Attack on Saudi oil infrastructure brings Sunni-Shia conflict to a new level

A nightmare scenario is starting to unfold in the Middle East, as major damage has been inflicted on a huge oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia, cutting 5 million barrels a day of oil from world markets, and halving Saudi output. Iran-backed Shia Houthi insurgents, currently fighting a war with Sunni Saudi forces in Yemen, claimed responsibility, but the US is blaming Iran:

 

 

 

 

YouTube screen grab

Iran denies it. AFP:

Iran on Sunday dismissed US accusations it was behind drone attacks on Saudi oil installations, suggesting the United States was seeking a pretext to retaliate against the Islamic republic.

"Such fruitless and blind accusations and remarks are incomprehensible and meaningless," foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi was quoted as saying in a statement.

Why weren’t Saudi and American air defenses able to intercept the attack? Apparently, there was a “swarm” of 10 or more drones or cruise missiles, but even so, Israel’s Iron Dome system is able to intercept large numbers of incoming missiles.

 The Jerusalem Post:

The proximity to Bahrain, some 50 km. from the areas hit, leads to serious questions about how drones penetrated deep into Saudi airspace and hit the strategic facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais. The US Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, and America has air bases and other facilities along the Gulf from Kuwait to the UAE protected by its air defense. They also have radar that can detect threats more than 150 km. away, which should be able to detect drones. (snip)

 There are questions about how drones from Houthi rebel-held areas in Yemen could actually reach the area near Bahrain.

It appears they may have been launched from somewhere else. That leads to questions about why air defense didn’t intercept them or at least raise an alert. Video from Saudi Arabia allegedly includes sounds of gunfire against the drones. But gunfire at night against drones is ineffective. In addition, another video allegedly from Kuwait includes the noise of a “drone” passing overhead, although the sound resembles a jet engine rather than a UAV.

Saudi Arabia has been warning its allies about the drone threat since May. Visitors to King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah could see Houthi drones on display, reinforcing the message of their threat.

Oil prices are expected to jump, which will benefit Iran by higher prices and a greater incentive for customers to violate US sanctions and buy Iranian oil in a moment of reduced supply. Saudi Arabia’s Sunni Arab allies are vowing to work together in support, and will try to stabilize oil markets, presumably by adding additional output to markets. Saudi Arabia maintains redundant oil production and distribution facilities, and so may be able to quickly boost production elsewhere, though there is not enough to make up for a 50% reduction.

Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy National Security Advisor, failed fiction writer, and passionate supporter of the JCPOA deal that handed over a hundred billion dollars to the mullahs, leapt to their defense:

 

 

He's back to writing fiction. It is very doubtful the attack came from distant Houthi-held territory, and there is grave doubt that they cold on their own manage such a sophisticated attack.

Lindsey Graham among others is urging consideration of an attack on Iran

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Saturday that it’s time for the U.S. to weigh an attack on Iranian oil refineries if the nation continues its “provocations.” He warned that such a raid would “break the regime’s back.”

I am not certain that Iranian oil facilities would be the smartest targets, for world oil supply would be further reduced, and a retaliatory closure of the Strait of Hormuz would be even more likely. A full-scale oil war in the Persian Gulf could have catastrophic effects on oil customers, from rich industrialized economies that would see sudden, severe economic contraction to poor countries, unable to afford fertilizer, where people would start starving. Because Ian denies responsibility, it could portray, to its people and the world community, any US attack as unprovoked

Then, there is the question of Iranian nuclear capabilities. We think their nuclear program has not yet produced weapons-grade material, but would anyone be surprised if the mullahs had directed some of the billions that Obama supplied to the purchase of black-market weapons?

The Mullahs actively want Armageddon so their 12th Mahdi can return and bring about the end of the world.

So, this is a situation that could the nature of the modern world, almost overnight. Oil supply and consumption down a third or more, and possible, use of nuclear weapons, perhaps smuggled into a port in a container ship.

I wonder if Saudi Arabia is ready to import some Iron Dome defenses from Israel?

With John Bolton recently departed from the National Security Council, everything falls on the ample shoulders of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Did Bolton’s departure encourage the Iranians to unleash this attack? If so, that could have been a major error. President Trump does not need Bolton to tell him to "hit back ten times harder."

