Resistance report: Syrian Army takes the initiative in Idlib while Washington blames its failures on Iran again

Resistance report: Syrian Army takes the initiative in Idlib while Washington blames its failures on Iran again

September 20, 2019

By Aram Mirzaei for The Saker Blog

August was an eventful month for the Syrian Army and its allies as the battle for northwestern Syria saw a breakthrough after months of static frontline movements. Just like in the previous 3 years, the month of August has been one accompanied by important victories for Damascus. The Syrian Army managed to break through the jihadist lines at the Khan Sheikhoun front and from there steamrolled through the entire frontline, eventually encircling and trapping the jihadist militants in a pocket in northern Hama. Despite counteroffensives launched by Tahrir Al-Sham and their allies from the “Rouse the believers” operations room, the SAA managed to hold on to the newly liberated areas.

With this development, Hama city and Christian towns such as Mhardeh are now safe from the encroaching jihadist threat. This offensive should be expanded now that the Syrian Army still has the initiative, especially with the jihadist morale still shaken by the loss of their doorway into Hama. It is important for Damascus to clear out the remainder of the Latakia province as well as western Aleppo since both these areas are heavily populated and hold strategic value. If Latakia and Aleppo are cleared, then the jihadist threat will be contained to a single province in the country, leaving them pretty much besieged in Idlib as Ankara’s support seems to be fading, as evident by their passiveness during the Syrian Army’s August offensive.

Since the conclusion of the offensive, with a new ceasefire having been declared and expired, the Syrian Army is said to be amassing troops near the Al-Ghaab front in a potential move to completely kick the jihadists out of Hama and thereby finally paving the way for the liberation of Jisr Al-Shughour. This news seems to have been expected by the Jihadists as the Jaysh Al-Izza terrorist outfit has already begun making preparations for the upcoming battle, reportedly sending over 2000 men to the Western Hama countryside. The Syrian Army would do well to be careful here as the key hilltop town of Kabani, overlooking Jisr Al-Shughour still hasn’t been liberated.

Meanwhile, last weekend saw more than half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production go down in flames as the Saudi Aramco oilfields and refineries came under heavy drone attacks. The attacks caused the greatest drop in oil production in history, prompting oil prices to jump 19 percent. If oil prices rise further, the world will inch closer to a global recession, which, among other things, could cost Trump his reelection. Immediately after the attacks, the Yemeni Houthis issued a statement where they took responsibility for the attacks with the movement’s spokesperson General Yahya Sare’e adding that 10 drones were deployed against the sites at Khurais and Abqaiq. “This was one of the largest operations which our forces have carried out deep inside Saudi Arabia. It came after careful intelligence and cooperation with honorable and free people inside Saudi Arabia,” he said without elaboration.

Washington was quick to dismiss the Houthi claim of responsibility when Trump said that Washington has “reason to believe that we know the culprit,” noting that Washington is “locked and loaded depending on verification” and is waiting to “hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack.” The same response was voiced by Pompeo and Lindsey Graham who called for Washington to strike Iran in an attempt to “break the regime’s back”.

Surely Washington understands how embarrassing this debacle is for them. The Saudis have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on purchasing US military equipment and weapons. Equipment and weapons that Washington has spent quite some time claiming is superior to anything else the world has to offer. Last week, a Saudi prince took to twitter and claimed that Saudi Arabia could “destroy Iran in 8 hours”, adding that Iran’s military technology belong to the “museum”.

That same claimed superior weaponry failed to stop a single attack that took out half of the kingdom’s oil production. This makes me wonder if they’re laying the blame on Iran in order to cover up the even greater embarrassment, that American and Saudi military forces and their networks of advanced air defenses never detected the Yemeni drones that were launched on Saturday to strike oil facilities deep inside Saudi Arabia, proving futile the billions of dollars that the Riyadh regime has spent on them to protect its territories. What message does this send to US vassals around the world? In an attempt to downplay the uselessness of the Patriot system, Pompeo, sounding surprised by the vastness of the operation, said: “This is an attack of a scale we’ve just not seen before.”

