الغربُ المسعور يطبّقُ وصية عبد العزيز!

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سبتمبر 20, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تتجاهل الدول الغربية أن العدوان السعودي الاماراتي المغطى اميركياً على اليمن، هو سبب القصف الذي تتعرّض له الاهداف العسكرية والاقتصادية في السعودية.

فترهنُ الاحداث المتتابعة في الخليج لمصلحة توجيه الاتهام وحصره بإيران لأنها دولة محورية تعادي النفوذ الاميركي والكيان الإسرائيلي ولها شبكة تحالفات في معظم دول المنطقة، لذلك يتغاضى الأميركيون عن اعلان دولة صنعاء مسؤوليتها عن قصف مصفاتي بقيق وخريص مركزين المسؤولية الحصرية لإيران، وهذه تتمة لمزاعم غربية وسعودية تعتبر منذ عقد تقريباً ان انصار الله اليمنيين والحشد الشعبي العراقي وحزب الله اللبناني هم ميليشيات إيرانية وسط تجاهل عالمي للحرب اليمنية حرصاً من الدول الكبرى على مصالحها مع السعودية اكبر مصدر نفطي في العالم.

هناك اذاً محاولات غربية أميركية لاستثمار قصف المصفاتين السعوديتين بخطة تقضي بحماية المراكز المحلية للنفوذ الغربي في منطقة الخليج وجوارها.

لكن المدهش أن الخطة الغربية تبدو وكأنها تطبيق لنصيحة عبد العزيز آل سعود لأولاده التي دعاهم فيها لإضعاف دائم لليمن والعراق.

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هذا الغرب الاميركي الاوروبي المتجاهل مأساة اليمن يركز على ثلاث نقاط: تفتيت العراق الى دول مستقلة أو كانتونات، شرذمة اليمن الى دول او كانتونات متصارعة، اما النقطة الثالثة التي تبدأ بتطبيقها فتركز على منع أي تقارب سوري عراقي يؤدي الى فتح الحدود بينهما، وهذه من المحرمات الكبرى.

لكن تطبيق هذه الآليات يحتاج الى شعار كبير، هو الخطر الإيراني ومعادلة جامعة هي أمن الملاحة في الخليج والبحر الاحمر، فهذا كافٍ لتجميع المهتمين بثروات النفط والغاز على المستوى العالمي ومعهم انظمة دول النفط وبعض تحالفاتها العربية، لذلك سارعت كل من السعودية والإمارات الى اعلان انضمامها الى تحالف أمن الملاحة في الخليج في حركة تحشيد سياسية هدفها إضفاء شرعية خليجية على حلف غربي لا يزال يعمل لإعادة ترسيخ نتائج الحرب العالمية الثانية للاستحواذ الدائم على ما وفرت له من مغانم اقتصادية واستراتيجية.

ضمن هذه المعطيات تبدو الحرب السعودية على اليمن مرشحة للاستمرار بالوتيرة نفسها لأسباب تتعلق بتبرير العودة الغربية الى المنطقة، كما ان استعداء إيران على مستوى حوربة لا تؤدي الى حرب مطلوب ايضاً لاستمرار تمرير الذريعة الغربية التي تزعم انها تدافع عن المنطقة من هذا الخطر.

أين الخطر اذاً؟ فمنطقة الخليج مزروعة بالقواعد الاميركية وتخضع لسياسات البيت الابيض على نظام السمع والطاعة من دون أي تذمر؟ هذا الجديد يذهب نحو إيلاء العراق أهمية قصوى على اساس منعه من تعزيز وحدته الداخلية، ما يبقيه ضعيفاً واهناً تتحارب مناطقه الداخلية فتعطل حركته الخارجية، وهذه من نصائح المؤسس عبد العزيز.

العراق اذاً هو محور الحركة الغربية الحالية التي تنفذها أربع جهات: الاميركيون الذين يمتلكون عشر قواعد عسكرية فيه، وبعض القوى الداخلية المستفيدة من إضعاف العراق في كردستان والوسط وبعض المناطق الأخرى في الجنوب، و إسرائيل التي بدأت بتنظيم قصف متدرج بطائرات مسيرة على خط حدوده مع سورية.

