Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2019
As part of Bibi Netanyahu’s desperate pre-election machinations, he and Pres. Trump announced plans for a mutual defense pact, which they’re set to sign after the election. It was a nice pre-election goodie offered by the American leader to help seal the Israeli leader’s victory in a tight race.
But given Trump’s statements today, Bibi doesn’t need such an agreement for the U.S. to jump into action, were Israel to face a military threat. The U.S. president boasted that the U.S. is “locked and loaded” and waiting for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to give him the green light to attack Iran. Using macho slang more suitable for a Rambo movie than a presidential policy statement, this is a shameful bit of posing. It makes Trump appear to be MBS’ partner in crime, rather than the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.
Apparently, Sen. Lindsey Graham can fire off a tweet calling for military strikes against Iran in retaliation for the missile assault on Saudi oil fields yesterday, and Trump immediately phones in an airstrike. That’s how U.S. military strategy works these days. The only thing I’m thankful for now is that John Bolton is no longer perched on his shoulder like a tiny devil whispering sweet nothings about the next country we should pummel into submission. But despite the ex-national security advisor’s demise, it doesn’t mean there will be many other voices trying to restrain him. Pompeo, after all, hates Iran as much as Bolton did.
Trump believes that he can launch such an attack as a discrete military operation with little impact outside the attack itself. But that’s clearly delusional. Until this week, Trump was planning a summit meeting with Iran’s Pres. Rouhani at the upcoming UN session. He was said to be considering $15-billion in sanctions relief in return for Iran coming back into compliance with the JCPOA agreement. That of course, will go out the window the second cruise missiles are fired and F-35s take off from U.S. aircraft carriers in the Gulf.
That may be why Trump has changed his tune about the UN meeting. He tweeted yet another lie about the conditions under which he would attend:
The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, “No Conditions.” That is an incorrect statement (as usual!).
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2019
Of course, several of his cabinet secretaries, including Pompeo and Mnuchin have said precisely that. And Trump did not dispute their characterizations when they voiced them. Clearly, Trump was willing to meet with Rouhani unconditionally…until he wasn’t.
What’s especially alarming is that Trump sees no “daylight” between Saudi and Israeli interests on the one hand, and our own: to him, an attack on one is an attack on all. This sort of approach is what led to World War I. And it should not be repeated.
Israel is the most aggressive, expansionist state in the region. Saudi Arabia is not far behind. Why should the U.S. backstop their bloodthirsty military assaults in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq? If these two countries face resistance in pursuing regional hegemony, how does that damage U.S. interests? If they are attacked due to their reckless policies toward their neighbors, why do we owe it to them to give their enemies a bloody nose? Let them fight their own battles, winning or losing on their own terms.
The truth is that Trump is a bully. Not the kind of bully who will roll up his sleeves and get into a slugging match with an adversary. Rather, he’s the kind who starts the school year looking for the skinniest, weakest student in the class. Then he goes about making life a living hell for him over the course of the rest of the year. In other words, he’s a bully who exploits the weak and fears the strong. He makes a cold calculation about how aggressive he can be based on how much his victim can harm him in return.
Israel and the Saudis are much the same. That is why they thump their chests like silver-back gorillas in the face of rivals like Iran and Turkey. If either of them had nuclear weapons, the saber-rattling would be substantially toned down. But as it is, they bully because they can. The Saudis can kill tens of thousands of Yemenis with hardly a whimper from Yemen or the world. Israel can massacre thousands of Gazans over more than a decade and suffer little more than a few minor scratches from Palestinian rockets fired in response.
Trump and these two states are drawn to each other because each of their leaders is a bully threatening rivals with an iron club. They stare in the mirror each morning and admire their manliness. They preen and coo to each other as charter members of a mutual admiration society.
Iranian Missiles Attacked Saudi Arabia from Bases in Iraq
David Hearst confirms reports that the devastating attack which took out half of Saudi oil production yesterday, was the product of Iranian missile strikes originating from southern Iraq. Though Iran’s leadership has denied it was responsible, Hearst’s report seems far more credible:
The strikes which paralysed the Saudi oil industry on Saturday morning, forcing it to halve its output of crude oil, were made by Iranian drones launched from Hashd al-Shaabi bases in southern Iraq, a senior Iraqi intelligence official has told Middle East Eye.
The attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais, two key Aramco facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia, were in retaliation for Israeli drone strikes on Hashd al-Shaabi bases and convoys in August, which were co-ordinated and funded by the Saudis, the official said.
If you read my post published last night, you’ll recall that I speculated that this attack was connected to the Israeli assaults on Iranian assets and bases inside Iraq. Turns out I was right. Hearst further details the purpose of the attack:
“The latest attack comes for two reasons: another message from Iran to USA and its allies that as long as its siege on Iran continues no one will have stability in the region. However, the second more direct reason is a strong Iranian revenge for the recent Israeli attacks by drones launched from SDF-controlled areas in Syria against pro-Iranian Hashd bases,” he said.
“These Israeli drone attacks were supported and financed by the Saudis. That is why the recent attack was the most devastating, while the previous attacks were more symbolic and inflicted little harm,” the official said.
This too echoes what I wrote last night: Iran is sending a pointed message to the Israelis who mounted the original attack inside Iraq (possibly on behalf of the Saudis), the Saudis themselves, and the U.S., that the more pain you inflict on Iran and its allies, the more damage you will suffer in turn.
This is also the first time anyone has confirmed not just the Saudi-Israeli military alliance, but that the Saudis are financially subsidizing the Israeli military assaults. You’ll recall that they invested up to $1-billion in the earlier Israeli-U.S. joint cyber-attacks on the Natanz nuclear facility. So the Saudis funding Israel’s assaults on Iranian bases in Iraq seems entirely within the realm of possibility.