Really? Never seen before? So the thousands of drone strikes that Washington has launched across the Islamic world is something that they’ve never seen before?

In any case, Pompeo immediately traveled to Riyadh to assure Washington’s vassals that everything is under control, and to discuss “potential responses”, calling the incident “an act of war”. By now, this blame game has become routine, Washington keeps using the same miserable strategy of intimidation, thinking it will work at the 500th attempt.

So here we are again, another dubious incident in which Tehran is held responsible, without any evidence presented. Of course, Tehran didn’t just stand idly by while Washington made these threats, both Ayatollah Khamenei and foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif issued separate responses, vehemently denying Iran’s role in the attack and warning that any attack on Iran would spark an all out war. Khamenei also went on to talk about the importance of not falling for the failed US maximum pressure campaign, which this is all about. Speaking on Tuesday, Khamenei said entering talks with the US under the current circumstances would be tantamount to surrendering to Washington’s pressure campaign. “Negotiating would mean Washington imposing its demands on Tehran. It would also be a manifestation of the victory of America’s maximum pressure campaign,” he noted.

Thus, the Islamic Republic has correctly calculated that Washington’s maximum pressure campaign is nothing but a bluff to intimidate Iran into entering negotiations. Khamenei said “I had already said that America’s objective of [pursuing] talks is to impose [its demands], but they have become so insolent that they even speak about this openly.”

“The US regime is after making its domestic rivals and the Europeans accept this as a definitive policy that maximum pressure is the only way to confront Iran,” added Ayatollah Khamenei. “Their objective in [offering to hold] talks is to prove to everyone that the policy of maximum pressure has yielded results, and that Iranian authorities were forced to come to the negotiating table despite what they said.”

The most probable conclusion is that there won’t be a war. Washington knows very well that it cannot afford a regional war, especially not now when Washington has been exposed for not being able to defend its vassals. If indeed Iran was behind this attack, then one can imagine that if a single drone strike took out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production, imagine what an all-out war would result in for Washington and its vassals. The consequences of this debacle can be very severe for Washington in the future as Moscow has already offered the Arab states to purchase Russian weaponry instead, slowly outmanoeuvring Washington as was the case with Turkey and the S-400 deal. It is a real pathetic mess that Washington has got itself into. Washington’s own allies won’t even back their lies. “We are not aware of any information that points to Iran,” Japan’s Defense Minister Taro Kono told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday.

“We believe the Houthis carried out the attack based on the statement claiming responsibility,” he added, referring to the Yemeni group incorporated into the armed forces fighting back a Saudi-led war on Yemen.

Washington’s list of options grows thin, the US better retract its words, repent and return to the nuclear accord that it has violated or see itself fall even further into decay as Washington’s days of being the sole unipolar power that everyone used to fear are quickly fading away.

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طوى ترامب صفحة بولتون… فماذا عن الشرق الأوسط؟

سبتمبر 20, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– في صحيفتين شديدتي التعبير عن مناخ الباحثين والمفكرين والنخب المشاركة في صناعة القرار الأميركي مقالتان شديدتي الأهمية، واحدة لخبير الأمن والاستراتيجية المعروف باتزانه ومكانته ستيفن كوك نشرها في الفورين بوليسي، والثانية افتاحية لوول ستريت جورنال، والمقالتان تتناولان عملية ضرب مجمع أرامكو كمفصل هام في تحديد مستقبل الدور الأميركي في الشرق الأوسط، وفقا لتسمية الأميركيين لمنطقتنا. والتقاطع بين المقالتين واضح ومحدد ودقيق، وهو أنه من اللحظة التي لم يأخذ الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب فيها بنصيحة جون بولتون بالردّ على إسقاط إيران لطائرة التجسس الأميركية العملاقة، حدث أمران، الأول هو تبلور قرار ترامب بطرد بولتون، والثاني هو قرار إيران بالمضي قدماً في التصعيد، والسؤال الذي طرحته الوول ستريت علناً تحت عنوان هل يندم ترامب على طرد بولتون ويعود لنصائحه ولو بغيابه فيقرر المواجهة؟ طرحه ستيفن كوك في مقالته بصورة أشدّ عمقاً تحت عنوان، كيفية التصرف الأميركي بعد ضربة أرامكو لن تقرر فقط مستقبل السياسة الأميركية في المنطقة، بل مستقبل الوجود الأميركي في المنطقة، وتالياً مستقبل المنطقة، كما يقول عنوان مقال ستيفن كوك في الفورين بوليسي، هذه هي اللحظة التي تقرّر مستقبل الشرق الأوسط .