لجهة الطرف الرابع فهو السعودية التي تعمل على تطوير تدخلها السياسي في العراق الى استهدافات نوعية عسكرية بتغطية أميركية إسرائيلية. وهذا مؤكد من خلال قصف جوي استهدف منذ يومين بعض انحاء محافظة الأنبار وتبين انه سعودي بذريعة استئصال ارهاب موجود في هذه النواحي، علماً ان العراق كان أعلن منذ يومين ايضاً عن فتح نقطة عبور مع السعودية عبر حدوده في الأنبار.

ان التبرير السعودي لهذا القصف غير منطقي. ويقول إن جهات إرهابية إيرانية تسللت الى الأنبار وقصفت المصفاتين السعوديتين من اراضيه.

هذه واحدة من الروايات السعودية الى جانب مزاعم ثانية تدّعي ان الرياض بصدد تحديد دقيق لمواقع القصف في الشمال، بما يشمل إيران ايضاً وربما الكويت.

العراق اذاً في جهاته الحدودية معرض لاستهدافات سعودية وإسرائيلية بأشكال مختلفة، لكن ردود فعله ممنوعة بسبب العرقلة الأميركية التي تسيطر على جزء من قواه الداخلية السياسية وتستعملها لمنع انتاج عراق قويّ، لذلك يعتبر الاميركيون ان منع التنسيق بين سورية والعراق مهمة استراتيجية يؤدي تحقيقها الى استمرار النفوذ الأميركي الكامل على المشرق العربي. وهذا ما يفسّر القصف المجهول تارة والأميركي طوراً والاسرائيلي في معظم الاحيان والسعودي المستجد على مناطق الحدود السورية العراقية، فخطورة هذا التنسيق استراتيجية وليست سياسية آنية، لأن ولادة معادلة من البحر المتوسط حتى مياه الخليج تجاور تركيا وإيران والخليج لهي من الكبائر التي لا يتحمّلها الجيوبوليتيك الاميركي، هذا بالاضافة الى انها تشكل بديلاً للانهيار المصري وبوسعها إعادة انتاج نظام عربي وازن يعيد للمنطقة شيئاً كبيراً من توازنها المسحوق اميركياً واسرائيلياً، ألم يعلن الرئيس المصري السيسي في مؤتمر علني منذ اسبوع فقط، ان الشرق لا يساوي شيئاً من دون سورية متهماً جهات عربية ودولية بمحاولة تفجيرها.

إن هذه المعطيات تكشف أن الحروب على اليمن والعراق وسورية وتحريم التنسيق بينهما، هي الاهداف الاساسية للعودة الغربية الى منطقة الشرق الاوسط وبحارها، فتحقيق هذه الأهداف يكفي لتحديد نتائج الحرب العالمية الثانية التي أخضعت الشرق بكامله لهيمنة غربية سجنته في كهوف التخلف.

فهل هذا ممكن وقابل للتجدد؟

صمود سورية وإصرار العراق على الخروج من بقايا السجن الاميركي وإدراك صواريخ اليمن لعمق معادلة الغرب في السعودية وانتقال إيران الى مستوى دول القرار، هي عوامل تؤكد ان الحرب العالمية الثانية ولت الى غير رجعة، مقابل تشكل منطقة جديدة يعمل اهلها على تحريرها من بقايا المستعمرين ومعهم الكيان الاسرائيلي وحلفاؤهم من عرب الانحطاط.

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Saudi Arabia up in Flames: Riyadh Is Headed for a Major Disaster

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Federico Pieraccini
September 19, 2019

On Saturday September 14, Yemen’s Houthi rebels announced that they had conducted a massive attack on several Aramco plants in Saudi Arabia, including the largest oil refinery in the world in Abqaiq, using 10 drones. On Twitter, dozens of videos and photos showed explosions, flames and the resulting damage.

