I refrained from giving a view for two days, I saw the attacks on Sunday and I was ready to give voice, but then something happened, a change in the wind was there and it was important to look at that side of the equation. It all started on Sunday (at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-49699429) with ‘Saudi Arabia oil facilities ablaze after drone strikes‘, yet that was not the real trigger for the west, there had been other attacks and the west ignored them, as I reported in several articles. It was: “Oil prices ended nearly 15% higher on Monday, with the Brent benchmark seeing its biggest jump in about 30 years” that woke people up, now there was finally a reason to report it, not the fact that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had been under attack for a month, it was the fact that fuel prices were going to rise.
And of couirse, the US ever willing to be late to a party gives us: ‘Attack on a major Saudi oil facility originated in Iran, U.S. intelligence indicates‘, which is weird as I had handed out evidence out weeks ago to show that Iran had been facilitating resources to attack Saudi Arabia, yet for me it is nice to know that I am more able in intelligence after 3 decades than the US has ever been. As such it is not interesting to read: “American intelligence indicates that the attack on a major Saudi oil facility originated in Iran, three people familiar with the intelligence told NBC News“, that part is not interesting, it is the part where we have known that Iran had been supplying drones to Houthi forces for the longest time, for many months, it would have been nice for US intelligence to hand out that information months ago, but I reckon until the prices of fuel soared there was no reason to show support for an ally, they claimed to be an ally of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, yet they never released the intelligence giving rise to lash out at Iran to any degree. That does not make for an ally that is the foundation for being an exploitation tool (at best).
And it gets to be worse, when you consider NBC News. The quote: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Saturday that Iran “launched” what he called “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”” seems nice, but it only seems so. I wonder if the US officials are really about the ‘world energy supply‘ or the consequences of oil price hikes and the increased value it has on Aramco? It is the impact of the headline ‘Saudi Arabia oil and gas production reduced by drone strikes‘ that is scary to Wall Street, as production reduces, prices go up, the need increases and it changes the economic models for Wall Street, so again it is not really about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, or about being their ally, is it? It is about the profit margins everywhere else that is the actual debate behind closed doors.
So when the Wall Street Journal (at https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-tells-saudi-arabia-oil-attacks-were-launched-from-iran-11568644126) gives us ‘U.S. Tells Saudi Arabia Oil Attacks Were Launched From Iran‘ we do not see anything new here. The issue is how the drones get moved from Iran to Yemen. We also see through the faded “Monday’s assessment, which the U.S. hasn’t shared publicly, came as President Trump said he hoped to avoid a war with Iran and Saudi Arabia asked United Nations experts to help determine who was responsible for the airstrikes“, just a moment to delay moments of decision making. The culprits are known. It is not the real fear, the real fear is “Higher fuel prices pose another threat to the world economy” and that is the real issue for the US and for Europe. The response: “Saudi officials said the U.S. didn’t provide enough proof to conclude that the attack was launched from Iran, indicating the U.S. information wasn’t definitive. U.S. officials said they planned to share more information with the Saudis in the coming days” makes perfect sense. As the attack was claimed by Yemeni Houthi, the proxy war stage stays intact, it is the intelligence on how the drones get into Yemen that counts and so far (until now) the US, UK and French have not been overly willing to keep closer eyes on it, they all need degrees of freedom to deal with Iran and their so called Nuclear treaty, that has been in the way for the longest of times.
There are two parts in this and both came from CNN. Part 1 gives us: “A Yemen armed forces spokesman was quoted by the agency as saying the Houthis successfully carried out a “large-scale” operation with 10 drones targeting Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais“, part 2 gives us “CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen said there have been more than 200 drone attacks launched by Houthi rebels from Yemen into Saudi Arabia, and none have been as effective as Saturday’s attack, lending credence to the belief that the attack did not originate from Yemen“, I personally agree with both. From my point of view the attack on Khurais has too many issues. It is close to twice the distance getting the attack from Yemen instead of from Iraq. It is dangerously close to Riyadh and when we look at the track record from Houthi attacks, we see a very different pattern. There are more reliable parts in all this when we consider Hezbollah or Iran to be the direct acting agent here. I have to mention Hezbollah as they have been involved in the past with attacks on Saudi Arabia. Abqaiq is right on the border of Bahrain and close to Qatar. The Houthi skillset does not give us any credibility on their actions, yet they claimed it, as a tool for Iran that could have been done to muddy the waters more, yet there is another matter in all this. I believe that there is a larger concern that is not open for viewing. We see this in the quote: ““It is quite an impressive, yet worrying, technological feat,” he said. “Long-range precision strikes are not easy to achieve and to cause the substantial fires in Abqaiq and Khurais highlights that this drone has a large explosive yield.”” The part not seen or spoken of is not that the attack happened, but it was completed with assistance nearby. The precision is not from the drones, it was most likely achieved as someone used a laser to paint the targets (one of a few optional examples) in the final minute. If the laser was small enough it would not be noticed, but for the drones it is like a searchlight guiding them to the explosive points. That part would make sense in more than one way, and it is the foundation that counts. The claims that were made by Yemen make sense and grow in validity when they have resources on the ground. That part is not merely on the stage of drones, there is a larger concern for Saudi Intelligence now. When they accept that the drones got their final guidance on the ground nearby, we see the impact that explosive drones would have and will have again. Iran has been staging this proxy war for the longest time and it is time for us to consider doing something about it in a more serious way (that is when Canada is done selling intelligence data to interested third parties that is).
