There's an interesting article in the American Conservative regarding the attack on Saudi Arabia that temporarily took out 50% of Saudi oil refinery capability.
Gareth Porter at the American Conservative makes a good case Evidence of Iran’s Role in Attack Doesn’t Matter.
A set of complex issues related to different Iranian and Houthi weapons systems and other forensic evidence surrounding the destruction at Abqaiq will be the center of attention in the coming days. The forensic evidence presented by the administration may be weak or persuasive, but in either case, it would be a strategic mistake for those who oppose the war in Yemen and America’s involvement in it to make this the story.
It is obvious that whatever the precise nature of the strike, Iran likely played a role in both creating the drones and/or cruise missiles involved and in the strategic rationale for it. But one can argue that both the Houthis and Iran had legitimate reasons for carrying out such a strike.
For the Houthis, it was to force Saudi Arabia to stop its systematic war on the civilian population in the Houthi-controlled zone of Yemen and its denial of its ability to obtain basic goods by air and sea; for the Iranians it was to force the United States to end its blockade of Iran’s economy through pressure on Iran’s customers. Saudi Arabia has violated the most fundamental principles of international law in its aggressive war to change the regime in Yemen, since it was not under attack by the Houthis when it launched that war. Efforts to end the conflict through resistance, negotiation, and strikes on lesser targets in Saudi Arabia had failed to halt what has been broadly regarded around the world as a criminal war.
For Iran, on the other hand, the Abqiaq strike was an absolutely necessary step to signal to the United States that it cannot not continue its assault on the Iranian economy without very serious repercussions. And the timing of the strike is almost certainly the result of the sequence of aggressive, offensive U.S. moves against Iran’s most vital interests ever since the Trump administration tore up the deal on Iran’s nuclear program and reimposed U.S. sanctions.
The United States has carried the practice of secondary boycott (sanctions against states trading with a state the U.S. government has targeted as an enemy) to put pressure on Iranian policy for nearly a quarter century, beginning with the passage of the Iran Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) in 1996. Now the Trump administration has pushed the use of that instrument to its ultimate conclusion by seeking to reduce Iran’s oil exports—its single largest source of export earnings—to “zero,” as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proudly declared last April. The administration further plans to reduce Iran’s gas and metal (iron, steel, aluminum, and copper) exports to a minimum as well. In his public presentation of the famous “12 demands” on Iran of May 2018, Pompeo said that the real purpose of the entire exercise was to force the Iranian people to rid the United States of the adversary regime in Tehran.
The Trump policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran thus represents an extreme violation of a state’s right to participate in the global economy, without which a modern state cannot survive. It is the equivalent in trade terms of a naval blockade to starve a nation, and it would be universally recognized as an act of war if carried out by any other state in the world. Iran calls it “economic terrorism.”
In the context of these larger legal and moral issues, the question of the respective roles of Iran and the Houthis in the strike is a matter not just of tactical and propaganda significance but of fundamental principle.
Iran's Military Capability
Iran has plenty of firepower as the American Conservative reports.
The United States was apparently taken by surprise when when Iran shot down a high-altitude but slow-moving U.S. prototype naval variant of the 737-size Global Hawk surveillance drone with a 3rd Khordad missile variant of the Ra’ad surface to air missile system first deployed a few years ago. And Iran’s air defense system has been continually upgraded, beginning with the Russian S-300 system it received in 2016. Iran also just unveiled in 2019 its Bavar-373 air defense system, which it regards as closer to the Russian S-400 system coveted by India and Turkey than to the S-300 system.
Then there is Iran’s development of a fleet of military drones, which has prompted one analyst to call Iran a “drone superpower.” Its drone accomplishments reportedly include the Shahed-171 “stealth drone” with precision-guided missiles, and the Shahed-129, which it reverse engineered from the U.S. Sentinel RQ-170 and the MQ-1 Predator.
If the US attacked Iran, Iran might retaliate with a huge barrage of missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Thus, to eliminater that threat, the US would have to take out all of Iran's military capability in one shot, before Iran countered with a barrage on Jerusalem.
Is that possible? Likely?
Perhaps that's the only reason Trump has avoided direct military war with Iran so far.
Another Undeclared War
One of the alleged "achievements" of the Trump Administration has been the observation that Trump has not started any new wars, unlike presidents Obama and Bush.
Many writers have made that observation, and heck, I said so myself.
At the same time, I labeled US actions on Iran and Venezuela as economic war.
