Crises – the Middle-East and a few hopefully useful pointers

The Saker

September 18, 2019

Crises – the Middle-East and a few hopefully useful pointers

[This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

The Middle-East is literally exploding: the Houthis have delivered an extremely effective blow against Saudi oil production which (so they claim) has now dropped by 50% before bouncing back; there are persistent rumors that Russian Su-35S and S-400 has threatened to shoot down Israeli aircraft attacking Syria; Lebanon has declared that it will defend itself against Israeli attacks; Hezbollah has been threatening to deliver crippling strikes on Israel and even Israeli officials; Turkey has purchased Russian air defenses and says that if the USA refuses to deliver their F-35S, then Turkey will consider Su-35s and even maybe Su-57’s.  Bibi Netanyahu tried to use Putin for his reelection campaign (well, he really is trying desperately to stay out of jail) but had to go home empty handed and, according to the JP, his mission was a failure.

Finally, and just to make sure that the crises are only limited to the Middle-East: the Polaks and the EU Court have successfully sued to try to force Russia to use the Ukie gas transit; the USA is invoking ancient treaties to threaten Venezuela; the UK is going to hell in a handbasket; Europe (well, Germany) can’t even get the Polaks to heel about North Stream 2 (well, they *are* heeling, of course, but to Uncle Shmuel, not Angela Merkel); India and Pakistan are threatening one another over Kashmir. Did I forget anything?

Oh yes, the DPRK is firing new missiles; the US wants to blame Iran for the Houthi attacks; China categorically rejects such accusations, while Russia continues to announce new revolutionary weapons built on new principles and plans to deploy the S-500 “Prometheus”, just to make sure the Empire does not get any stupid ideas about trying to strike Russia (or her allies which will begin purchasing the S-500 in 2021, according official sources).

I am sure I have forgotten plenty.  Really, the Empire is collapsing on all fronts and that, in turn, means the chances that the ignorant dimwits in the White House will do something very stupid, dramatically increase.

Yes, I know, Bolton was fired.  And I applaud that, but considering that I believe that Pompeo is even more delusional and evil than Bolton (not to mention fantastically arrogant!), that is hardly a reason to hope (I just read that Robert C. O’Brien will succeed Bolton; he used to be the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department; I wonder if that means even more kidnappings of Russian nationals worldwide…?).

There is so much to cover here that I will limit myself to a few points about the Middle-East which I think are important.

First, the partial destruction of the most important Saudi oil facilities is a HUGE embarrassment for the US.  Remember that the KSA is really the “center” of CENTCOM and even the reason for its existence (to “protect” Iran from the USSR and officially keep the Shah safe, but in reality this was also part of a major deal between the USA the KSA: “you accept payment only in dollars and we will protect you against everybody“).  Sure, there is a long list of western stooges to which a similar promise was made, including Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Manuel Noriega, Hosni Mubarak and many others; most are now dead, the rest in jail (iirc).  Now its the turn of the Saudis it seems: not only could the super-duper “better than the S-300” patriots not stop the Houthis, all of the combined might of CENTCOM failed too.

Second, I can only concur with ‘b’ at Moon of Alabama – the war is over for the KSA. Whether they realize it or not makes no difference.  Okay, it will make a difference in time, but in time only.  The Saudis and their AngloZionist patrons have three solutions:

  1. Continue pretty much like before: that is the definition of insanity if different results are expected.
  2. Escalate and strike Iran, following which the entire Middle-East will explode with dramatic consequences.
  3. Do what the US always does: declare victory and leave.

Obviously, the third option is the only sensible one, but who said that Bibi, Trump or MbS are sensible at all?  Tulsi Gabbard joined me in calling Trump somebody’s bitch, except I call him an Israeli bitch whereas Gabbard calls him a Saudi bitch.  Same difference!

There is, however, one restraining factor: if Trump ever strikes Iran he will become the “disposable President” for the Neocons: Iran will use the opportunity to strike Israel and Trump will be impeached for it (the Neocons are, after all, in total control of the DNC and many key committees in Congress).