The move is part of a retaliatory campaign by the Houthis in response to the indiscriminate bombings conducted by the Saudi air force over more than four years. UN estimates speak of more than 100,000 deaths and the largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

The Saudi kingdom finds itself in an increasingly dangerous situation as a result of the retaliatory capacity of the Houthis, able to inflict severe military and economic damage on Riyadh with their missile forces. Estimates suggest that Riyadh is losing something in the region of $300 million a day from the Houthi attacks. On Sunday September 15, a spokesman for the Saudi oil ministry spoke of damage that is yet to be calculated, possibly requiring weeks of repair. Meanwhile, Saudi oil production has halved following the Saturday attack. With a military budget of $200,000, the Houthis managed to inflict damage numbering in the billions of dollars.

House of Saud Isolated

The withdrawal of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates from the conflict in Yemen, driven by their desire to improve relations with Tehran, and the impossibility of the United States intervening directly in the conflict, has created significant problems for the House of Saud. The conflict is considered by the UN to be the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, and Trump has no intention of giving the Democratic presidential contenders any ammunition with which to attack him. Bolton’s dismissal could be one of those Trump signals to the deep state stating that he does not intend to sabotage his re-election hopes in 2020 by starting a new war.

This reluctance by Washington to directly support Israel and Saudi Arabia has aggravated the situation for Riyadh, which now risks seeing the conflict move to its own territory in the south of the country. The Houthi incursions into Saudi Arabia are now a daily event, and as long as Riyadh continues to commit war crimes against innocent Yemeni civilians, the situation will only worsen, with increasingly grave consequences for the internal stability of the Saudi system.

Saturday’s retaliation is the real demonstration of what could happen to the Saudi economy if Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) refuses to sit down and negotiate a way out of one of the worst military disasters of the contemporary era.

The invincibility of US weapons systems is only in Hollywood movies

The Houthis have in recent months managed to strike their targets in Saudi Arabia dozens of times using different aerial means. This highlights once again the total failure of American air-defense systems in the country.

In contrast, the multiple Russian anti-aircraft systems in Syria have achieved a 100% success rate with regard to interceptions, managing to disable (through electronic warfare) all the drones, mortars and missiles launched by jihadists against Russia’s bases in Tartus bases and Latakia.

Blame Iran!

Pompeo blames Tehran for the Yemeni attack on Saudi Arabia, of course without offering any proof. Riyadh and Tel Aviv are increasingly isolated in the Middle East. Washington is only able to offer tweets and paranoia about Iran to help its allies, given that a direct intervention is seen as being too risky for the global economy, not to mention the possibility of the conflict becoming a wider regional conflagration that would sink any chance of reelection in 2020 for the present administration.

Trump, Netanyahu and MBS are concocting a witches’ brew that will bring about a disaster of unprecedented proportions to the region. It is only a matter of time before we see the baleful consequences of their handiwork.

A hypothesis to be discarded

There is some talk doing the rounds that the Saudis conducted a false-flag attack on their own oil refineries, a hypothesis that enjoys a superficial plausibility. The resulting increase in the price of oil could be seen as having a positive effect on Aramco’s share price, it is true. But for the reasons given below, this hypothesis is actually not plausible.

The Houthis develop their own weapons, assisted by the Yemeni army. Used drones would cost less than $20,000 a piece. The military embargo on Yemen (enforced by the US and UK) has created a humanitarian disaster, limiting food and medicine. The delivery of weapons by sea therefore seems unlikely. As repeatedly stated by Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of Iran, as well as representatives of Ansarullah, Tehran has no influence on the Houthis.

The Yemeni response is part of an increasing asymmetric logic, which has as its primary objectives the halt to Riyadh’s bombings of Yemen by increasing the costs of doing so such that they become unsustainable. The obvious pressure point is the 20 billion barrels in strategic reserves.

There is no need for a false flag to blame Iran for the work of the Houthis. The corporate media is enough to have the false accusations repeated without the help of the Israelis or US-based neocons.

The Saudis are more cautious, even if unable to decide how to proceed. In Yemen, they have no more cards to play: they do not want to sit down and deal with Ansarullah, Tehran is unassailable, while Tel Aviv is pushing for a conflict, with Riyadh offered to be sacrificed.

I have been writing for months that, sooner or later, an event will occur that will change the regional balance in a possible conflict with Iran. This happened on Saturday, when half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production was brought to a halt by an attack.