A nightmare scenario is starting to unfold in the Middle East, as major damage has been inflicted on a huge oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia, cutting 5 million barrels a day of oil from world markets, and halving Saudi output. Iran-backed Shia Houthi insurgents, currently fighting a war with Sunni Saudi forces in Yemen, claimed responsibility, but the US is blaming Iran:

 

 

 

 

YouTube screen grab

Iran denies it. AFP:

Iran on Sunday dismissed US accusations it was behind drone attacks on Saudi oil installations, suggesting the United States was seeking a pretext to retaliate against the Islamic republic.

"Such fruitless and blind accusations and remarks are incomprehensible and meaningless," foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi was quoted as saying in a statement.

Why weren’t Saudi and American air defenses able to intercept the attack? Apparently, there was a “swarm” of 10 or more drones or cruise missiles, but even so, Israel’s Iron Dome system is able to intercept large numbers of incoming missiles.

 The Jerusalem Post:

The proximity to Bahrain, some 50 km. from the areas hit, leads to serious questions about how drones penetrated deep into Saudi airspace and hit the strategic facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais. The US Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, and America has air bases and other facilities along the Gulf from Kuwait to the UAE protected by its air defense. They also have radar that can detect threats more than 150 km. away, which should be able to detect drones. (snip)

 There are questions about how drones from Houthi rebel-held areas in Yemen could actually reach the area near Bahrain.

It appears they may have been launched from somewhere else. That leads to questions about why air defense didn’t intercept them or at least raise an alert. Video from Saudi Arabia allegedly includes sounds of gunfire against the drones. But gunfire at night against drones is ineffective. In addition, another video allegedly from Kuwait includes the noise of a “drone” passing overhead, although the sound resembles a jet engine rather than a UAV.

Saudi Arabia has been warning its allies about the drone threat since May. Visitors to King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah could see Houthi drones on display, reinforcing the message of their threat.

Oil prices are expected to jump, which will benefit Iran by higher prices and a greater incentive for customers to violate US sanctions and buy Iranian oil in a moment of reduced supply. Saudi Arabia’s Sunni Arab allies are vowing to work together in support, and will try to stabilize oil markets, presumably by adding additional output to markets. Saudi Arabia maintains redundant oil production and distribution facilities, and so may be able to quickly boost production elsewhere, though there is not enough to make up for a 50% reduction.

Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy National Security Advisor, failed fiction writer, and passionate supporter of the JCPOA deal that handed over a hundred billion dollars to the mullahs, leapt to their defense:

 

 

He's back to writing fiction. It is very doubtful the attack came from distant Houthi-held territory, and there is grave doubt that they cold on their own manage such a sophisticated attack.

Lindsey Graham among others is urging consideration of an attack on Iran

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Saturday that it’s time for the U.S. to weigh an attack on Iranian oil refineries if the nation continues its “provocations.” He warned that such a raid would “break the regime’s back.”

I am not certain that Iranian oil facilities would be the smartest targets, for world oil supply would be further reduced, and a retaliatory closure of the Strait of Hormuz would be even more likely. A full-scale oil war in the Persian Gulf could have catastrophic effects on oil customers, from rich industrialized economies that would see sudden, severe economic contraction to poor countries, unable to afford fertilizer, where people would start starving. Because Ian denies responsibility, it could portray, to its people and the world community, any US attack as unprovoked

Then, there is the question of Iranian nuclear capabilities. We think their nuclear program has not yet produced weapons-grade material, but would anyone be surprised if the mullahs had directed some of the billions that Obama supplied to the purchase of black-market weapons?

The Mullahs actively want Armageddon so their 12th Mahdi can return and bring about the end of the world.

So, this is a situation that could the nature of the modern world, almost overnight. Oil supply and consumption down a third or more, and possible, use of nuclear weapons, perhaps smuggled into a port in a container ship.

I wonder if Saudi Arabia is ready to import some Iron Dome defenses from Israel?

With John Bolton recently departed from the National Security Council, everything falls on the ample shoulders of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Did Bolton’s departure encourage the Iranians to unleash this attack? If so, that could have been a major error. President Trump does not need Bolton to tell him to "hit back ten times harder."