Atlantic Council press call on Saudi Aramco attacks

Expert analysis

Following the September 14 attack on two Saudi Aramco facilities, Atlantic Council experts Kirsten Fontenrose, Phillip Cornell, Ellen Wald, Jean-Francois Seznec, and Randolph Bell unpack the latest developments and offer insight into the ramifications for global energy markets, regional security, and the anticipated Aramco IPO.

The Council regularly holds press and members calls on breaking news stories. To be invited to our next press call, please contact [email protected] to be added to our list.

Listen to highlights from the press call

Why now, Iran?

Kirsten Fontenrose and Jean Francois Seznec respond.

MBS is between a rock and a hard place, how will the Saudis respond?

Ellen Wald gives her take.

Iran isn’t prepared for a war and can’t afford it anyway.

Kirsten Fontenrose, Director of the Council’s Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative .

Phillip Cornell looks for an exit, but the warpath doesn’t seem to have off-ramps.

Analysis from IranSource

Implications for energy markets

Council experts in the news

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Wed, Sep 25, 2019

How to build a Gulf coalition to counter-Iranian regime aggression

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and guided missile cruiser Normandy operate in the Arabian Sea conducting maritime security operations (Reuters) American efforts to build a maritime coalition in the Gulf to counter Iranian regime efforts to impede the free flow of shipping through the Strait of Hormuz have proven difficult and time consuming, but […]

IranSource by John Miller

Maritime Security Security & Defense

Tue, Sep 24, 2019

Rouhani’s plan a reason to be hopeful?

Rouhani’s proposal for peace will be rejected as outlandish, but it is a sign that Tehran may recognize that its attack on Abqaiq was an overstep.

New Atlanticist by Kirsten Fontenrose

Conflict Iran

Mon, Sep 23, 2019

De-escalating the Iran crisis via a 31-year-old UN resolution

The roots of the current crisis in the Persian Gulf go back more than three decades to a devastating war between Iran and Iraq. So does a potential face-saving way to begin to de-escalate that crisis.

IranSource by Barbara Slavin

Iran Iraq

Fri, Sep 20, 2019

After Aramco attacks, China’s Middle East interests are at stake

The attack on Saudi Arabia could be another factor that leads to a more robust approach to China protecting its Middle East interests.

IranSource by Jonathan Fulton

China Iran

Thu, Sep 19, 2019

The logic of Iran’s attack on Saudi Arabia

While previously mere threats against the safety of shipping were enough to send tremors through oil markets and spook past US presidents, Iranian leaders have seemed powerless to respond to the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign.

New Atlanticist by Henry Rome and Robert Johnston

Geopolitics & Energy Security Iran

Thu, Sep 19, 2019

Trump’s Iran policy is widening the battlefield

The attack on the Aramco facility illustrated the latest salvo in a dangerous new normal that has come about in the Middle East: a constant widening and deepening of the conflict between an Iranian-led axis and the United States and its allies.

IranSource by Borzou Daragahi

Conflict Security & Defense

Wed, Sep 18, 2019

What the Abqaiq attack should teach us about critical infrastructure

The precision of the aerial attack on Abqaiq, whether it originated in Iran or outside it, shows both a willingness to target strategic critical infrastructure and a capability for extreme precision.

MENASource by Thomas S. Warrick

Crisis Management Geopolitics & Energy Security

Tue, Sep 17, 2019

Talks in Riyadh on Iran: What happens next?

Trump is more than likely hoping that Saudi officials agree to economic pressure on Iran, but oppose an all-out war.

New Atlanticist by Kirsten Fontenrose

Iran Saudi Arabia
Putin Saudi Arabia

Tue, Sep 17, 2019

He’s serious: Putin offers to sell air defense missiles to Saudi Arabia

While Iran’s president and foreign minister laughed at the Russian president’s statement, Putin offer should been seen as a serious one.

New Atlanticist by Mark N. Katz

Iran Missile Defense

Tue, Sep 17, 2019

Fujairah and the encirclement of Saudi oil production by Iran

The latest attacks on the Arab Gulf oil industry seem to be part of a strategy by Iran to warn the Gulf states that it can block all oil shipments, if it sees fit. One of the warnings was the attack on three tankers at anchor off Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman.