– المقالتان منشورتان قبل إعلان الرئيس ترامب عن تسمية مستشاره الجديد للأمن القومي روبرت أوبراين وما يتضمنه الاختيار من قطيعة مع نظريات بولتون، وإشهار لبدء عهد جديد يقوم على التفاوض، والذهاب إلى الأمم المتحدة، والابتعاد عن خيار المواجهة مع إيران. كذلك تعليق بولتون على ضربة أرامكو المتوافق مع مضمون المقالتين في القول إن عدم تجاوب ترامب مع دعوات الرد على إسقاط الطائرة كان السبب في تشجيع إيران على المضي في خيار التصعيد وصولاً لعملية أرامكو، سابق لجواب ترامب الضمني عليه بطبيعة اختياره أوبراين للخلف، وهو الآتي من عالم التفاوض والتحكيم والتعاقدات الاقتصادية. وبما قاله ترامب عن ترجيح خيار التعامل الدبلوماسي مع عملية أرامكو، ما يعني أن الأجوبة على الأسئلة التي طرحتها الصحيفتان قد تمت.

– ترامب ليس نادماً على طرد بولتون ولا على عدم الأخذ بنصيحته. هذا هو الجواب على سؤال الوول ستريت، والأهم هو الجواب على ما مهدت له الفورين بوليسي من توقعات لما سيترتب على كيفية التعامل مع عملية أرامكو. فستيفن كوك يقول في تلك المقالة، إن ثلاثة مصالح أساسية رسمت سياسة الولايات المتحدة تجاه الشرق الأوسط وتحكمت بها على مدى سبعة عقود وهي: ضمان التدفق الحر لموارد الطاقة من المنطقة، والمساعدة في الحفاظ على الأمن الإسرائيلي، والتأكد من عدم قدرة أي دولة أو مجموعة من الدول على تحدّي القوة الأميركية في الطريقة التي من شأنها أن تعرض المصالح الأخرى للخطر . ويسرد كوك محطات كحربي الخليج في عهد كل من جورج بوش الأب وجورج بوش الإبن، كمثال على محركات هذه السياسة، ويعتبر كوك أن ما جرى في الخليج منذ شهور يتصل بالمحاور المحركة للسياسة الأميركية، النفط وأمن إسرائيل وتحدي الهيبة الأميركية. والطرف المعني هنا هو إيران، وابتعاد واشنطن عن الرد سيعني شيئاً واحداً، وهو أن الأساس المنطقي الكامل للاستثمار الأميركي في الشرق الأوسط على مدار السبعين سنة الماضية قد تغيّر . وبالتالي يجب على الولايات المتحدة أن تحزم أمتعتها وتعود إلى الوطن .

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Le Monde Describes Yemeni Attack on Saudi’s Aramco as Terrible Humiliation to Bin Salman

Source

September 19, 2019

The French Newspaper Le Monde considered that the raid on two major Saudi facilities, which Riyadh ‘blamed on Tehran’, was a humiliation and an affront to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the nationalist brigade.

