Oil Profits for Protection: US Extorts Saudi Arabia

By Tony Cartalucci

Global Research, April 19, 2020

Legislation circulating in the US Congress threatens to withdraw military support from Saudi Arabia.

This is not because Saudi Arabia is an absolute dictatorship which still severs heads off in public. It is not because Saudi Arabia arms and funds some of the worst terrorist organizations on Earth – including Al Qaeda, its Syrian franchise Tahrir al-Sham – previously known as Jabhat Al Nusra, and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

And it’s not even because of Saudi Arabia’s years of committing war crimes in neighboring Yemen.

These are all aspects of modern Saudi Arabia the US has in fact aided and abetted.

Instead, US representatives are threatening to withdraw US military support from Saudi Arabia for allegedly lowering energy prices by flooding markets with Saudi oil.

Reuters in its article, “Bill would remove US troops from Saudi Arabia in 30 days,” would claim:

A Republican US senator introduced legislation on Thursday to remove American troops from Saudi Arabia, adding pressure on the kingdom to tighten its oil taps to reverse the crude price drop that has hurt domestic energy companies.

The threat of yanking out military support from Saudi Arabia undermines decades of propaganda attempting to justify US military support for the Saudi regime.

According to the US State Department’s own website under a section titled, “US Relations With Saudi Arabia,” the US supports Saudi Arabia because (emphasis added):

The United States and Saudi Arabia have a common interest in preserving the stability, security, and prosperity of the Gulf region and consult closely on a wide range of regional and global issues.  Saudi Arabia plays an important role in working toward a peaceful and prosperous future for the region and is a strong partner in security and counterterrorism efforts and in military, diplomatic, and financial cooperation.  Its forces works closely with US military and law enforcement bodies to safeguard both countries’ national security interests.Securing US Interests Through US Military Build-up in Saudi Arabia

If anything the US State Department says about US-Saudi relations is true – “preserving the stability, security, and prosperity of the Gulf region” must surely come first and foremost – especially ahead of something as trivial as oil profits for America’s domestic shale industry.

Of course, very little the US State Department says is ever true. US ties with Saudi Arabia have helped drive precisely the opposite of stability, security, and prosperity for both the Persian Gulf region as well as the wider Middle East and even as far as North Africa and Central Asia – with both nations playing leading roles in destabilizing and destroying nations, fueling extremism, separatism, and terrorism, and even engaging in direct military aggression.

Because of the dubious nature of US-Saudi ties and the true agenda of money and power that defines them – there should be little surprise that at moments of opportunity, these two “allies” draw geopolitical and economic daggers against one another.

The US threatening to withdraw military support from Saudi Arabia would leave Riyadh particularly vulnerable in the many proxy wars it wages on Washington’s behalf against Iran, Syria, Yemen, and beyond. Of course – the ultimate loser would be Washington itself – which would be further isolating itself in a region increasingly slipping out from under its control.

The US finds itself trying to prioritize its various rackets – its domestic shale gas industry versus its protection rackets abroad, versus its profitable and endless wars, versus maintaining a collection of obedient client regimes around the globe.

But by threatening Saudi Arabia – whether the threat is empty or not – Washington once again reveals to the world that it maintains an international order exclusively serving special interests – using platitudes like “preserving the stability, security, and prosperity of the Gulf region” as an increasingly tenuous facade behind which it advances its self-serving agenda.

Saudi Arabia – despite its many, many sins and from a realist point of view – must begin seriously thinking about a major overhaul of its economic, political, diplomatic, and military alignment within the region and world. As multipolarism moves forward and the tired unipolar order Riyadh belongs to – subordinated to Washington – continues to fade, the threats Riyadh faces will increase as will the cost of being an American “ally.”

When Washington begins turning the screws on Riyadh, it does however open a window of opportunity for nations like Russia and China who are looking to improve and expand ties with Saudi Arabia and lead it toward a more constructive role upon the international stage.

It also opens a window of opportunity for nations like Iran – who are perceived as enemies of Saudi Arabia – but who would benefit greatly from a Saudi Arabia that no longer serves US interests and instead truly seeks to preserve “the stability, security, and prosperity” of the region – side-by-side with other nations that actually are located there – not a nation located oceans and continents away.