Conclusion

There could not be any worse news for the neocons, Wahhabis and Zionists. If the Houthis could inflict such damage using 10 drones, then Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Washington must be having conniptions at the thought of what the Iranians would be capable of doing in the event that they themselves were attacked.

Any power (in this case the US and their air-defense systems) and its close ally would do everything to avoid suffering such a humiliation that would only serve to reveal their military vulnerabilities.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow is seen by many in Israel as a failure. It is confirmed in Tel Aviv that the Zionist state’s recent attacks in Syria have been quashed by Russian intervention, sending an unambiguous message to Netanyahu.

Netanyahu and MBS, I reiterate, are heading towards the political abyss. And given their inability to handle the situation, they will do everything in their power to draw Washington into their plans against Iran.

It is all certainly vain. But in the coming weeks, I expect further provocations and tensions in the Middle East.

The Ansarullah’s Aramco Drone Strike versus “The Real Act of War” against Yemen

Global Research, September 19, 2019

Pompeo’s provocative pronouncement that the Ansarullah’s drone strike on Aramco’s oil facilities was an “act of war” is extremely hypocritical because it ignores the fact that the Saudis were the ones to initiate the international dimension of the War on Yemen as part of the US’ long-running Hybrid War on Iran, and any conventional US and/or Saudi attack against the Islamic Republic in response to its alleged involvement in the attack would amount to an “act of war” against the entire world due to the global economic consequences that such a move would very likely trigger.

US Secretary of State Pompeo provocatively described the Ansarullah’s drone strike on Aramco’s oil facilities last weekend as an “act of war“, thus making many observers fear that his country and the Saudis are plotting a reciprocal response against them and their Iranian political supporters that both also blame for complicity in the attack, therefore potentially leading to a larger regional conflict. There are reasons to doubt that such a scenario will actually transpire, but the arguments thereof will be explained after elaborating on the hypocrisy of the “act of war” pronouncement.

It was the Saudis, not the Ansarullah, that initiated the international dimension of the War on Yemen out of their serious concern that this rebel group’s rapid successes in the neighboring country would eventually lead to their Iranian rival making military inroads on their doorstep (whether conventional or more likely unconventional) if its political allies captured control of the coast. The Saudis, however, sold their intervention to the public as an attempt to restore Hadi’s internationally recognized government to power following his request for military assistance to this end, which was technically true but didn’t officially touch on the Iranian angle even though the authorities have since emphasized it to the extreme.

Seeing as how no evidence has emerged in the past 4,5 years to corroborate the Saudis’ suspicions about Iran’s future plans to tilt the regional balance of power against it in the event that the Ansarullah were to have taken full control of Yemen, it can be said that their formal intervention was predicated on the concept of “preemptive war” to offset that seemingly impending scenario that they convinced themselves (whether rightly or wrongly) was on the brink of unfolding had they not actively thwarted it. Critics allege that perspective is nothing more than the paranoid delusions of a crumbling Kingdom, but it should be pointed out that Iran has never made a secret of exporting its Islamic Revolution, with its justification for going on the counter-offensive against Iraq in the First Gulf War of the 1980s being a case in point that continues to send chills down the back of its royalist rivals. They, however, weren’t completely innocent in that sense either because they fully supported Iraq’s war of aggression against Iran, as did many other countries in the world at that time including interestingly also the US and USSR. The reason why so many feared the Islamic Revolution is because it presented a credible “third way” for Muslim countries to follow in the Old Cold War and thus upset bipolarity.

To simplify a very complex series of events, the 1979 Islamic Revolution set off a regional — and to an extent, even a global — security dilemma that continues to influence International Relations to this day, most recently when forming the implied basis behind the Saudis’ “preemptive” War on Yemen that eventually led to the Ansarullah asymmetrically responding out of self-defense through their massive drone strike against Aramco’s oil facilities last weekend. Even in the unlikely event that Iran somehow contributed to the attack through logistics, military, or other forms of support like the US and Saudi Arabia allege, that wouldn’t change the fact that it would have been a response to the Hybrid War that those two have been incessantly waging against it since 1979 and which markedly intensified in nearly the past 1,5 years since the imposition of the anti-Iranian sanctions. Even so, many observers fear that the US and Saudi Arabia are prepared to strike (back at?) Iran and ominously climb the conventional escalation ladder to dangerously new heights, but while that certainly can’t be discounted, there are valid reasons for arguing that it probably won’t happen owing to Iran’s control of the asymmetrical escalation one that could impose unacceptable costs to them and the world if that ever occurs.