In a report by veteran reporter Benjamin Bart, the paper said Saudi Arabia is now embarrassed, and hopes today that the propaganda film it published in 2017 describing its overwhelming response to Tehran, was not filmed at all.

Bart says the video he has seen so far has seen more than 1.5 million people mimic a video game that Saudi Arabia is occupying Iran and destroying its military bases, before Revolutionary Guards commanders can confront invading forces or fire any bullet, all with cheers from the Iranian people and welcoming King Salman’s soldiers.

Bart said that the Saudi press at the time described the scenario of this propaganda video as “realistic”, starting with a speech by Mohammed bin Salman, saying: “We will not wait for the arrival of war in Saudi Arabia, we will ensure that the battle is taking place inside Iran itself.”

Terrible humiliation

Under the title “Terrible Humiliation,” Bart said that the tone of this film was characterized by recklessness, chauvinism and impulsivity, which revealed a hardening of Saudi diplomacy against Iran, and its aggressive stiffness, a turn embodied by the young crown prince, the architect of the war on Yemen, who believes that confronting Iran is necessary because of Intervention in Arab affairs, according to the author.

But less than two years after the publication of the film, the reality is striking, but contrary to what the writers of the screenplay had coveted, the Saudi air defense system could not respond to an attack on the Kingdom’s largest refinery, Abqaiq and the nearby Khuwairis oil field. On Saturday, September 14, it was a terrible insult to the crown prince, the patron of Saudi nationalism, the writer said.

“This is a severe blow to the credibility of Saudi Arabia in the face of Westerners,” Bart was quoted as saying by a well-known foreign businessman in Riyadh.

The operation, which the US State Department has accused Iran of being behind and halving Saudi oil production, is a real pretext for war.

However, Bart says Saudi Arabia does not really want to go to war with its ‘big enemy’, and, apart from the video’s promises, bin Salman seems to have gone into hiding for the time being and refraining from pointing fingers at Tehran, even if no one is in Riyadh. Suspected of being involved.

Sizing bin Salman

“What happened on Saturday was a big shock and an insult to Saudi Arabia,” Bart told a Saudi journalist. “No one imagined that Iran would dare to strike. Bin Salman is in an unenviable position. He finds himself alone today against Iran.”

Neither the United States wants to go to war with Iran, nor Riyadh’s other ally, Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi media are simply counting the phone calls Saudi Arabia has received since the day of the attack, but in fact no country is ready to engage in a confrontation with Iran. Jasmine Farouk, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment.

Analysts do not expect the US military response to go beyond an electronic attack or deploy more anti-missile systems. In fact, according to one expert in Saudi affairs, “Bin Salman is in a strategic dilemma, because he does not have the necessary resources for his political ambitions,” according to Barth’s report.

In the end, Bart questioned whether King Salman would take this opportunity to reframe his crown prince and curtail his role, noting that what King Salman would say in this regard will give an idea of the extent of weakness suffered by Mohammed bin Salman.

Source: Websites

Trump lacks power to use US military for S Arabia’s interests: Gabbard

2020 Democratic presidential hopeful US Representative for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district Tulsi Gabbard speaks at the Wing Ding Dinner on August 9, 2019 in Clear Lake, Iowa. (Photo by AFP)

2020 Democratic presidential hopeful US Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district Tulsi Gabbard speaks at the Wing Ding Dinner on August 9, 2019 in Clear Lake, Iowa. (Photo by AFP)

 

Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:13PM

Congresswoman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has lashed out at President Donald Trump for his response to the recent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil refineries, saying Trump lacks constitutional power to use the US military to serve Saudi interests.

“The Constitution does not give the president the power to unilaterally use our military for Saudi Arabia’s interests to go to war nor does it give him the power to do so without the express consent of Congress,” the 38-year-old member of the House of Representatives from Hawaii told The Hill on Tuesday.

“If I were president now, I would make very clear that we will not use our military to further the interests of Saudi Arabia or any other country,” she added.