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Tony Cartalucci is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from NEOThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Tony Cartalucci, Global Research, 2020

TRUMP IS BEING PUSHED TO CONFLICT WITH RUSSIA AMID ESCALATING OIL WAR

South Front

Trump Is Being Pushed To Conflict With Russia Amid Escalating Oil War
ILLUSTRATIVE IMAGE
On March 10th, Kuwait and Iraq, as well as the UAE joined Saudi Arabia in reducing oil prices. Iraq cut the official selling price for its Basrah Light crude for buyers in Asia by $5 a barrel for April shipments.
That’s less than the $6 reduction for Aramco’s comparable Arab Medium grade. Kuwait reduced its selling price to Asian customers by the same as the Saudis.
The UAE, the only major producer that still sets prices retroactively, lowered the cost of its four grades for February sales by $1.63 a barrel from January.
“Any price war to acquire the largest market share does not serve the interests of the producing countries,” Iraqi Oil Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said. His country is trying to bridge oil producers’ viewpoints to reach a deal to stabilize and rebalance markets, he said in a statement.
Iraq’s state oil-marketing company, SOMO, plans to increase exports in April, according to an unnamed person, cited by Bloomberg.
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Kuwait set its April Export Crude OSP for Asian customers at a $4.65 a barrel discount to the regional benchmark, according to a price list seen by Bloomberg. That’s 60 cents lower than Aramco’s Arab Medium and $1.45 below than Iraq’s Basrah Light to the region. Kuwait’s exports to Northwest Europe were set at a record-low of a $12.60 discount.
Meanwhile, Riyadh is continuing on its “warpath” and is about to flood Europe with crude oil at a price of about $25 per barrel. The Saudi shipments, coupled with unprecedented discounts, are turning the European oil market into a major price battlefield.
Diplomatic and OPEC sources quoted by mainstream media directly say that the ongoing Saudi-led effort to crush the oil market is a pre-planned ‘agressive campaign’ against Russia. One of the main targets is the Russian ability to sale oil to Europe. The fall of oil prices allready caused a major fall of the Russian ruble and impacted negatively the Russian economy.
Trump Is Being Pushed To Conflict With Russia Amid Escalating Oil War
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European refiners including Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc, Total SA, OMV AG, Repsol SA and Cepsa SA have all received crude allocations from state-owned Saudi Aramco significantly above their normal levels, according to sources cited by Bloomberg.

The increase in volumes, known in the industry as nominations, was confirmed by Aramco to the European oil companies on Wednesday, the same people said, asking not to be named discussing private information. One of Europe’s major refiners got double its normal allocation, an unnamed source said.

Aramco cut its official selling prices by the biggest amount in more than three decades. The company made its biggest cuts for buyers in northwest Europe. An $8 a barrel reduction in most grades amounts to a direct challenge to Russia, which sells a large chunk of its flagship Urals crude in the same region.

Aramco will sell Arab Light at an unprecedented $10.25 a barrel discount to Brent in Europe.
Discounts for Russian crude immediately ballooned. Vitol Group and Trafigura Group Ltd. failed to find buyers on March 9th when they offered to sell Urals crude at the deepest discounts to a regional benchmark in almost two months.
Currently, the two countries who are suffering most from the oil war are Russia and Iran, both are also under heavy sanctions by the US. Iran’s oil sector is especially crippled owing to Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign.
In Iraq, which as above mentioned is a major oil producer, a camp housing US-led coalition troops was hit by more than a dozen Katyusha rockets. The Taji base was hit and two US marines, as well as a British soldier were killed in the attack.
“Three Coalition personnel were killed during a rocket attack on Camp Taji, Iraq, March 11. The names of the personnel are withheld pending next of kin notification, in accordance with national policies,” the statement said.
“Approximately 12 additional personnel were wounded during the attack. The attack is under investigation by the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces. Camp Taji is an Iraqi base that hosts Coalition personnel for training and advising missions,” it added.
A spokesperson for the UK Ministry of Defense said, “We can confirm we are aware of an incident involving UK service personnel at Camp Taji, Iraq. An investigation is underway, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
Iraq is a hot point in tensions between the US and Iran.

Furthermore, on March 11th, the US House of Representatives approved War Powers resolution, which would require US President Donald Trump receive Congressional approvement for any attacks launched against Iran. He is, however, likely to veto it.

Regardless, this means that if, for example, Yemen’s Houthis strike Aramco’s infrastructure again, and both Riyadh and Washington blame Iran, Trump will have less options in the military sphere and face much more political pressure if he opts such a move. So, one could say that the Washington political establishment is limiting the freedom of actions of the Trump administration against Iran, but, at the same time, keeps the window of opportunities for anti-Russian actions open.