So this will all boil down to Trump and whether he has the info and brains to realize that an attack on Iran will wreck his Presidency (which is already FUBARed enough and attacking Iran will make it official) and he will be both impeached and, obviously, never reelected.

Third, could the Houthis have done it themselves?  Absolutely yes. Iran did not have to strike directly, precisely because the Houthis were capable of doing it themselves. Check out this official exhibit of Houthi ballistic missiles and drones and see for yourself here and here.  Furthermore, the Houthis are becoming very similar to Hezbollah and they have clearly learned advanced missile and drone capabilities (from Iran, which is why the Israelis and the US are so angry).  Now I am not, repeat, NOT saying that Iran did not help or that this strike would have been as successful had Iran not provided intelligence, targeting, technical expertise, etc.  But if there is any evidence of direct Iranian involvement, let this “malevolent manatee” (which is how Fred Reed referred to Pompeo) show it to the world, and it better be better than the crap they showed for Skripal or the chemical false flags in Syria.

Fourth, what this means for the KSA and their AngloZionist patrons is that the Houthis can strike anywhere inside the KSA with total impunity.  And not only in the KSA.  Furthermore, I suspect that Iran can also hit every single oil or gas related facility in the Middle-East just like it can strike every US/CENTCOM/NATO/Israeli objective it wants.  Furthermore, in case of total war in the Middle-East, you can expect missiles raining down on US facilities not only from Yemen (Houthis) and Lebanon (Hezbollah) but also potentially from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fifth, it really does not matter where or what the US and/or Saudis and/or Israelis fire at Iran, the response will be the same, at least according to Professor Marandi: it will be massive and the oil and gas export capability of the entire Middle-East will be threatened.  There is no safe, cheap or effective way to strike Iran.  But do the folks in DC realize that?

Next, I want to offer a few points about the alleged interception of Israeli F-35 by Russian Su-35S over Syria.

First, we really don’t have the facts, so let’s wait a little.  Most stories about this come from one Arabic online paper.  Now, in the last 24 hours there was “sort of kinda” confirmation from Russia, but not from officials, and these reports were not so much giving factual details as gloating that Netanyahu walked away from Russia with nothing.

Second, my best guess is that this story is probably based on reality.  The Israelis have been behaving as if they did not care about the Russian presence in Syria: so they engage in airstrikes exclusively for PR purposes (remember, Bibi wants to avoid jail!) and the Russians probably complained and were ignored, and now they’ve had enough.

Third, the fact that the Jerusalem Post had to published a horrified article about this event conclusively proves that those who were trying to convince us that Russia and Israel were working hand in hand and that Putin was Bibi’s best friend were, well, full of crapola and their clickbait was just that: clickbait.

Fourth, there are those technology buffs who will always try to prove that the Su-35S is vastly superior to the F-35 and that this story is very credible and those who will explain that the F-35 is vastly superior to the Su-35S and that this story is pure invention.  The truth is that it is useless and meaningless to compare two advanced aircraft “in the abstract” or declare that one is so much better than the other.  Okay, yes, the Su-35S is superior in many aspects to the F-35, but most definitely not in all possible scenarios.  In fact, we would also need to know what other aircraft were in the air at the time – including AWACs, SEAD and EW – and we would need to find out exactly what role the Russian S-400s played (if any).  Generally, I urge you not to engage in a) “bean-counting” (only looking at quantities) or in b) making direct combat aircraft comparisons.  In the latter case, we would need to know what kind (and how much) of training the pilots got, what kind of weapons they had, what kind of sensors they used and how, and more generally, exactly how the Israelis decided to structure their attack and how the Russians decided to respond.  Finally, we would have to get some detail on sensor fusing, network-centric operations, datalinks, etc.  Since we know nothing about any of that, I recommend that we don’t dwell on aircraft/radar/missile X vs aircraft/radar/missile Y.  It’s just not worth it.

