The Lawfare Podcast: The Attack in Saudi Arabia

Jen Patja, Benjamin Wittes, Gregory D. Johnsen, Suzanne Maloney, Scott R. Anderson
Tuesday, September 17, 2019, 12:00 PM

Tensions in the Middle East are at a high point. Over the weekend, large Saudi oil facilities were attacked. The Yemeni Houthis jumped in to claim responsibility. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran. President Trump tweets that the U.S. is 'locked and loaded' and ready for potential response. But what has actually happened in the Arabian Peninsula? What does the future hold for conflict between the Saudis and the Iranians? And what role will the United States have?

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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Tensions in the Middle East are at a high point. Over the weekend, large Saudi oil facilities were attacked. The Yemeni Houthis jumped in to claim responsibility. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran. President Trump tweets that the U.S. is 'locked and loaded' and ready for potential response. But what has actually happened in the Arabian Peninsula? What does the future hold for conflict between the Saudis and the Iranians? And what role will the United States have?


To talk it all through, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Gregory Johnsen, a researcher on Yemen and Middle East conflict; Suzanne Maloney, a Brookings senior fellow whose research centers on Iran; Samantha Gross, a fellow in the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate; and Scott R. Anderson, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and senior editor at Lawfare. They talked about what we know about what happened over the weekend, the geopolitical context for the attack, potential American responses, and the legal authorities that could justify American military action.



Jen Patja is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.
Benjamin Wittes is editor in chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of several books.
Gregory D. Johnsen is a nonresident fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and the author of “The Last Refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda, and America’s War in Arabia.”
Suzanne Maloney studies Iran, the political economy of the Persian Gulf and Middle East energy policy. A former U.S. State Department policy advisor, she has also counseled private companies on Middle East issues. Maloney recently published a book titled "Iran's Long Reach: Iran as a Pivotal State in the Muslim World."
Scott R. Anderson is a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and a Senior Fellow in the National Security Law Program at Columbia Law School. He previously served as an Attorney-Adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State and as the legal advisor for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.

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