Taking into account that recentl US threatened Russia with more sanctions (this time over the situation in Idlib) and the US mainstream media is in the state of constant anti-Russian hysteria, US ‘experts and analysis’ will easily find the ‘Russian trace’ in any escalation in the Middle East or any other place around the world. They already found that the Kremlin should be blamed for the ongoing oil prices collapse, despite Russia being one of the most affected parties. This happens amid the ongoing consitutional reform in Russia itself. Pro-Western forces inside Russia and the neo-liberal part of the Russian elites are actively trying to use this reform to destabilize the situation in the country and turn its course in what they call the ‘right direction’ (the surrender of the national interests to the global capital). These forces as well as their foreign backers are openly interested in the escalation of tensions between the United States and Russia.

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How black swans are shaping planet panic

March 11, 2020

by Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

Is the planet under the spell of a pair of black swans – a Wall Street meltdown, caused by an alleged oil war between Russia and the House of Saud, plus the uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 – leading to an all-out “cross-asset pandemonium” as billed by Nomura?

Or, as German analyst Peter Spengler suggests, whatever the averted climax in the Strait of Hormuz has not brought about so far “might now come through market forces”?

Let’s start with what really happened after five hours of relatively polite discussions last Friday in Vienna. What turned into a de facto OPEC+ meltdown was quite the game-changing plot twist.

OPEC+ includes Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Essentially, after enduring years of OPEC price-fixing – the result of relentless US pressure over Saudi Arabia – while patiently rebuilding its foreign exchange reserves, Moscow saw the perfect window of opportunity to strike, targeting the US shale industry.

Shares of some of these US producers plunged as much as 50% on “Black Monday.” They simply cannot survive with a barrel of oil in the $30s – and that’s where this is going. After all these companies are drowning in debt.

A $30 barrel of oil has to be seen as a precious gift/stimulus package for a global economy in turmoil – especially from the point of view of oil importers and consumers. This is what Russia made possible.

And the stimulus may last for a while. Russia’s National Wealth Fund has made it clear it has enough reserves (over $150 billion) to cover a budget deficit from six to ten years – even with oil at $25 a barrel. Goldman Sachs has already gamed a possible Brent crude at $20 a barrel.

As Persian Gulf traders stress, the key to what is perceived in the US as an “oil war” between Moscow and Riyadh is mostly about derivatives. Essentially, banks won’t be able to pay those speculators who hold derivative insurance against a steep decline in the price of oil. Added stress comes from traders panicking with Covid-19 spreading across nations that are visibly unprepared to deal with it.

Watch the Russian game

Moscow must have gamed beforehand that Russian stocks traded in London – such as Gazprom, Rosneft, Novatek and Gazprom Neft – would collapse. According to Lukoil’s co-owner Leonid Fedun, Russia may lose up to $150 million a day from now on. The question is for how long this will be acceptable.

Still, from the beginning Rosneft’s position was that for Russia, the deal with OPEC+ was “meaningless” and only “cleared the way” for American shale oil.

The consensus among Russian energy giants was that the current market setup – massive “negative oil demand,”positive “supply shock” and no swing producer – inevitably had to crash the price of oil. They were watching, helplessly, as the US was already selling oil for a lower price than OPEC.

Moscow’s move against the US fracking industry was payback for the Trump administration messing with Nord Stream 2. The inevitable, steep devaluation of the ruble was gamed.

Still, what happened post-Vienna essentially has little to do with a Russia-Saudi trade war. The Russian Energy Ministry is phlegmatic: Move on, nothing to see here. Riyadh, significantly, has been emitting signs the OPEC+ deal may be back in the cards in the near future. A feasible scenario is that this sort of shock therapy will go on until 2022, and then Russia and OPEC will be back to the table to work out a new deal.

There are no definitive numbers, but the oil market accounts for less than 10% of Russia’s GDP (it used to be 16% in 2012). Iran’s oil exports in 2019 plunged by a whopping 70 %, and still Tehran was able to adapt. Yet oil accounts for over 50% of Saudi GDP. Riyadh needs oil at no less than $85 a barrel to pay its bills. The 2020 budget, with crude priced at $62-63 a barrel, still has a $ 50 billion deficit.

Aramco says it will be offering no fewer than 300,000 barrels of oil a day beyond its “maximum sustained capacity” starting April 1. It says it will be able to produce a whopping 12.3 million barrels a day.

Persian Gulf traders say openly that this is unsustainable. It is. But the House of Saud, in desperation, will be digging into its strategic reserves to dump as much crude as possible as soon as possible – and keep the price war full tilt. The (oily) irony is that the top price war victims are an industry belonging to the American protector.