Fifth, there are already rumors about this being a false flag operation of the Israelis, the British, the KSA or the US.  Well, I sure can’t prove a negative, but I see no compelling reason to make such conclusions.  First, this is really bad news for the Empire and, second, the Houthis have done similar actions many times in the past and there is no reason to suspect that they could not have done what they did.  Still, it is also undeniable that any hike in oil prices benefits a lot of people (USA shale, Russia, the KSA, etc.).  Finally, there is always and by definition the risk of the Israelis and their Neocon allies pulling off some kind of false flag to finally trigger a US attack on Iran.  All these are, however, only indirect arguments, at least so far.  The fact that a false flag is possible does not mean it actually happened, let’s never forget that and never drop to premature or unfounded conclusions.

Sixth, let’s look at the targets themselves.  We are talking about oil facilities, huge ones, which under the logic of US/NATO/Israel (aka the “Axis of Kindness”) is most definitely classified as “regime support infrastructure” or something similar.  Furthermore, even under non Axis of Kindness logic, the laws of war allow strikes on infrastructures critical to the enemy’s military effort.  So while TV stations, embassies or medical factories are NOT legal targets, critical oil facilities are.  The ONLY stipulation is that the attacking side make an honest effort in selecting targets and munitions and try to avoid avoidable casualties.  As far as I know, the Saudis have mentioned zero victims.  Yes, that is unlikely, but that is how things stand for the time being. In this case, the Houthi strike was absolutely legitimate, especially considering the kind of genocidal devastation the Axis of Kindness and the KSA have unleashed against Yemen.

Lastly, I will venture a guess as to why the US and Saudi air defense were so useless: they probably never expected an attack from Yemen, at least not such a sophisticated one.  Most of the US/KSA air defenses are deployed to defend against an attack from Iran, from the northern direction.  The fact that this strike was so successful strongly suggest that it came from the south, from Yemen.

Conclusion: (Sept 18th, 1816Z)

I was about to conclude that according to RT, the Saudi Oil Minister has declared that the KSA “don’t know yet who is responsible” and that this was good news.  Then I saw this: “Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of sponsoring oil-plant attack, says it ‘couldn’t have originated in Yemen“, also on RT.  Not good.  Not credible either.

For one thing, had it been Iran, the strike would have been far more massive and would have only been a part of a much bigger, full-scale, attack not only on Saudi oil facilities, but also on all crucial CENTCOM installations and forces.  There is no way the Iranians would have opened major hostilities (and these strikes were definitely described by the Saudis as “major”) just to wait for a massive US/KSA/Israeli retaliation.  The Iranians are most certainly not going to repeat Saddam Hussein’s crucial mistake and allow the US/CENTCOM/NATO/Israel/KSA the time needed to prepare for a massive attack on Iran.  I am monitoring various “indicators and warnings” which would suggest that the USA is up to no good, and so far I have noticed only one potentially worrying event: MSC Sealift and US transportation Command  has ordered a no-notice turbo activation of between 23 to 25 ships from the 46 ship Ready Reserve Force (RRF have to be 5-day ready).  This is an unprecedented number since 2003 and it could mean somebody just taking precautions or someone is getting twitchy. But the timing is usually September, but not in this number (more about this here).  But please keep in mind that such indicators cannot be considered in isolation from other facts. Should there be more, I will do my best to report them on the blog.

The fact that US/KSA air defenses performed so miserably does not mean that the USA is totally clueless about ‘whodunit’. There are a lot of other sensors and systems (including in space) which will detect a missile launch (especially a ballistic missile!) and there are some radar modes which allow for long-range detection but not necessarily capable of track-while-scan or of long-range engagements.  Furthermore, you can also monitor data signals and general telemetry, and since the US has immense databases with the “signature” signals from all sorts of enemy hardware, they also probably could accurately assess which type of systems were used.  Just in this case, just as in the case of MH-17, the Pentagon knows exactly ‘whodunit’.  Ditto for the Russians who have a lot of SIGINT/FISINT in the Middle-East (and in space).

But in the last days of the Empire, facts don’t really matter.  What matters is whatever is seen as politically expedient by the folks in the White House and in Israel.  My biggest hope is that Trump finds out the truth about the strikes and that he has enough brains left to understand that should he strike Iran he will lose the election and will probably even be impeached to boot.

Let’s hope that his narcissistic instincts will save our long-suffering planet!