There is additional support for my view and it comes from the BBC. They gave us: “One official said there were 19 points of impact on the targets and the attacks had come from a west-north-west direction – not Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen, which lies to the south-west of the Saudi oil facilities” to be this precise requires drone technology only the largest players have (like the US and the UK), Iran does not have software that sophisticated and to succeed to this degree required the most likely culprit Iran to have assistance nearby. Painting the targets makes the most sense, but it is not the only option, merely the most likely one. It there were 19 base stations guiding a drone, it would require resources Yemen does not have, it has merely attacks in small clusters of less than 5, the images from the US government satellites involved showed the spread and size of the targets, when you consider resources required to be this precise and the pilot skills involved the shift towards support teams nearby becomes a clear issue. Still there are gaps in the intelligence I admit to that, however, when we look at the maps, the size of the attacks and aligned parameters, an attack from Iraq or Iran are the only options remaining. That in itself is not evidence, yet the premise of what was required is clear and even as we can prove that more basic drone attacks could not have been done by Houthi forces because they lack all levels of infrastructure to create and guide drones to the degree required, we see Iran to be guilty by elimination of other players. The precision requires well trained pilots which the Houthi are not; again we are left with Iran. Actually Iraq might have been party to this, but their drone abilities (read: with additional lacking skill sets to consider) are nowhere near the level required.
This now gets us to the New York Times part which gave us: “Administration officials, in a background briefing for reporters as well as in separate interviews on Sunday, also said a combination of drones and cruise missiles — “both and a lot of them,” as one senior United States official put it — might have been used. That would indicate a degree of scope, precision and sophistication beyond the ability of the Houthi rebels alone” it is the ‘a combination of drones and cruise missiles‘ that pushes Iraq out of the consideration circle leaving Iran all alone. We should consider the skills Iran shows here, and it will also be their undoing. When we consider that only Iran remains as an optional player to do this and when we see that Europe and the US will not actually act, but ‘force’ talks, that is the first instance when Saudi Arabia needs to consider that their allies are nothing more than paper tigers, pussycats that make a lot of noise, but when you know they are sculptures the enemies will come, Saudi Arabia needs to realise this fast and we need to consider that the EU, the US and the commonwealth needs to create an actual plan of attack on Iran. This evidence was handed to us almost 2 weeks ago when we were given ‘Iran puts pressure on Europe to save nuclear deal within 60-day deadline‘, Iran keeps on holding the Nuclear deal as a juicy carrot and will use it to stop a direct attack on them, a path that should now be considered to be totally unacceptable. I for one would like to ‘loan’ a Saudi Eurofighter Typhoon (EF2000) and see if all my hours on a Microprose flight simulator (knights of the sky) were well spent and let’s face it, I do have a quirky sense of humour. I would be able to test my knowledge in guiding that Typhoon to Tehran and level a military building or two, on the other hand seeing their oil fields burn might feel equally rewarding. And there is the optional reward to answer the eternal outstanding question: Can you hear the GBU-16 Paveway II bomb explode whilst you fly a plane?
You think that I am making light of the situation and to some degree I am, the basic need for everyone to realise that Iran has been steering towards war whilst employing the oldest Italian excuse (read: It was not me, I know nothing); This stage has been months in the making and now that the drums of combat are approaching, we will see more and more politicians peaking up offering to start talks. I believe it is too late for that, it is almost 6 months too late for that, but that might just be me.
Yet there is one other voice we need to consider. It is the voice of Fabian Hinz, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Monterey (via the Washington Post). Here we get: “photos of the remnants of a missile in Saudi Arabia show a weapon both too sophisticated to be produced domestically by the Houthis and never seen in Iran“, I only partially agree here. ‘Photos of the remnants of a missile‘ is merely partial evidence that should not be ignored. A multi-tiered attack makes perfect sense, it is the scope of the attack and patterns used that makes Iran stand out; it also gives a larger consideration that their new drones are a lot more powerful. There is also his quote “Is Iran secretly designing, testing and producing missile systems for exclusive use by its proxies?” A quote that is not accurate and not wrong. I believe that earlier evidence showed the need for Iran to scrap all identifiers form their electronics, make clean system boards, in addition, it altered the export drones to trade accuracy in for yield (which maximises the Houthi outstanding debt to Iran), in addition to that they had to make a more idiot proof operating system (the Yemeni are nowhere near the academics they need to be to pilot drones). This is not because I want Iran to be guilty; this is because the elements are so overwhelmingly clear that Iran could not be innocent. There are too many parts in play that require the war machine that Iran has to develop what we see in action at present. And there is every indication that the 60 day nuclear deal deadline is used to stage more and more attacks whilst the indecision of Europe and the US remains in place. If there is one small blessing than it is the stage where the Israeli Defence Forces have even less consideration for Iran than Saudi Arabia has and there is every indication that what is created now in Iran will be shipped to Hezbollah soon enough; forcing Israel to act as well.
When this escalates beyond a point of no return the people in Washington, Wall Street, Brussels and Strasbourg need to consider that when they have no options left and they are no longer considered a voice on the issue: ‘What mattered most to them?‘
Because these considerations with the inaction we see is what drives the war no one can prevent. Saudi Arabia has a clear right, Israel has a duty to its citizens and Iran never cared for anyone but themselves. So when we see cries for talks when the bombs fall, remember that this did not start last Sunday, this has been going on for well over 6 months. The news merely decided not to report on much of it that was until the fuel prices went up, now they are all over it, but way too late.