Saudi-occupied Arabia is a mess. King Salman is in a coma. Every grain of sand in the Nefud desert knows Jared of Arabia Kushner’s whatsapp pal MBS has been de facto ruler for the past five years, but the timing of his new purge in Riyadh speaks volumes. Princes Mohammed bin Nayef, the king’s nephew, and Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, his younger brother, are now really in detention.

The CIA is fuming: Nayef was and remains Langley’s top asset. When Saudi regime spin denounced “Americans” as partners in a possible coup against MBS, that word needed to be read as “CIA.” It’s just a matter of time before the US Deep State, in conjunction with disgruntled National Guard elements, comes for MBS’s head – even as he articulates taking over total power before the G-20 in Riyadh next November.

Black Hawk down?

So what happens next? Amid a tsunami of scenarios, from New York to all points Asia, the most optimistic say that China is about to win the “people’s war” against Covid-19 – and the latest figures confirm it. In this case, global oil demand may increase by at least 480,000 barrels a day.

Well, that’s way more complicated.

The game now points to a confluence of Wall Street in panic; Covid-19 mass hysteria; lingering, myriad aftershocks of Trump’s global trade mess; the US election circus; total political instability in Europe. These interlocked crises do spell Perfect Storm. Yet the market angle is easily explained: that may be the beginning of the end of Wall Street artificially inflated by tens of trillions of US dollars pumped by the Fed through quantitative easings and repos since 2008. Call it the calling of the central bankers’ bluff.

A case can be made that the current financial panic will only subside when the ultimate black swan – Covid-19 – is contained. Borrowing from the famous Hollywood adage, “No one knows anything,” all bets are off. Amid thick fog, and discounting the usual amount of disinformation, a Rabobank analyst, among others, came up with four plausible Covid-19 scenarios. He now reckons it’s getting “ugly” and the fourth scenario – the “unthinkable” – is not far-fetched anymore.

This implies a global economic crisis of, yes, unthinkable magnitude.

To a great extent it will all depend on how fast China – the inescapable crucial link in the global just-in-time supply chain – gets back to a new normal, offsetting interminable weeks of serial lockdowns.

Despised, discriminated against, demonized 24/7 by the “system leader,” China has gone full Nietzsche – about to prove that whatever does not kill you makes you stronger when it comes to a “people’s war” against Covid-19. On the US front, there’s scant hope that the gleaming Black “helicopter money” Hawk will crash down for good. The ultimate Black Swan will have the last word.

Saudi-Initiated All-Out Oil War Could Lead To Collapse Of Kingdom Itself

South Front

Saudi Arabia launched an all-out oil war offering unprecedented discounts and flooding the market in an attempt to capture a larger share and defeat other oil producers. This “scorched earth” approach caused the biggest oil price fall since the war in the Persian Gulf in 1991.

It all began on March 8 when Riyadh cut its April pricing for crude sales to Asia by $4-$6 a barrel and to the U.S. by $7 a barrel. The Kingdom expanded the discount for its flagship Arab Light crude to refiners in northwest Europe by $8 a barrel offering it at $10.25 a barrel under the Brent benchmark. In comparison, Russia’s Urals crude trades at a discount of about $2 a barrel under Brent. These actions became an attack at the ability of Russia to sell crude in Europe. The Russian ruble immediately plummeted almost 10% falling to its lowest level in more than four years.

Another side that suffered from Saudi actions is Iran. The Islamic country is facing a strong US sanctions pressure and often selling its oil via complex schemes and with notable discounts already.

Saudi Arabia is planning to increase its output above 10 million barrel per day. Currently, it pumps 9.7 million barrels per day, but has the capacity to ramp up to 12.5 million barrels per day. According to OPEC and Saudi sources of The Wall Street Journal, Riyadh’s actions are part of an “aggressive campaign” against Moscow.

The formal pretext of this campaign became the inability of the OPEC+ (a meeting of representatives of member states of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC members) to extend output agreements.

Saudi Arabia was seeking up to 1.5 million b/d in further oil production cuts, but this proposal was rejected by Russia. After the inability to reach the new OPEC+ deal, Saudi Arabia became the frist and only power that took aggressive actions on the market. However, it is hard to imagine that Saudi Arabia would go for such an escalation without at least an order or approval from Washington.