Gabbard, who served in combat zones in Iraq as a member of the Hawaii National Guard between 2004 and 2005, went on to emphasize that there needs to be concrete evidence before the US takes any military action against Iran or any other country.

Gabbard accused the US president a day earlier of trying to “pimp out” the American military over the recent attack on Saudi oil refineries.

‘We shouldn’t attack anybody on behalf of S Arabia’

Also on Tuesday, Republican Senator Josh Hawley called on the Trump administration to exercise restraint following the attack and said the US should be mindful of protecting its own interests.

“We shouldn’t attack anybody on behalf of Saudi Arabia for Saudi Arabia’s national interests,” Hawley said during an appearance on Hill.TV.

Hawley argued that Washington should instead look to “preserve the security of the American people and the prosperity of our middle class.”

Saudi Aramco oil facilities came under a drone attack over the weekend and the strike knocked out more than half the kingdom’s production.

Yemen’s Houthi fighters have claimed responsibility for the attack, but the United States has rejected their claim with Trump saying that Iran appears to be responsible for the strike.

Following a briefing from his military and intelligence advisers at the White House on Monday, Trump was asked whether Iran was behind the attack, Trump said, “It’s certainly looking that way at this moment and we’ll let you know. As soon as we find out definitively we’ll let you know but it does look that way.”

A day earlier, Trump said the United States was “locked and loaded” for a possible response to the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

Trump said that Washington has a “reason to believe that we know” who is responsible for the attacks carried out against the kingdom’s key oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais on Saturday.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put the blame for the operation on Iran, claiming, “Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia” and that “there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

Tehran, however, dismissed the allegation, saying Washington seems to be shifting from a failed campaign of “maximum pressure” to one of “maximum lying” and “deceit” against the Islamic Republic.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet that “US & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory.”

Yemen said it used 10 drones for Saturday’s operation, which was one of their largest retaliatory attacks ever inside the kingdom.

The Yemeni army has said the raids were carried out on the back of an intelligence operation and in cooperation with “certain honorable and freedom-seeking individuals within Saudi Arabia.”

Source: Press TV

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Yemeni Killer Blow to House of Saud

Image result for Yemeni Killer Blow to House of Saud
Finian Cunningham
September 18, 2019

The Yemeni rebels’ drone blitz on the “nerve center” of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry was a devastating counter-offensive which potentially could end the four-year war in short order. What is even more catastrophic for the Saudi monarchy – especially the ambitious Crown Prince – is that the Houthi rebels have wielded the ultimate power to crash the kingdom’s oil economy.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) was the main architect of the disastrous Saudi war on Yemen. His military hard-man display was meant to consolidate his rise to power as heir to the Saudi throne. It was a calculation based on the blood of the Yemeni people. But now the war has gone from a callous game to a far-more dangerous threat to the House of Saud’s seat of power. If the Saudi oil economy is put at severe risk, then the lifeline for the monarchy is liable to be cut.

After last weekend’s spectacular air strike on the main oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia – northeast of the capital Riyadh, some 1,000 kms from Yemen – the Houthi military leadership is warning that more deeply-penetrating aerial attacks are on the way. The Yemeni rebels have demonstrated that nowhere in Saudi Arabia is safe.

Saudi air defenses and their multi-billion-dollar US Patriot anti-missile systems have been rendered useless against an-ever increasing arsenal of more sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operated out of Yemen. UN experts reckon that the Houthis’ UAV-X drone has a range of up to 1,500 kms, which means that all of the Saudi oil infrastructure located in the Eastern Province near the Persian Gulf is a viable target.

Last weekend’s air strikes carried out with 10 drones, according to the Houthis, caused Saudi oil output to shut down by nearly half. The main target – the Abqaiq refinery – processes some 70 per cent of all Saudi crude destined for export. It is not clear when the processing plant can be restored to normal function. It may take weeks or even months. But if the Yemeni rebels can inflict that extent of damage in one air raid, it is not hard to foresee how the Saudi oil-dependent economy could conceivably be brought to a crippling standstill.

