,” Pompeo stated.
President Donald Trump is consequently said to be currently considering a form of retaliation against Iran, but is leaning towards diplomatic rather than military action. Sen. Paul’s close relationship with the President is likely to be an important influence on his ultimate decision.