This came amid the detention of two senior members of the Saudi royal family – Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the younger brother of King Salman, and Mohammed bin Nayef, the king’s nephew – on March 7. This development took place just ahead of the Saudi offensive on the oil market, and was likely a tip of the ongoing undercover struggle between the pro-US and pro-national factions of the Saudi elites; and the pro-US bloc seems to have the upper hand in this conflict.

In this case, the real goal of the Saudi campaign is not only to secure larger share of the oil market and punish Moscow for its unwillingness to accept the proposed OPEC+ deal, but to deliver a powerful blow to Washington’s geopolitical opponents: Russia and Iran. Pro-Western and anti-government forces existing in both Russia and Iran would try to exploit this situation to destabilize the internal situation in the countries.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia may soon find out that its actions have backfired. Such economic and geopolitical games amid the acute conflict with Iran, military setbacks in Yemen and the increasing regional standoff with the UAE could cost too much for the Kingdom itself.

If the oil prices fall any further and reach $20 per barrel, this will lead to unacceptable economic losses for Russia and Iran, and they could and will likely opt to use nonmarket tools of influencing the Saudi behavior. These options include the increasing support to Yemen’s Houthis with intelligence, weapons, money, and even military advisers, that will lead to the resumption of Houthi strikes on Saudi oil infrastructure.

On top of these, the Saudi leadership may suddenly find that the internal situation in the Kingdom is being worsened by large-scale protests rapidly turning into an open civil conflict.

Such a scenario is no secret for international financial analysts. On March 8, shares of Saudi state oil company Aramco slumped below their initial public offering (IPO) and closed 9.1% lower. On March 9, it continued the fall plunging another 10%.  There appears to be a lack of buyers. The risks are too obvious.

At the same time, the range of possible US actions in support of Saudi Arabia in the event of such an escalation is limited by the ongoing presidential campaign. Earlier, President Donald Trump demonstrated that a US military base could become a target of direct missile strike and Washington will not order a direct military action in response. Taking into account other examples of the US current approach towards non-Israeli allies, Riyadh should not expect any real support from its American allies in this standoff.

اليمن يستقبل بومبيو بالصواريخ والمسيّرات: ينبع تحت النار

اليمن تقرير الأخبار السبت 22 شباط 2020

تمثّل عملية ينبع قفزة نوعية إضافية في مسار «عام الحسم» (أ ف ب )

بعد عمليتَي «توازن الردع» الأولى والثانية اليمنيتَين، جاءت العملية الثالثة التي استهدفت مواقع حيوية في محافظة ينبع السعودية على البحر الأحمر، لتُبطِل رهانات الرياض، ومِن خَلفها واشنطن، على إمكانية إخضاع اليمنيين بسياسة الخداع التي امتدّت على مرّ الأشهر الماضية، ولتثبت استعداد الجيش اليمني واللجان الشعبية للذهاب بعيداً في استراتيجية الهجوم التدريجيعشية اجتماع وزراء المالية ومحافظي البنوك المركزية في «مجموعة العشرين» في الرياض، وتزامناً مع زيارة وزير الخارجية الأميركي مايك بومبيو إلى السعودية والتي طغت عليها المواقف التصعيدية، أوصلت قيادة صنعاء رسالة «توازن الردع الثالثة»، باستهدافها مواقع حيوية في محافظة ينبع السعودية على البحر الأحمر. رسالةٌ، وإن جاءت ردّاً على المجزرة التي أودت بحياة 40 مدنياً معظمهم نساء وأطفال في مديرية المصلوب بالجوف (15 شباط/ فبراير الجاري) والتي ارتكبها «التحالف» انتقاماً لإسقاط الجيش اليمني واللجان الشعبية طائرة «تورنيدو» تابعة له، إلا أنها في سياقها الأعمّ تأتي كتحذير للرياض وواشنطن من أن سياسة «شراء الوقت» لا يمكن أن تستمرّ إلى ما لا نهاية، ومحاولة لإفهامهما بأن الاعتقاد بقدرتهما على تحييد «أنصار الله» بالمماطلة والتسويف لا يعدو كونه وهماً.