“The only option for the Saudi government is to stop attacking us,” said a Houthi military spokesman following the drone strikes. The rebels also warned foreign workers in Saudi Arabia associated with the country’s oil industry to vacate.

The Yemenis have a gun to the House of Saud’s head. It must give the rebels great satisfaction to finally have the Saudi monarchy in their cross-hairs after four years of Yemen suffering relentless aerial bombardment and siege by the US-backed Saudi military. The Saudi-led war on its southern neighbor – the poorest country in the Arab region – was always an outrageous aggression under the guise of supporting the return of a corrupt crony who had been ousted by the Yemenis in early 2015. Up to 100,000 people have been killed – most of them from the indiscriminate bombing campaign by Saudi (and Emirati) warplanes supplied and armed by the US, Britain and France. Millions face starvation in what the UN calls the worst humanitarian crisis for many years.

The Saudi rulers, Western governments and media have tried to obscure the genocidal war on Yemen as a “proxy war” involving Iran, as if Tehran is the instigator of subverting Saudi Arabia from the south. Iran backs the Houthis politically, and perhaps also militarily more recently, but any involvement by Tehran is a reaction to the initial Western-backed Saudi aggression against Yemen.

Claims by US and Saudi officials that Iran is responsible for the latest air strikes on Saudi Arabia’s vital oil industry are more of the same obfuscation. Such muddying of the waters is an attempt to distract from the central point that the Houthis are retaliating with the legitimate right of self-defense after years of merciless slaughter inflicted on their people by the Western-backed Saudi coalition.

There’s another urgent reason for why the Saudi rulers and the US are trying to blame Iran for the latest drone attacks on the Saudi oil industry. If admitted that the air raids were carried out primarily by the Houthis – perhaps even with Iranian drone technology – then that admission points to the complete vulnerability of the Saudi oil economy and the very power structure of the monarchial rulers.

A hint of the trepidation being felt in Riyadh are reports that the latest air strikes have rattled stock markets for Saudi petrochemical companies. Worse, it is also reported that the attacks may delay the planned stock market listing of Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company. Worse still, the valuation of the company may be slashed due to the perceived risk from further Yemeni air strikes.

The planned Initial Public Offering (IPO) of Aramco – whereby the Saudi state is selling a portion of the company to private investors – has been one of the most talked about events in recent years among international business. The IPO which is due to be launched next year has been called the “biggest-ever” stock market sell-off.

In an extensive interview with Bloomberg in October last year, the Saudi Crown Prince, MbS, boasted that it was the “biggest IPO in human history”. He claimed then that Aramco’s total valuation was worth $2 trillion. If the Saudis sell off a 5 per cent share in the company, they are expecting to raise $100 billion in cash. The Aramco IPO is central to MbS’ ambitious diversification master plan for the entire Saudi economy, known as Vision 2030. The capital raised from the Aramco sell-off is intended to catalyze private sector employment and technological innovation in the oil-dependent kingdom whose budget is unsustainably propping up government-sector jobs and welfare largesse to prevent the young population of Saudis rebelling against the sclerotic House of Saud.

After the Houthis’ devastating air attacks on the Saudi oil heartland – the crown jewels of the kingdom – potential investors are now reportedly looking warily at the future risk of Aramco. Valuation of the company in the aftermath of the Yemeni drone strikes has been slashed by some estimates to $300 billion – that’s down by 85 per cent from the previous aspired-for $2,000 billion. If that downgrade holds or worsens with future Houthi attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure, then the capital raised from an IPO could shrink from the $100 billion projected by the Crown Prince to $15 billion. In short, his Vision 2030 plan is down the pan.

It must be alarming to the young Saudi potentate that US President Donald Trump has begun to play down any retaliation against Iran, saying that he doesn’t want to be drawn into a war.

