Pompeo: Iran-Orchestrated Attack on Saudi Airport Threatens Americans

Iranian forces launch second drone attack in two weeks

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo / Getty Images
June 24, 2019

An Iran-orchestrated attack conducted Sunday against Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport directly threatens Americans living in the country and marks the second time in less than two weeks that Tehran’s terror forces have used drones to attack American allies, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

At least one person was killed and more than 20 wounded in the strike, which the United States has determined was carried out by Iranian-armed Houthi rebel forces operating from Yemen.

The strike is just another flashpoint in an increasingly violent standoff between the Trump administration and Iran, which announced on Monday that it would sue the United States in international court in response to a series of cyber attacks carried out by the Trump administration as payback for the recent downing of an unmanned American drone.

The situation in Yemen, where Iran has armed and trained Houthi rebels, represents just another front in the proxy war between the Islamic Republic and U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia. Top U.S officials, including Pompeo, said the Trump administration would not hesitate to defend its interests and American citizens stationed abroad.

"These Iranian-backed attacks are unacceptable, and all the more reprehensible given that they targeted innocent civilians," Pompeo said on Monday. "They also put Americans living, working, and transiting through Saudi Arabia at risk."

"We call on the Iran-backed Houthis to end these reckless and provocative attacks on behalf of the Iranian regime," Pompeo said. "The Houthis should engage constructively in the U.N.-led political process to end the conflict and adhere to the commitments they made in Sweden."

Pompeo emphasized that these attacks are directly authorized by Iran and are being conducted as part of the Islamic Republic’s campaign to foment unrest in the region.

"Some want to portray the Yemen conflict as an isolated civil war, without a clear aggressor," Pompeo said.  "It is neither. It is spreading conflict and humanitarian disaster that was conceived of and perpetuated by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The regime has spent years funneling cash, weapons, and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps support to the Houthis. With every attack conducted by an Iranian proxy, the regime tacks another day onto its 40-year track record of spreading death and chaos in the region, and beyond."

The Trump administration, Pompeo added, "will continue our pressure campaign until Iran stops its torrent of violence and meets diplomacy with diplomacy."

In the days since Iran downed an American drone and threatened to destroy an American plane carrying at least 35 people on board, the Trump administration has increased sanctions on Iran and conducted a series of cyber attacks that Tehran claims ended in failure.

Iranian leaders claimed on Monday that these cyber attacks were unsuccessful and said they would be filing suit against the United States in international court.

Seyed Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, disclosed on Monday that Tehran will "take legal action against the U.S.," according to comments carried in Iran’s state-controlled media.

"Our defense capabilities are high and it is unlikely to expect them to do anything special," Mousavi was quoted as saying, adding that the disclosure in the American press of these cyber operations "can serve as the base for our legal procedure against the U.S."

Iranian military leaders have bragged about the attack on the American drone last week, warning that Tehran has the capability to conduct similar attacks in the future.

"The enemy has dispatched the most advanced and complex surveillance planes to a forbidden zone," Iranian Navy commander Hossein Khanzadi was quoted as saying on Monday.

"All the world saw the downing of this unmanned aerial vehicle. I say with confidence that this crushing response can always be repeated and the enemy knows this," Khanzadi said. "Relying on Revolutionary youth, we have reached a point where we can stand on our own feet, provide the region with security, and push enemies back from the region."