Irrespective of whether there really was a secret Iranian hand behind the Aramco attack or not, few doubt that the country has the drone and missile capabilities to turn that incident into child’s play and carry out something far more devastating if it were ever attacked. The US’ Patriot missiles failed to intercept the Ansarullah’s ten drones, revealing a glaring regional security shortcoming that therefore means that practically every oil processing facility in the Gulf is vulnerable to this sort of attack unless they’re able to rapidly improve their defensive capabilities, which can’t realistically happen for some time even if they were to purchase Russia’s S-400s and anti-drone equipment to complement or partially replace their inefficient American systems. World-renowned geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar is correct in predicting that

“The real reason there would be no ships traversing the Strait of Hormuz (author’s note: if the US and Saudi Arabia attack Iran) is that there would be no oil in the Gulf left to pump. The oil fields, having been bombed, would be burning”, which would collapse the Gulf economies and also instantly trigger the world’s worst economic crisis in history.

With this in mind, a US-Saudi strike on Iran would be an actual “act of war” against both their target itself and the rest of the world.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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

Zarif: Military strike on Iran will lead to ‘all-out war’ in region

Press Tv

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says a possible military strike against his country by the United States or Saudi Arabia will unleash an “all-out” war in the region.

Iran’s top diplomat made the remarks in an exclusive interview with the CNN in Tehran on Thursday.

Asked what the consequence of a US or Saudi military strike on Iran would be, Zarif said: “All-out war.”

“I make a very serious statement about defending our country. I am making a very serious statement that we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation,” Zarif said, adding that a military response based on “deception” about the weekend attacks on Saudi oil installations would cause “a lot of casualties.”

“…We won’t blink to defend our territory,” Iran’s foreign minister emphasized.

Javad Zarif

@JZarif

On @CNN, I emphasized that here’s no such thing as a “limited strike”. Iran does NOT want war, but we will NOT hesitate to defend ourselves.

Also, Yemenis, under brutal attack for yrs, have powerful motivation to build what it takes to defend themselves.https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/19/middleeast/iran-zarif-saudi-intl/index.html 

Exclusive: Zarif threatens ‘all out war’ in case of military strike on Iran

In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh, Zarif raised the specter of ‘all out war’ in case of a US or Saudi military strike on the country.

cnn.com

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Tensions started to rise between Iran and Saudi Arabia after a group of Yemeni drones hit two oil facilities of Saudi Arabia’s state oil giant Aramco in the country’s east, causing huge fires before dawn on Saturday.

A spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry said in a statement that the attacks targeted two Aramco factories in Abqaiq and Khurais, without specifying the source of the attacks. However, Yemen’s Houthi movement later claimed responsibility in an announcement on Al Masirah TV. The movement’s military spokesman, General Yahya Sare’e, said 10 drones were deployed against the sites in Abqaiq and Khurais, and pledged to widen the range of attacks on Saudi Arabia.

On Sunday, Riyadh admitted that Yemen’s drone strikes had shut down about 50 percent of the kingdom’s crude and gas production, with the United States rushing to point the finger at Iran for the raids without providing any evidence.

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on the same day, Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman acknowledged that the attacks on Aramco refineries in Abqaiq and Khurais had cut the state oil giant’s crude oil supply by around 5.7 million barrels per day, or about 50 percent of its output.

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

On Wednesday, Pompeo who was in Riyadh to discuss the matter with Saudi officials described the attack on Saudi oil facilities as “an act of war” that knocked out more than half the kingdom’s oil production.

Elsewhere in his interview with the CNN, Zarif said Iran hoped to avoid conflict, adding that the country was willing to talk to regional countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

He once again denied Tehran’s involvement in attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, saying that Yemen’s Ansarullah movement, which claimed responsibility for the attack, has stepped up its military capabilities and is now capable of conducting a sophisticated operation such as the one that knocked out half of the kingdom’s energy production.