Is there a moral difference? A legal difference?
I think not in both cases, but especially Iran.
One or Two?
Contrary to popular myth (and I accept my portion of the blame for spreading the myth), Trump has in fact started at least one new war, albeit without sending in troops or weapons.
But even the latter is misleading. The US has taken sides in the Yemen civil war by supplying Saudi Arabia with weapons and now troops.
Trump's Blind Eye as US Troops Head to Saudi Arabia
It's rare for me to side with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on much of anything but she is correct on this.
She is also correct to resist Democrat pressure to impeach Trump.
Rush to Judgement Again
On September 14, eight days ago I commented Saudi Oilfield Attack: By Yemen, Iraq, or Iran? Israel? Production Back Up When?
Today the Wall Street Journal reports U.S., Saudis Look for Iran Link in Weapon Systems
"Experts probe GPS systems in search of ‘smoking gun’ evidence of Tehran’s involvement in Sept. 14 attack; Iran has denied any role"
Officials in Riyadh and Washington have blamed Iran for the attacks and are searching for “smoking gun” evidence. They say they can’t galvanize world support for their view unless they can draw a clear link back to Tehran, which has denied any role in the attacks.
The GPS systems could allow investigators to trace the drones and missiles back to their runways and launchers, which Saudi and American officials believe were in Iran. Inspectors from around the world—including the U.S., France and the United Nations—are scrutinizing pieces of the weapons from the attacks, which temporarily knocked out half of Saudi oil production and rattled the global economy.
Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks. Iran has been steadfast in its denials of involvement, saying the attacks were carried out by the militants as retaliation for Saudi airstrikes that have killed civilians. The civil war in Yemen has triggered the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The US has rushed to judgment once again with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proclaiming Iranians are 'bloodthirsty,' 'looking for war.'
It's the US warmongers who are bloodthirsty.
Iran Last Started a War in 1688
Inquiring minds might be wondering, When Did Iran Start a War?
The last time I can find for a truly aggressive Iran was the first half of the 18th Century, under the reign of Nadir Shah (1688-1747), who attacked everybody nearby, including Turkey, Oman, and Afghanistan. In 1739, he invaded India, sacked Delhi, and brought home Shah Jehan’s Peacock Throne (whose gold and jewels were worth about $1 billion at today’s commodity prices) and the Koh-i-Noor diamond (now a 186 carat gem in the Tower of London).
So, maybe if we read of the Iranians digging up Nadir Shah’s body and cloning his DNA, we’d better start actively worrying about them eventually “launching a nuclear first strike.”
Parties vs Policies
I don't give a damn about political parties. I do care about policies.
I am very opposed to wars unless the US is directly attacked.
We had no business in Vietnam (D), Iraq (R), Afghanistan (R), Libya (D) , Syria (D), Venezuela (R), Iran (R).
Hopefully you see the pattern here. Both Democrats and Republicans start wars.
The last two, under Trump, have been economic, so far.
However, administration hawks are begging for war. And Trump's policies are leading to direct US military confrontation.
Achievement in Question
So far Trump's Mideast foreign policy "achievement" has been to not start a war while doing everything humanly possible to start one.
Besides, it's not even accurate. The US is very much at war with Iran, and Trump started it.
It was inevitable that some warmongering fool would drag Hitler into this discussion, albeit indirectly with a Churchill reference.
Here is my rebuttal to a person equating me to Chamberlain.
- Iran has not attacked anyone dating back to the 16th century
- To steal Iran's oil, the US, along with the UK overthrew a democratically elected government in Iran to place in a US puppet
- Iran has a right to defend itself
- Iran has no reason to Trust the US
- The US lied about US WOMDs in Iraq, and invaded that country causing widespread destruction
- Iran, looking at what the US did to Iraq, decided it needed to defend itself from the US
- The US is engaged in an illegal undeclared war on Iran
- The US has a history of stupid wars
- The war in Iraq led to the formation of ISIS, even Tony Blair admits that
- The US took out Libya's president, Muammar Ghaddafi on false pretenses just as progress was being made.
- Hillary clinton, Sec of Sate under Obama, bragged "We came, he saw he died". Al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists have been in control of Libya ever since.
- The US has no legitimate business in Syria. An overthrown of the Syrian gov't would likely have put Al Qaeda or ISIS in control just as it did in Libya.
- The US has spent trillions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan and accomplished nothing.
- It was Saudi nationals, not Iranians, not Iraqis responsible for 911
Mike "Mish" Shedlock