وفي عملية هي الأولى من نوعها منذ دخول المبادرة التي أعلنها رئيس «المجلس السياسي الأعلى» في صنعاء، مهدي المشاط، في الـ20 من أيلول الماضي، والتي اقترحت وقف استهداف السعودية بالطائرات المسيّرة والصواريخ الباليستية مقابل وقف غارات طيران «التحالف» على الأراضي اليمنية، نفذت قوة الصواريخ وسلاح الجوّ المسيّر في الجيش اليمني عملية نوعية ضدّ ثمانية أهداف في عمق المدينة الصناعية السعودية في ينبع. ووفقاً لمصادر عسكرية في صنعاء تحدّثت إلى «الأخبار»، فإن من بين تلك الأهداف «محطة تصدير الزيت، ومصفاة أرامكو التي تنتج قرابة 2.5 مليون برميل نفط يومياً، ومصنع الغاز الطبيعي، وميناء ينبع القادر على تصدير 3 ملايين برميل نفط يومياً، وأيضاً تصدير مشتقات النفط والبتروكيماويات». وقالت المصادر إن «الأضرار كبيرة وفادحة، ولكن الجانب السعودي كعادته يرفض الاعتراف»، لافتاً إلى أن «استهداف منشآت على بعد قرابة 1000 كيلومتر من الحدود اليمنية يُعدّ رسالة واضحة على السعودية أن تفهمهما جيّداً، فما بعد ينبع سيكون أشدّ إيلاماً للنظام السعودي». من جهته، كشف المتحدث باسم القوات المسلحة اليمنية، العميد يحيى سريع، أن العملية نُفّذت باستخدام 12 طائرة مسيّرة من طراز «صماد 3»، وصاروخين مجنّحَين من نوع «قدس»، وصاروخ باليستي بعيد المدى من طراز «ذو الفقار»، لافتاً إلى أن الضربة جاءت «في إطار الردّ الطبيعي والمشروعِ على جرائم العدوان»، متوعّداً النظام السعودي بـ«ضربات موجعة ومؤلمة إذا استمرّ في عدوانه وحصاره». وفي الاتجاه نفسه، أكد الناطق باسم «أنصار الله»، رئيس وفدها التفاوضي محمد عبد السلام، أن «استهداف عمق مملكة العدوان يأتي في إطار الردّ الطبيعي والمشروع»، جازماً أن «شعبنا اليمني لن يتخلّى عن حق الردّ، ولن يسمح للعدو بأن يستبيح دمه من دون تدفيعه الثمن».

استُخدمت في العملية 12 طائرة مسيّرة وثلاثة صواريخ

في المقابل، اكتفى المتحدث باسم «التحالف»، تركي المالكي، بالقول إن «قوات الدفاع الجوي الملكي السعودي اعترضت صواريخ باليستية أطلقتها الميليشيا الحوثية الإرهابية المدعومة من إيران باتجاه مدن سعودية»، وفق ما نقلت عنه وكالة الأنباء الرسمية. وفيما أغارت طائرات «التحالف»، في أعقاب العملية، على مديريتَي نهم في صنعاء ومجزر في مأرب فضلاً عن قرى حدودية في محافظة صعدة، أجبرت السلطات السعودية عشرات الناشطين على حذف مشاهد الانفجارات في ينبع (والتي استمرّت لأكثر من نصف ساعة) مِن على حساباتهم، مُتوعّدة مَن يبقيها منهم بالعقوبات. وتأتي عملية ينبع لتبطل حسابات السعودية التي راهنت على إمكانية استغلال مبادرة المشاط، من أجل إرساء هدنة موقّتة تخوّلها تمرير استحقاقات داهمة على المستويين الداخلي والخارجي. حساباتٌ لمسها مفاوضو «أنصار الله» بوضوح أثناء المفاوضات التي جرت في خلال الأشهر الماضية على أكثر من مستوى وفي غير مكان، حيث وجدوا أن الرياض تحاول انتزاع تهدئة مجانية، وبسقف زمني مفتوح، من دون إبداء استعداد لأيّ خطوة جدّية من شأنها التمهيد لوقف العدوان ورفع الحصار والانخراط في مفاوضات سياسية وأمنية وعلنية. ولعلّ هذا هو ما عناه عضو وفد صنعاء التفاوضي، عبد الملك العجري، بقوله أمس إن «دول العدوان تثبت يوماً بعد آخر أنها غير قادرة على التعافي من تقديراتها الخاطئة»، وإنها «تخطئ مرة أخرى في النظر إلى مبادراتنا الإيجابية على أنها مجرد فرصة للدخول في تلهية تكتيكية… وترتيب أوضاعها الداخلية واستكمال الحصار».