“I know that we didn’t do it. I know that the Houthis made a statement that they did it,” Zarif said.

‘No US talks unless all sanctions removed’

Zarif was also asked about the possibility of negotiations between the Iran and the administration of US President Donald Trump, dismissing such possibility and nothing that there would be no negotiations between the two sides unless the US gave Iran the full sanctions relief promised under the nuclear deal.

Trump pulled his country out of the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018, and re-imposed a host of unilateral sanctions on the Islamic Republic that had been lifted after the deal was reached between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015, which at that time included the United States, the UK, France, Russia, and China plus German.

“(The JCPOA) is an agreement that we reached with the United States. Why should we renegotiate? Why should we start something else, which may again be invalid in a year and a half,” Zarif said, adding, “If they lift the sanctions that they re-imposed illegally, then that’s a different situation… Then we would consider (talks).”

Zarif was echoing previous remarks by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, who said in a public meeting on Tuesday that talks with Iran would be possible only if the US returned to the nuclear deal.

“If the US retracts its words, repents and returns to the nuclear accord that it has violated, it can then take part in sessions of other signatories to the deal and hold talks with Iran… Otherwise, no talks at any level will be held between Iranian and American authorities, neither in New York nor elsewhere.”

The Leader, however, emphasized that under the present circumstances, Iran would not engage in negotiations with the United States “at any level,” and that Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the Iranian nation has failed to achieve its goals.

Ayatollah Khamenei said entering talks with the US under these circumstances would be tantamount to surrendering to Washington’s undue 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,” the Leader noted, adding, “That is why Iranian officials — including the president, the foreign minister and others — have unanimously voiced their objection to any talks with the US — be it in a bilateral or a multilateral setting.”

Yemeni Killer Blow to House of Saud

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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

US defense failure… Why Washington has to blame Iran over Saudi attacks

Finian Cunningham
Finian Cunningham is an award-winning journalist who has written extensively on international affairs.
US defense failure… Why Washington has to blame Iran over Saudi attacks
The devastating blitz on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry has led to a flurry of accusations from US officials blaming Iran. The reason for the finger-pointing is simple: Washington’s spectacular failure to protect its Saudi ally.

The Trump administration needs to scapegoat Iran for the latest military assault on Saudi Arabia because to acknowledge that the Houthi rebels mounted such an audacious assault on the oil kingdom’s heartland would be an admission of American inadequacy.

Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars in recent years purchasing US Patriot missile defense systems and supposedly cutting-edge radar technology from the Pentagon. If the Yemeni rebels can fly combat drones up to 1,000 kilometers into Saudi territory and knock out the linchpin production sites in the kingdom’s oil industry, then that should be a matter of huge embarrassment for US “protectors.”

ALSO ON RT.COM‘Maximum lies’: Iran rejects US’ claim it attacked Saudi oil facilities, warns it’s ready for warAmerican defense of Saudi Arabia is germane to their historical relationship. Saudi oil exports nominated in dollars for trade – the biggest on the planet – are vital for maintaining the petrodollar global market, which is in turn crucial for American economic power. In return, the US is obligated to be a protector of the Saudi monarchy, which comes with the lucrative added benefit of selling the kingdom weapons worth billions of dollars every year.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Saudi Arabia has the world’s third biggest military budget, behind the US and China. With an annual spend of around $68 billion, it is the world’s number one in terms of percentage of gross domestic product (8.8 per cent). Most of the Saudi arms are sourced from the US, with Patriot missile systems in particular being a recent big-ticket item.

Yet for all that financial largesse and the finest American military technology, the oil kingdom just witnessed a potentially crippling wave of air assaults on its vital oil industry. Saudi oil production at its mammoth refinery complex at Abqaiq, 205 miles (330 kms) east of the capital Riyadh, was down 50 per cent after it was engulfed by flames following air strikes. One of the Saudi’s biggest oilfields, at Khurais, also in the Eastern Province, was also partially closed.

There are credible reports that the damage is much more serious than the Saudi officials are conceding. These key industrial sites may take weeks to repair.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got it half right when he claimed, “Iran launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply”.