The Saker

Advertisements

الأخبار: السعودية انقذونا، اليمن انتصرنا

اليمن يهزّ عالم البترودولار

يرتفع التوتر في المنطقة، في ضوء التصعيد الكلامي من كل الأطراف. وفيما كانت الرياض تكثّف جهودها، التي لم تقنع كثيرين، لوضع إيران في دائرة الاتهام بهجوم «أرامكو»، وبالتالي استدراج ردّ عسكري أميركي، كان دونالد ترامب يؤكد للجميع أن رأيه لم يتغيّر، وأن الحرب في آخر خياراته، مكتفياً بالردود الدبلوماسية والعقوبات، كما أكد أمس، فيما كشف وزير خارجيته من السعودية عن مسعى لإنشاء تحالف يضمّ أوروبيين وعرباً لـ«ردع إيران»

صور الأسلحة صحيحة والهجوم انطلق من 3 مواقع: مصدر عسكري يفنّد لـ«الأخبار» مؤتمر وزارة الدفاع السعودية

يرتفع التوتر في المنطقة، في ضوء التصعيد الكلامي من كل الأطراف. وفيما كانت الرياض تكثّف جهودها، التي لم تقنع كثيرين، لوضع إيران في دائرة الاتهام بهجوم «أرامكو»، وبالتالي استدراج ردّ عسكري أميركي، كان…

الأخبار

انتصرت صنعاء

فتح اليمنيون، بالأصالة عن أنفسهم وبالنيابة عن سائر مظلومي العالم، وبوصفهم أحد أضلاع المحور المقاوم، بتسديدتهم الدقيقة والصائبة شكلاً ومضموناً، الباب واسعاً على تغيير نوعي في معادلات المنطقة…

نجيب نصر الله

روسيا الرابح الأكبر

إذا كان ثمة رابح أكبر حتى الآن من سياسات إدارة دونالد ترامب العدوانية الحمقاء، فهو بلا شك روسيا. منذ وصول الرئيس الأميركي وفريقه إلى السلطة، حذر الكثير من الخبراء والمحللين من خطورة توجهاته في ميدان…

“AIR DEFENSE SYSTEMS FAIL ALL THE TIME”: POMPEO’S VISIT TO SAUDI ARABIA TURNED INTO THEATER OF ABSURD

"Air Defense Systems Fail All the Time": Pompeo's Visit To Saudi Arabia Turned Into Theater Of Absurd

Click to see full-size image

On September 18th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that it was just normal for the Patriot missile defense system to fail in repelling the recent drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure.

“Look, anytime – we’ve seen air defense systems all around the world have mixed success.  Some of the finest in the world don’t always pick things up. We want to work to make sure that infrastructure and resources are put in place such that attacks like this would be less successful than this one appears to have been.  That’s certainly the case.”

He actually tried to paint the complete failure as something successful. He then, without being asked, moved on to defend the US move to leave the Iran Nuclear Deal, saying that if it didn’t Iran would’ve had missiles that could do that much earlier, and not 55 weeks from “now.”

“Fifty-five weeks from now, the whole world can sell exactly these missile systems, conventional missile systems to the Iranian Government unencumbered by any sanctions under the – 55 weeks, 55 weeks from now. Does anybody think that that was a genius idea to allow them to have the whole world be able to actually sell them missile systems?  They’d have more complex ones but for the sanctions we put in place that have prevented them from getting access to money, most importantly, but also parts, spare parts, information technology – all the things that go into building out production-level threats to the world.”

 

Of course, any other scenario than Iran being to blame is also completely unacceptable, Pompeo simply follows the narrative, any other reality is disregarded. After all, you can’t believe what Yemen’s Houthis (Ansar Allah) say.

“You say, “the Houthis said,” you should say, “the well-known, frequently lying Houthis have said the following.” This is important, because you ought not report them as if these are truth-tellers, as if these are people who aren’t completely under the boot of the Iranians, and who would not at the direction of the Iranians lay claim to attacks which they did not engage in, which clearly was the case here. So there you go.  Whenever you say “Houthis,” you should begin with “the well-known, frequently-known-to-lie Houthis.”  And then you can write whatever it is they say.  And you would have — that would be good reporting.”