وعلى مرّ الأشهر التي أعقبت إعلان مبادرة «المجلس السياسي الأعلى»، والتي جاءت على إثر عملية «توازن الردع الثانية» ضدّ منشأتَي «أرامكو» في بقيق وخريص شرقي السعودية (أدّت إلى تعطّل نصف الإنتاج السعودي من النفط)، لم ترسل المملكة أيّ إشارة إلى نيّتها التوطئة لإنهاء الحرب. إذ كان جلّ ما أقدمت عليه خطوتين يتيمتين: تمثّلت أولاهما في الموافقة على تسليم 200 مقاتل من «أنصار الله» مقابل إطلاق الأخيرة سراح عدد من الجنود السعوديين، ومع ذلك نكثت الرياض بعهدها ولم تطلق سوى 130 أسيراً يمنياً. أما الخطوة الثانية فهي قبول فتح جسر جوي طبّي لنقل المرضى من صنعاء إلى عمّان والقاهرة، لكن لم تُنفّذ من هذا الجسر سوى رحلة واحدة فقط في بداية الشهر الجاري، قبل أن تعلن «منظمة الصحة العالمية» تعثّر انطلاق الرحلة الثانية لأسباب وصفتها بـ«الفنية»، فيما هي في الحقيقة أسباب سياسية مرتبطة بإرادة السعودية إبقاء اليمن تحت الحصار الكامل.

وتمثل عملية ينبع قفزة نوعية إضافية في مسار «عام الحسم» (العام الخامس من العدوان) الذي انتقلت فيه «أنصار الله» من وضعية الدفاع البحت إلى وضعية الهجوم التدريجي، بدءاً من التقدّم الملحوظ في محافظتَي البيضاء والضالع، مروراً بالقضاء على التمرّد في منطقة الحجور في محافظة حجة، وصولاً إلى عملية «نصر من الله» في وادي آل جبارة في كتاف بصعدة، وليس انتهاءً بعملية «البيان المرصوص» في فرضة نهم ومديريات في الجوف ومأرب. وكان العميد سريع، أعلن، أواخر العام الماضي، عن بنك أهداف جديدة يشمل 6 مواقع «بالغة الأهمية» في السعودية، و3 مواقع في الإمارات، مُتوعّداً بـ«توسيع الأهداف لتشمل مراكز حيوية وحسّاسة على طول وعرض جغرافيا دول العدوان».

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Yemen’s Operation ‘Firm Structure’: 1500 Militants Killed, 1830 Injured, Hundreds Detained

Translated by Staff

Yemeni Armed Forces Spokesman Brigadier General Yehya Saree held a press conference to announce details of the Operation ‘Firm Structure’ noting the operating started with confronting the Saudi-led aggression’s escalation.

Saree explained that Nihm witnessed military operations by the aggression forces, which pushed our forces to deal seriously with this threat.

In light of the success in the operation, the Yemeni forces went forward in their counter offensive along the operations field, Saree added.

“The main goal of the ‘Firm Structure’ operation was to deter the enemy forces and expel them out of the region, eventually securing the area entirely.”

Operation ‘Firm Structure’, Saree said, aimed at thwarting the offensive against our forces and advance towards the areas close to the capital Sanaa.

According the Yemeni Armed Forces intelligence, the enemy has been preparing for this operation since months ago, with the aim to reach the nearest area linked to Sanaa.

The enemy forces in Nihm were composed of 17 brigades, and a number of battalions that was supplied with different kinds of weapons, the statement added.

“An entire military zone of the enemy used Nihm as its platform,” Saree said, adding that Special Forces of the countries of the coalition of aggression were in charge of fire and intelligence support of the mercenaries force in Nihm.

Nihm is a mountainous area with complicated topography, Saree said, a matter that pushed the Yemeni Armed Forces to deploy Special Forces in the first days of the battle.

After the successful confrontation of the enemy forces’ offensive, the Yemeni Forces started a military offensive that was based on the collapse of the enemy’s forefronts, allowing our forces to advance towards the strategic heights, Saree added.

The Yemeni Forces, he added, succeeded in the operational duties in the first hours of the operation, before which the command ordered surrounding the enemy forces from different eastern and western tracks.

In the first three days of the operation, Saree explained, the Yemeni armed Forces secured most of the Nihm area, which include all of strategic sites.

The offensive was from the all four main sides and all branches which resulted in different tracks.

The Yemeni forces were keen to surround the enemy forces inclusively while opening other tracks to allow the most possible number of mercenaries flee the place.

Saree went on to say that the Yemeni Armed Forces made military pressure on all enemy’s sites and camps to force them to surrender.

At the same time, the Yemeni Armed Forces were keen on the Yemenis’ lives at the enemy’s sites, namely those who showed readiness to flee the battlefield.

They also succeeded in dealing with the enemy’s forces in clashes and direct fighting after giving them the chance to flee.