Yes, it is unprecedented. But Pompeo and other US officials have most likely got it wrong about blaming Iran.

ALSO ON RT.COMPompeo blames Iran for drone attack on Saudi oil facilities, Senator Graham urges US to strike itSome Trump administration officials told US media that “cruise missiles” were responsible for the giant fireballs seen over the Saudi oil facilities. One was quoted anonymously as saying:

There’s no doubt that Iran is responsible for this… there’s no escaping it. There is no other candidate.”

In a hurried effort to substantiate accusations against Iran, satellite images were released which show what appears to be the aftermath of the air strike on the Abqaiq refinery complex. US officials claim the location of the explosions indicate the weapons originated not from Yemen to the south, but from either Iran or Iraq.

Even the normally dutiful New York Times expressed doubt about that claim, commenting in its report: “The satellite photographs released on Sunday did not appear as clear cut as officials suggested, with some appearing to show damage on the western side of facilities, not from the direction of Iran or Iraq.”

The accusations made by Pompeo and others are assertions in place of substantiated claims.

It is noteworthy that President Donald Trump refrained from openly blaming Iran by name, merely hinting at the possibility. If Pompeo is so adamant in fingering Iran, why didn’t Trump? Also, the president made a telling remark when he said he was “waiting for verification” from Saudi Arabia “as to who they believe was the cause of the attack.” Again, if US officials are explicitly accusing Iran then why is Trump saying he wants “verification” from the Saudis?

For its part, Iran has flatly dismissed the allegations that it had any involvement, saying that statements by Pompeo were “blind” and tantamount to setting up a conflict.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi also rejected claims that his country’s territory might have been used by pro-Iranian Shia militants to launch the air strikes.

The Houthi rebels in Yemen have issued unambiguous statements claiming responsibility for the air raids on the Saudi oil installations. They were specific that the weapons were drones, not missiles, adding with details that 10 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were deployed.

ALSO ON RT.COMPrematurely assigning blame for attack on Saudi oil facilities is irresponsible, says ChinaNotably too, most US media reported initially that the attacks were by drones flown from Yemen. Associated Press reported a level of sophistication in the attacks whereby drones were used first to disable the US Patriot radar systems before other UAVs proceeded to execute the air strikes.

It therefore seems that US officials are attempting to switch the story by blaming Iran. It is reckless scapegoating because the logical consequence could elicit a military attack against Iran, in which event Tehran has warned it is ready for war.

The rationale for blaming Iran is that the Yemeni rebels (which Iran supports politically) are just not capable of using drones with such dramatic success against the Saudi oil industry. The culprit must be Iran, so the rationale goes. This is a follow-on from alleged sabotage by Iran against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf earlier this summer.

However, a timeline shows that the Houthis are more than capable of launching ever-more powerful ballistic missiles and deeper penetrating drones into Saudi territory. The rebels have been using drones from the beginning of the war which the US-backed Saudi-UAE coalition launched on the southern Arabian country in March 2015.

Over the past four years, the Houthi aerial firepower has gradually improved. Earlier, the Saudis, with American defense systems, were able to intercept drones and missiles from Yemen. But over the last year, the rebels have increased their success rate for hitting targets in the Saudi interior, including the capital Riyadh.

In May this year, Houthi drones hit Saudi Arabia’s crucial east-west pipeline. Then in August, drones and ballistic missiles were reported to have struck the Shaybah oil field near the border with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as the Dammam exporting complex in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.

ALSO ON RT.COMWill France, UK, US ever pay for what they have done to Yemen?The Yemenis claim they are taking the war to Saudi Arabia and the UAE after years of relentless air strikes on their homeland which have resulted in nearly 90,000 dead. A recent UN report censured the US, Britain and France for possible complicity in war crimes through their military support for the Saudi coalition.

There must be trepidation among the monarchs in Saudi Arabia and the UAE that the rebels from war-torn and starving Yemen are now coming after them with drones that could demolish their oil economies. What’s more, the much-vaunted American protector is not able to deliver on its strategic bargain, despite billions of dollars of Pentagon weaponry. That’s why Washington has to find an excuse by casting Iran as the villain.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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