Thank god Pompeo and Co. have never been known to lie.

Naturally, the questioning also went towards the way of how the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen would come to an end. Pompeo’s answer had absolutely nothing in relation to the question he was asked:

“I know you care deeply about that, good reporting.  Let me just try and close out.  So we also know that these are systems that the Iranians have not deployed anyplace else, that they have not deployed outside of their country, to the best of our knowledge.  We’ve not seen them deploy these types of UAV systems with the kinds of ranges and capabilities, nor have we seen them place these missiles where they could have done it.  We’ve seen no evidence that it came from Iraq.  It could well have traveled over Kuwait.  We’ve not seen that either.”

He praised the reporting, then commented on something separate.

He further claimed that Saudi Arabian citizens and also Americans who are in the Kingdom were at risk by the attack on oil infrastructure, despite there being not a single person harmed in it. Possibly, but unlikely, Iran has devised some sort of state-of-the-art UAV that can identify specifically US citizens or some sort of American-seeking missile.

And his attempts to praise the Patriot missile by saying that other systems also sometimes fail is also expected. But, of course, no mention is made that between 1999 and 2018, the US had repeatedly used unrealistic decoys that misrepresent the performance of its systems, making it appear much more capable than they actually are. This was presented in a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists [pdf].

Furthermore, the Kingdom and the US would like to present it as if the attack on the oil infrastructure is a separate incident, but the truth is that Ansar Allah has repeatedly attacked military parades, as well as other oil facilities throughout the war, despite Saudi Arabian defense systems being specifically pointed in Ansar Allah’s direction.

And going back to the question of the war ending, even the Sudanese children soldiers that the Saudi-led coalition used against the Houthis said it.

“If it weren’t for us the Houthis would’ve captured Riyadh by now.”

Essentially Saudi Arabia lost war in Yemen.The only reason Ansar Allah hasn’t completely defeated the Saudi-led intervention is its limited arsenal.

This is where a reason to justify the US completely entering the conflict needs to be created.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Houthi Rebels Overturned the Middle East Geopolitical Chessboard

The Yemeni Shiite group’s spectacular attack on Abqaiq raises the distinct possibility of a push to drive the House of Saud from power

Global Research, September 19, 2019
Mohamed Bin Salman

We are the Houthis and we’re coming to town. With the spectacular attack on Abqaiq, Yemen’s Houthis have overturned the geopolitical chessboard in Southwest Asia – going as far as introducing a whole new dimension: the distinct possibility of investing in a push to drive the House of Saud out of power.

Blowback is a bitch. Houthis – Zaidi Shiites from northern Yemen – and Wahhabis have been at each other’s throats for ages. This book is absolutely essential to understand the mind-boggling complexity of Houthi tribes; as a bonus, it places the turmoil in southern Arabian lands way beyond a mere Iran-Saudi proxy war.

Still, it’s always important to consider that Arab Shiites in the Eastern province – working in Saudi oil installations – have got to be natural allies of the Houthis fighting against Riyadh.

Houthi striking capability – from drone swarms to ballistic missile attacks – has been improving remarkably for the past year or so. It’s not by accident that the UAE saw which way the geopolitical and geoeconomic winds were blowing: Abu Dhabi withdrew from Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s vicious war against Yemen and now is engaged in what it describes as a  “peace-first” strategy.

Even before Abqaiq, the Houthis had already engineered quite a few attacks against Saudi oil installations as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports. In early July, Yemen’s Operations Command Center staged an exhibition in full regalia in Sana’a featuring their whole range of ballistic and winged missiles and drones.

The Saudi Ministry of Defense displays drones and parts from missiles used in the refinery attack.

The situation has now reached a point where there’s plenty of chatter across the Persian Gulf about a spectacular scenario: the Houthis investing in a mad dash across the Arabian desert to capture Mecca and Medina in conjunction with a mass Shiite uprising in the Eastern oil belt. That’s not far-fetched anymore. Stranger things have happened in the Middle East. After all, the Saudis can’t even win a bar brawl – that’s why they rely on mercenaries.