“With the defeat of the enemy forces, the Yemeni Armed Forces continued to advance beyond Nihm,” Saree stated.

As the Yemeni Forces were keen to save lives of the mercenaries, thousands of them were able to flee the battlefield in the first days.

The enemy’s warplanes, meanwhile, waged more than 250 strikes against the Yemeni Forces.

Elaborating on the Aerial Defense Units’ role in the Operation ‘Firm Structure’, Saree said the Fatir-1 missile system played a crucial role in confusing the warplanes and preventing them from launching airstrikes.

He further noted than the Aerial Defense system carried out more than 25 operations forcing the enemy’s aircrafts to leave the area.

“The command’s instructions were clear to strike Saudi facilities and military bases in response to the airstrikes.”

He also explained that the Rocketry Force and the Propelled Ai Force targeted many airports the enemy uses for military purposes, while the missile and aerial strikes targeted airports in Najran and Jizan in addition to targeting the Khamis Mushait base with a number of missiles.

Their first operations, he noted, only represented a warning, but the continuity of air bombing led to targeting an economic target of Aramco Company, in addition to two sensitive targets in the enemy’s depth. Saree also noted that the aforementioned forces played a crucial role reflecting the command’s instructions related to the deterrence strategy.

In further details, he said they carried out more than 41 inside and outside operations between January 25th and 30th. As part of their role, the Rocketry Force and the Propelled Air Force carried out 26 operations targeting the airports of Abha, Jizan and Najran. They also targeted Khamis Mushait base, Aramco Company and sensitive sites in the Saudi depth.

Saree noted that the Operation ‘Firm Structure’ led to a major defeat in the enemy’s lines, while hundreds of the mercenaries fled the area.

The major achievement of the Yemeni Armed Forces was securing Nihm in the first days of the operation. Saree also stated that the Yemeni forces reached al-Jawf and advanced inside al-Jawf Province, clashing with the forces that were in the same area.

The Yemeni Armed Forces, meanwhile, started another offensive in al-Jawf to liberate the provinces of al-Jawf and Ma’rib. Saree told the press conference that the liberation of those two provinces, in addition to Nihm, occupied an area of 25002 kilometers.

Relatively, Saree hailed the patriotic stance of the tribesmen, which mainly contributed to the liberation of many areas located in the field of the operation.

“The Al-Hazm Directorate, which includes the capital of al-Jawf was an area of confrontation, as well as some parts of the directorates of Ghayl and Madghal in Ma’rib,” Saree said.

The Operation ‘Firm Structure’ boosted our forces in their forefronts close to Ma’rib, Saree said, adding that more than 3500 members were either killed, injured or detained. He made clear that the bodies of 1500 killed militants are still in the operations’ field.

According to Saree, 1830 of them were injured, in addition to hundreds of others who were detained.

He concluded his conference as saying that due to the big number of those killed, the command ordered the formation of humanitarian committees whose role is to document details about all bodies.

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Syria: Saudi Troops Deployed to Protect Aramco Experts at Oil Field

Saudi troops [SGT. H. H. DEFFNER/Wikipedia]
Global Research, December 24, 2019
Middle East Monitor 23 December 2019

Saudi Arabia has deployed “dozens” of soldiers to a major oil field in eastern Syria’s Deir Ez-Zor in an  apparent effort to protect the group of Saudi and Egyptian Aramco experts who arrived in the area the previous week, reports have said.

According to the Arabic service of the Anadolu Agency, local sources said that the Saudi soldiers arrived at Al-Omar oil field aboard helicopters. The source also added that this coincided with the arrival of about 30 trucks carrying drilling and digging equipment, which entered Syrian territory from northern Iraq.

The Al-Omar oil field is the largest in the country, which was once seized by Daesh, it is currently under the control of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (formerly YPG), although there has been an increase in American troops being deployed in the area.

It is understood that investments will be made through contracts signed between Aramco and the US government whose own armed forces have steadily been increasing their military presence around the oil fields. Despite initially claiming to scale back troops from Syria, US President Donald Trump announced in October that America had “secured” and taken control of the oil in the Middle East.

The Syrian government, which has not authorised American military presence within its territory, has accused the US of “plundering” the country’s oil resources. Earlier today, the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Muallem met with his Russian counterpart in Moscow Sergey Lavrov affirming the need for a political solution to the crisis in Syria and mentioned the “looting” of Syrian oil by the US.

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Featured image: Saudi troops [SGT. H. H. DEFFNER/Wikipedia]

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