That means the Saudi monarchs are on their own and at the mercy of the Houthis and what they do next. The downfall of the scheming Crown Prince evokes a Shakespearian drama of treachery.

See also

Gulf War Report: Houthi Strikes Shut Down Half Of Saudi Arabia Oil Production

South Front

Saudi Arabia continues to suffer consequences of its unsuccessful invasion of Yemen.

On September 14, the Armed Forces of the Houthi government carried out a successful strike on facilities of Saudi Arabia’s oil giant Saudi Aramco in Buqayq and Khurais. In an official statement, a spokesperson for the Houthis, Brig. Gen. Yahya Sari, said that the attack, dubbed Operation Deterrent Balance 2, was a response to the Saudi aggression.

According to the Houthis, the strike was carried out with ten suicide unmanned aerial vehicles. Both targets are located in more than 1,100km from the Houthi-controlled part of northwestern Yemen. Therefore, they likely used their long-range Samad-3 UAVs in the attack. Later, photos appeared suggesting that the Houthis also used at least one missile, most likely the Qods cruise missile.

The strike caused large fires and disrupted Saudi Arabia’s oil production and export. The attack reportedly impacted 5 million barrels per day of oil production — about half the kingdom’s current output.

On the same day, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran claiming that the Islamic Republic has already conducted about ‘100 attacks’ on Saudi Arabia. Senator Lindsey Graham even sated that the US should carry out military strikes on Iran’s oil facilities.

US President Donald Trump also phoned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and offered help to the Kingdom in ensuring its security. Trump added that the attack on the Saudi oil facilities could be detrimental to the US and the global economy.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded to the accusations by denouncing them as lies.

The conflict in Yemen became a visual demonstration that a large military budget is not enough to achieve military victories. Saudi Arabia’s supposed “short victorious war” turned into the prolonged conflict, which the Kingdom is apparently loosing. However, Saudi Arabia cannot withdraw its troops from the country and accept a peace deal with the Houthi government because such decision will cause a strong political crisis inside the kingdom and will undermine the weakening positions of the royal house even further.

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Attacks On Major Saudi Oil Installations Show Urgent Need For Peace With Yemen

Source

Ten drones controlled by Yemeni Houthi forces hit two major Saudi oil installations last night and caused several large fires.


bigger – videoThe Abqaiq (also Babqaiq) oil processing facility is 60 km (37 miles) southwest of Aramco’s Dhahran headquarters.

The oil processing plant handles crude from the world’s largest conventional oilfield, the supergiant Ghawar, and for export to terminals Ras Tanura – the world’s biggest offshore oil loading facility – and Juaymah. It also pumps westwards across the kingdom to Red Sea export terminals.

The oil and gas conditioning plant in Abqaiq is the largest of the world. It sits at the center of Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas infrastructure.


biggerAbqaiq processes 6.8 million barrels of crude oil each day. More than two thirds of all Saudi oil and gas production runs through it. It is not clear yet how much of the widespread facility was destroyed.


biggerThe second target was a processing plant near Khurais 190 km (118 miles) further southwest. It lies within the countries second largest oil field. Both installations are more than 1,000 km (600 miles) from Yemen.

Saudi Arabia does not have air defenses that protect its oil facilities from attacks from the south.


bigger

Aᴍɪʀ @AmirIGM – 11:34 UTC · Sep 14, 2019This graphic shows Saudi Air Defences around the Abqaiq oil facilities that were struck early Saturday. The drones were well within PAC-2 range, but outside Hawk range. It’s possible that the low-flying or the drones’ small size and composite materials helped it avoid detection.

PAC-2 are older U.S. made air defense systems which can not ‘see’ small drones or cruise missiles.

Satellite images show significant smoke coming from Abqaiq.


biggerThere is smoke coming from four additional oil facilities but it may be from emergency oil flaring that is now necessary because the processing facilities further downstream are blocked or destroyed.