Orientalism strikes again

The US intel refrain that the Houthis are incapable of such a sophisticated attack betrays the worst strands of orientalism and white man’s burden/superiority complex.

The only missile parts shown by the Saudis so far come from a Yemeni Quds 1 cruise missile. According to Brigadier General Yahya Saree, spokesman for the Sana’a-based Yemeni Armed Forces,

“the Quds system proved its great ability to hit its targets and to bypass enemy interceptor systems.”

This satellite overview handout image from the US government shows damage to oil/gas infrastructure from weekend drone attacks at Abqaiq.

Houthi armed forces duly claimed responsibility for Abqaiq:

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

Notice the key concept: “cooperation” from inside Saudi Arabia – which could include the whole spectrum from Yemenis to that Eastern province Shiites.

Even more relevant is the fact that massive American hardware deployed in Saudi Arabia inside out and outside in – satellites, AWACS, Patriot missiles, drones, battleships, jet fighters – didn’t see a thing, or certainly not in time. The sighting of three “loitering” drones by a Kuwaiti bird hunter arguably heading towards Saudi Arabia is being invoked as “evidence”. Cue to the embarrassing picture of a drone swarm – wherever it came from – flying undisturbed for hours over Saudi territory.

UN officials openly admit that now everything that matters is within the 1,500 km range of the Houthis’ new UAV-X drone: oil fields in Saudi Arabia, a still-under-construction nuclear power plant in the Emirates and Dubai’s mega-airport.

My conversations with sources in Tehran over the past two years have ascertained that the Houthis’ new drones and missiles are essentially copies of Iranian designs assembled in Yemen itself with crucial help from Hezbollah engineers.

US intel insists that 17 drones and cruise missiles were launched in combination from southern Iran. In theory, Patriot radar would have picked that up and knocked the drones/missiles from the sky. So far, absolutely no record of this trajectory has been revealed. Military experts generally agree that the radar on the Patriot missile is good, but its success rate is “disputed” – to say the least. What’s important, once again, is that the Houthis do have advanced offensive missiles. And their pinpoint accuracy at Abqaiq was uncanny.

This satellite overview handout image shows damage to oil/gas infrastructure from weekend drone attacks at Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia. Courtesy of Planet Labs Inc

For now, it appears that the winner of the US/UK-supported House of One Saudi war on the civilian Yemeni population, which started in March 2015 and generated a humanitarian crisis the UN regards as having been of biblical proportions, is certainly not the crown prince, widely known as MBS.

Listen to the general

Crude oil stabilization towers – several of them – at Abqaiq were specifically targeted, along with natural gas storage tanks. Persian Gulf energy sources have been telling me repairs and/or rebuilding could last months. Even Riyadh  admitted as much.

Blindly blaming Iran, with no evidence, does not cut it. Tehran can count on swarms of top strategic thinkers. They do not need or want to blow up Southwest Asia, which is something they could do, by the way: Revolutionary Guards generals have already said many times on the record that they are ready for war.

Professor Mohammad Marandi from the University of Tehran, who has very close relations with the Foreign Ministry, is adamant: “It didn’t come from Iran. If it did, it would be very embarrassing for the Americans, showing they are unable to detect a large number of Iranian drones and missiles. That doesn’t make sense.”

Marandi additionally stresses, “Saudi air defenses are not equipped to defend the country from Yemen but from Iran. The Yemenis have been striking against the Saudis, they are getting better and better, developing drone and missile technology for four and a half years, and this was a very soft target.”

A soft – and unprotected – target: the US PAC-2 and PAC-3 systems in place are all oriented towards the east, in the direction of Iran. Neither Washington nor Riyadh knows for sure where the drone swarm/missiles really came from.

Readers should pay close attention to this groundbreaking interview with General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force. The interview, in Farsi (with English subtitles), was conducted by US-sanctioned Iranian intellectual Nader Talebzadeh and includes questions forwarded by my US analyst friends Phil Giraldi and Michael Maloof and myself.