EnergySource by Jean-Francois Seznec

Geopolitics & Energy Security Iran

Sat, Sep 14, 2019

After Houthi drone attack, everyone should take a deep breath

The ten-drone attack on Aramco’s Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia on September 14 is a sign that the Houthis suffer from false confidence. Snubbing talks and launching attacks is not a way to garner sympathy from the United States or the international community.

New Atlanticist by Kirsten Fontenrose

Geopolitics & Energy Security Saudi Arabia

Mon, Sep 16, 2019

Can global energy markets withstand the attack on Saudi oil?

Atlantic Council experts react to the September 14 attacks on Saudi oil facilities and what it means for global energy markets and the wider region.

New Atlanticist by David A. Wemer

Geopolitics & Energy Security Iran

Mon, Sep 16, 2019

From overtures for US talks to threats of war with Iran

Rejected again and embarrassed by the escalation in the Persian Gulf his policies have incentivized, Trump is likely to make similar belligerent comments this year and US-Iran relations will only worsen.

IranSource by Barbara Slavin

Iran Politics & Diplomacy

Fri, Aug 23, 2019

The Trump administration’s Iran policy shows meager results

Though there are differences between factions about how to confront the United States, the heavy US pressure on Tehran in recent months has led to a rally-around-the-flag effect as Iranians push back against what many view as a Western imperialism.

IranSource by Holly Dagres

Economic Sanctions Iran

Wed, Aug 21, 2019

Sanctions prompt Iran to remain relevant in the global energy calculus

The Islamic Republic is determined to push back against maximum US pressure. Iran’s actions will not only be disruptive for security of energy transportation through the Gulf but they will also increase the risk of a sudden military escalation.

EnergySource by Sara Bazoobandi

Energy & Environment Energy Markets & Governance

Wed, Aug 14, 2019

Is Iran’s president getting ready to step down?

Although a Rouhani resignation under the immense pressure caused by economic woes and the hardliners’ constant attacks on him remains a possibility, it is unlikely.

IranSource by Shahir Shahidsaless

Iran Political Reform

Sun, Aug 11, 2019

‘Maximum pressure’ campaign is bolstering Iran’s Revolutionary Guards

The Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and full re-imposition of sanctions against Iran have fueled the nationalist and anti-imperialist ideology that has become central to the mission of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

IranSource by Pia Hecher

Iran Security & Defense

Thu, Aug 1, 2019

Sanctioning Iran’s top diplomat increases chance for US-Iran war

Running out of targets for sanctions, the Trump administration has now put Iran’s chief diplomat on its list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons.

IranSource by Barbara Slavin

Iranian Weapons Materiel on Display at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling

Tue, Jul 30, 2019

Avenues for conflict in the Gulf: A matrix game simulation

Iran faces increasing pressure domestically and internationally, while simultaneously perceiving a historic opportunity to reshape regional dynamics through multiple regional conflicts. This convergence creates conditions that could lead to a strategic shock, and which warrant serious consideration.

Issue Brief by John Watts

Conflict Crisis Management

Sat, Jul 27, 2019

Trump’s Iran moment

President Trump’s maximum pressure and Iran’s escalating responses have increased the risks of conflict. They have also brought a new chance of resolution that may become the most significant test yet of President Trump’s ability to transform his disruptive foreign policy into positive outcomes.

Inflection Points by Frederick Kempe


Mon, Jul 22, 2019

Tensions in the Persian Gulf reflect power struggle inside Iran

Throughout the past four decades, US observers have disagreed about the nature of Iran’s factional politics and some have even questioned whether real differences exist. Rising tensions in the Persian Gulf seem to reflect Iran’s unified reaction to the US “maximum pressure” campaign.

IranSource by Noah Annan


Fri, Jul 19, 2019

Tehran seizes British ships as Gulf pressures intensify

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced that it seized a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19, and a second British-owned tanker was boarded before being released, in the latest escalation over control of one of the world’s most vital energy trade waterways.

New Atlanticist by David A. Wemer

Iran United Kingdom

Fri, Jul 19, 2019

US-Iran tensions reignite following another drone incident

As the number of attacks and close calls continues to climb in the volatile region, risks of wider conflict are mounting and soon could be difficult for all sides to control.

New Atlanticist by David A. Wemer

Drones Iran