Saudi Arabia said that the fires are under control. Video shot this morning shows that they continue.

In one video taken last night on the ground near the facility one can hear the high pitched noise of a drone motor and then an explosion. In other videos automatic gunfire can be heard. These were probably attempts by guardsmen to take down drones.

But drones may not have been the sole cause of the incident. Last night a Kuwaiti fishermen recorded the noise of a cruise missile or some jet driven manned or unmanned aircraft coming from Iraq. Debris found on the ground in Saudi Arabia seems to be from an Soviet era KH-55 cruise missile or from a Soumar, an Iranian copy of that design. The Houthi have shown cruise missiles, likely from Iran, with a similar design (see below). After an attack on Saudi oil installations in August there were accusations that at least some of the attacks came from Iraq. Iran was accused of having been involved in that attack. While this sounds unlikely it is not inconceivable.

That attack in August was the checkmate move against the Saudi war on Yemen. As we wrote at that time:

Saudi Arabia finally lost the war on Yemen. It has no defenses against the new weapons the Houthis in Yemen acquired. These weapons threaten the Saudis’ economic lifelines.

Saudi Arabia has nothing that could stop mass attacks by these drones. It would require hundreds of Russian made Pantsyr-S1 and BUK air defense systems to protect Saudi oil installations. There would still be no guarantee that they could not be overwhelmed.

New drones and missiles displayed in July 2019 by Yemen’s Houthi-allied armed forces
biggerThe Houthi armed forces spokesman claimed responsibility for today’s attack:

This operation is one of the largest operations carried out by our forces in the depth of Saudi Arabia and came after a accurate intelligence operation and advance monitoring and cooperation of honorable and free men within the Kingdom.

The claim of cooperation by people in Saudi Arabia will make the Saudi rulers even more paranoid than they usually are. It may well be that the drones were launched from inside Saudi Arabia and that their launch point was far nearer to the target than is publicly assumed.

The spokesman continued:

We promise the Saudi regime that our future operations will expand further and be more painful than ever as long as it continues its aggression and siege.We affirm that our goals bank is expanding day by day and that there is no solution for the Saudi regime except to stop the aggression and siege on our country.

The war on Yemen, launched by the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman in 2015, cost Saudi Arabia several billion dollar per month. The Saudi budget deficit again increased this year and is expected to reach 7% of its GDP.  The country needs fresh money or much higher oil prices.

Saudi Arabia recently renewed plans to sell a share of its state owned oil conglomerate Aramco. Earlier this month the long time Saudi Energy Minister Kalid al-Falih was first demoted and then removed from his position and replaced by Abdulaziz bin Salman, a half-brother of the clown prince:

“The long tradition of the oil minister as a technocrat non-royal has been broken, and the best theory is that departing minister Khalid Al Falih was too resistant to the pace of change pursued by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman,” wrote Paul Sankey, energy analyst with Mizuho.

The removal of Kalid al-Falih ended the nationalist resistance against the selloff of Aramco and the countries wealth.

But who will buy a share of the company when its major installations are not secure but under severe attacks?

The Saudi clown prince will have to make peace with Yemen before he can sell Aramco shares for a decent price. He will have to cough up many billions in reparation payments to Yemen and its people before the Houthi will be willing to make peace.

First Saudi attempts to sue for peace were made two weeks ago. It seems that they asked the Trump administration to work out an agreement with the Houthi:

The Trump administration is preparing to initiate negotiations with Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in an effort to bring the four-year civil war in Yemen to an end, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.The effort is reportedly aimed at convincing Saudi Arabia to take part in secret talks with the rebels in Oman to help broker a cease-fire in the conflict, which has emerged as a front line in the regional proxy war between Riyadh and Tehran.

Nothing has been heard of the initiative since. The Saudis need to move fast to end the war. Unless that happens soon we can expect further escalations and more attacks like the ones earlier today.

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