Explaining Iranian self-sufficiency in its defense capabilities, Hajizadeh sounds like a very rational actor. The bottom line: “Our view is that neither American politicians nor our officials want a war. If an incident like the one with the drone [the RQ-4N shot down by Iran in June] happens or a misunderstanding happens, and that develops into a larger war, that’s a different matter. Therefore we are always ready for a big war.”

In response to one of my questions, on what message the Revolutionary Guards want to convey, especially to the US, Hajizadeh does not mince his words: “In addition to the US bases in various regions like Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Emirates and Qatar, we have targeted all naval vessels up to a distance of 2,000 kilometers and we are constantly monitoring them. They think that if they go to a distance of 400 km, they are out of our firing range. Wherever they are, it only takes one spark, we hit their vessels, their airbases, their troops.”

Get your S-400s or else

On the energy front, Tehran has been playing a very precise game under pressure – selling loads of oil by turning off the transponders of their tankers as they leave Iran and transferring the oil at sea, tanker to tanker, at night, and relabeling their cargo as originating at other producers for a price. I have been checking this for weeks with my trusted Persian Gulf traders – and they all confirm it. Iran could go on doing it forever.

Of course, the Trump administration knows it. But the fact is they are looking the other way. To state it as concisely as possible: they are caught in a trap by the absolute folly of ditching the JCPOA, and they are looking for a face-saving way out. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned the administration in so many words: the US should return to the agreement it reneged on before it’s too late.

And now for the really hair-raising part.

The strike at Abqaiq shows that the entire Middle East production of over 18 million barrels of oil a day – including Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – can be easily knocked out. There is zero adequate defense against these drones and missiles.

Well, there’s always Russia.

Here’s what happened at the press conference after the Ankara summit this week on Syria, uniting Presidents Putin, Rouhani and Erdogan.

Question: Will Russia provide Saudi Arabia with any help or support in restoring its infrastructure?

President Putin: As for assisting Saudi Arabia, it is also written in the Quran that violence of any kind is illegitimate except when protecting one’s people. In order to protect them and the country, we are ready to provide the necessary assistance to Saudi Arabia. All the political leaders of Saudi Arabia have to do is take a wise decision, as Iran did by buying the S-300 missile system, and as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did when he bought Russia’s latest S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft system. They would offer reliable protection for any Saudi infrastructure facilities.

President Hassan Rouhani: So do they need to buy the S-300 or the S-400?

President Vladimir Putin: It is up to them to decide [laughs].

In The Transformation of War, Martin van Creveld actually predicted that the whole industrial-military-security complex would come crumbling down when it was exposed that most of its weapons are useless against fourth-generation asymmetrical opponents. There’s no question the whole Global South is watching – and will have gotten the message.

Hybrid war, reloaded

Now we are entering a whole new dimension in asymmetric hybrid war.

In the – horrendous – event that Washington would decide to attack Iran, egged on by the usual neocon suspects, the Pentagon could never hope to hit and disable all the Iranian and/or Yemeni drones. The US could expect, for sure, all-out war. And then no ships would sail through the Strait of Hormuz. We all know the consequences of that.

Which brings us to The Big Surprise. The real reason there would be no ships traversing the Strait of Hormuz is that there would be no oil in the Gulf left to pump. The oil fields, having been bombed, would be burning.

So we’re back to the realistic bottom line, which has been stressed by not only Moscow and Beijing but also Paris and Berlin: US President Donald Trump gambled big time, and he lost. Now he must find a face-saving way out. If the War Party allows it.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on Asia Times.

Pepe Escobar is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

All images in this article are from Asia Times unless otherwise stated

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.

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

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

عملية أرامكو… ومقايضة ساحات الاشتباك

عملية أرامكو… ومقايضة ساحات الاشتباك

سبتمبر 17, 2019

ناصر قنديل

يكفي ما قدّمه الأميركيون والسعوديون من وصف لعملية أرامكو لمعرفة التطوّر النوعي الذي مثّلته في الاشتباك الكبير القائم بين واشنطن ومن خلفها كل جماعاتها من جهة، ومحور المقاومة من جهة مقابلة. فهي تعريض الأمن والسلم الدوليين للخطر، وتهديد للاقتصاد العالمي، ومصدر لخطر خراب خدمات أساسية في السعودية كتأمين الكهرباء والماء والغاز والمشتقات النفطية، وهي سبب لتدهور أسواق الأسهم وارتفاع أسعار النفط، ولعجز السعودية عن ضخ ما يلزم لاستقرار هذه السوق ما استدعى أوامر الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب باستخدام الاحتياطي الاستراتيجي لمنع حدوث أزمة نفطيّة.

يمكن تفهم صعوبة تقبل الأميركيين والسعوديين لكون أنصار الله قد نجحوا بتنفيذ ضربتهم النوعية، وامتلكوا جرأة الإقدام عليها. فالضربة قاسية ومؤلمة ونوعية، وقبول أن أنصار الله وراءها يضع أميركا في موقع الفشل الكبير في حماية سوق الطاقة العالمي من الاضطراب، وقبول أن مَن أفشلهم هو بعض شعب محاصر منذ سنين يعني إتهامه بتهريب الأسلحة فشلاً في الحصار، والقبول بقدرته على التصنيع، تمجيداً لمكانته ومعنوياته ومقدراته. وقبول قدرته على خرق منظومات الرادار والصواريخ والمخابرات، إعلان هزيمة مدوّية لمنظومة تكلّف مئات مليارات الدولارات، يصعقها اليمنيون بمنظومة لا تكلّف إلا آلاف الدولارات، مضافاً إليها عامل تثقيل بستة أصفار هو الإرادة. والقبول بالتالي بأن إثارة قضية الأمن السعودي مشروطة بأمن اليمن وما يعنيه من وقف للعدوان والحصار.

الهروب الأميركي نحو اتهام إيران، لن يحسّن حال المعنويات الأميركية والسعودية إلا مؤقتاً باعتبار مَن استهدف أمنهم وقام بهزه وإفشاله، دولة كبرى في المنطقة وليست حركة فتيّة محاصرة، ويجنبهم ربط وقف الاستهدافات للأمن السعودي والنفطي بوقف العدوان والحصار على اليمن، لكنه سيطرح تحديات من نوع آخر، فهو يقول إن إيران أطلقت صواريخ كروز، وهذا يعني أن الحجة القديمة عن صعوبة ملاحقة الطائرات المسيّرة بالمنظومات الدفاعية الصاروخية يفقد معناه، طالما أن هذه المنظومة مصمّمة لمواجهة صواريخ الكروز، فماذا يعني فشلها؟ وهو يقول إن إيران تستفز واشنطن لاستدراجها إلى حرب، فماذا ستفعل واشنطن؟

الحقيقة أن محور المقاومة ككل، يدرك أن واشنطن وحلفاءها اختاروا ميداناً للمواجهة يملكون التفوق فيه وهو الحرب المالية، هرباً من ميدان قالت مواجهات السنوات الماضية إن محور المقاومة يتفوّق فيه وهو ميدان المواجهة العسكرية، لذلك يجب أن يعلم الأميركيون ومَن معهم أن محور المقاومة بكل مفرداته ومكوّناته، يذهب بوعي لإشعال ميدان المواجهة العسكرية، وصولاً للحظة مقايضة ساحات الاشتباك، وقف الحرب المالية مقابل وقف الحرب العسكرية، أو دخول الحربين معاً، فيربح المحور واحدة ويخسر واحدة، لكن خسارة واشنطن للحرب العسكرية ستسقط معها أشياء كثيرة سيكون مستحيلاً بعدها الحديث عن مكان لواشنطن وجماعاتها، ولتفادي ذلك عليها أن تصل لتسوية في الإثنتين، فتتفادى واشنطن وجماعاتها كأساً مرّة في الميدان العسكري، ويتخلص المحور من كأس مرّة في الميدان المالي، والآتي أعظم حتى تختار واشنطن، من إسقاط طائرة التجسس الأميركية العملاقة إلى أفيفيم إلى أرامكو.. وما بعد ما بعد أفيفيم وأرامكو!

Related Videos

Related Articles

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.

%d bloggers like this: