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Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq

The attack on the world’s largest oil processing facility at Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia southwest of Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran had a few predictable responses. Given that the facility has a daily output of some 5.7 million barrels, damaging it was bound to cause a spike in the price of oil.

The question troubling the security chatterers was whether the party claiming responsibility – in this case, the Yemen-based Houthi rebels – had managed to engineer the feat. Drones, it is claimed, were used, striking at some 17 points. But such copyright is being denied to the rebels. For one, Riyadh is considering the possibility that the attack might have come from Iraqi soil, involving another group armed with cruise missiles. The direction of the attack, it is claimed by US sources, was from the north or northwest, suggesting the direction of the Persian Gulf, Iran or Iraq.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has decided to pour cold water on any suggestion that the Houthis were competently responsible. Having displaced John Bolton as hawk-in-chief, he is preparing the ground for possible retaliation. In his view, there is only one state responsible for the attacks. “We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression.”

In another tweet posted on Saturday, the convinced Pompeo accused Iran of being behind some 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia “while [Hassan] Rouhani and [Iranian Foreign Minister Javad] Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy.” He ruled out Yemen as a base for the assault. Iran had “launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”

President Donald Trump, for his part, is venting and waiting. “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 should proceed!” The more immediate concerns for the president are economic: releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and expediting “approvals of the oil pipelines currently in the permitting process in Texas and various States.” Many thanks to be had, it seems, for such strikes.

The machinery behind a military strike on Iran is being put in motion, one that was already being readied with claims of Iranian attacks on maritime shipping in the Persian Gulf and the shooting down of a US drone. (The latter led to a flirtation with the use of force by Trump). Generally speaking, the legal basis of any such attack is questionable, despite Pompeo’s airy contention that, “We have always had the authorisation to defend American interests.” Trump, however, has been briefed by a few warring enthusiasts in Congress suggesting that any assault on Iran can be brought within the purview of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is not troubled by legal niceties, happy to entertain the prospect of a regional apocalypse in the name of punishing the mullahs. Having called the attacks “yet another example of how Iran is wreaking havoc in the Middle East” he considered it important “to put on the table an attack on Iranian oil refineries if they continue their provocations or increase nuclear enrichment.” Like a delinquent of international relations, Iran, he tweeted over the weekend, “will not stop their misbehaviour till the consequences become more real, like attacking their refineries, which will break the regime’s back.”

Accepting Iranian responsibility for such attacks has been an easy matter for many on the Hill. There are those, like Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, US Representative Adam Schiff, who are already satisfied that Tehran’s less than subtle hand is heavily involved. “I think it’s safe to say that the Houthis don’t have the capability to do a strike like this without Iranian assistance.”

Speculation and invention remain a foreign policy stable in Middle Eastern politics. The region still labours with legacy of a US-led invasion of Iraq inspired by fictional Weapons of Mass Destruction supposedly harboured by Saddam Hussein. It involved grotesquely extravagant assessments of Iraq’s destructive prowess; it involved intelligence failures, bureaucratic bungling and venal manipulation of the record in Washington, London and Canberra.

Zarif, for his part, is convinced that Pompeo, having failed in exerting maximum pressure on Iran, has now turned to a program of maximum deceit. The US and its allies, he tweeted, “are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory. Blaming Iran won’t end disaster.” The question, however, is bigger than Yemen, and bigger than oil. The sole question here is whether Trump takes of the root of madness held out by Graham, or holds out for a meeting with Rouhani at the UN General Assembly.

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  1. Peter F

    Weapons of mass destruction? I wonder which peace loving country has the most?

  2. Paul McLisky

    Is there hard evidence of “venal manipulation” on Australia’s part?

  3. Jack Cade

    Anybody who believes the US on this issue is a mug. They have been spoiling for a war to ‘make America great (grate?) again, but Venezuela is too close to home and has 2m soldiers. Iran, unfortunately, will fight back and destroy the West’s great friend, Saudi Arabia (an Isis state that’s actually made it!)
    The fuss being made about Iran imprisoning Australian nationals seems to have overlooked Julian Assange being imprisoned indefinitely for passing on someone else’s comments about US and it’s allies numerous – and continuing – atrocities.

  4. Phil Pryor

    The USA is thought (figures vary greatly) to possess c. 6000 to 7000 first class thermonuclear weapons deliverable on missiles, with Russia usually thought to have similar. After that the numbers drop to France, U K, China, Israel, then Pakistan and India, with others, e g, Sth. Africa possible owners. Mutually assured destruction has kept the cold war peace to now, but the big louts do not want juvenile delinquents in this mix. The peace loving USA could kill us all, twenty times over, a soothing thought. Big oil must be seething away now, scheming, even planning and Donald the Chump will respond, but how? Maybe Pompeo’s mafia connections could intercede.. ??

  5. Peter F

    I just love the thought that an increase in the price of oil will help turn many towards electric vehicles.

  6. shirley

    hey mebbe scomo’ll send them collins subs to help bigg blondie and his rapture buddy pompeus

  7. New England Cocky

    “Like a delinquent of international relations, the [USA, United States of Apartheid] , he tweeted over the weekend, “will not stop their misbehaviour till the consequences become more real, like attacking their [Twin Towers], which will break the regime’s back.”

    Anybody for another round of “Words of Mass Deception”?? Now was it the CIA or military intelligence (an oxymoron surely) that “discovered” the atomic programme (?) in Iraq before the US imperialist invasion to steal the Iraqi oilfields??

    Somehow the MSM is willing to overlook the influence of the CIA and other US government funded mercenary outfits in perpetuating the longest war that the USA has ever lost; longer than the Vietnam debacle plus Korea plus WWII in total. Meanwhile the principal beneficiaries appear to be the NE military industrial complex manufacturing armaments for the world and the secondhand Middle East market.

    Meanwhile, as Peter F says, electric vehicles showcased at the Dresden Motor Show this last week, look an exciting prospect as battery technology improves and provides longer geographical ranges. Just think, driving from Sydney to Melbourne and return at no/little cost.

  8. Terence Mills

    The worst thing that could happen to our world would be for Netanyahu and Trump to be re-elected !

  9. andy56

    I dont get it, The Saudis have been pummeling them mercilessly and not a yelp from the USA, now the Saudis are feeling some blow back and its all Iran’s fault. Its clear, America has learned nothing from the shah of iran fiasco.
    Now would be a good time to go all electric for cars.

  10. John O"Callaghan

    Pompeo Bolton and the rest of the fcking psychopaths in the Military Industrial Complex have been scheming and dreaming about invading Iran ever since they kicked out the last criminal US puppet
    the bloody Shah of Iran it into the ground This is a false flag attack carried out by the US to justify an invasion, and they have been doing this all round the world since the end of WW2.

    Anyone who believes this attack was'nt carried out by the Saudis and the US then i have a great bridge near an opera house i can sell you..... one owner going cheap! .........

  11. Stephengb

    Seems to me that the attack on Oil facilities will bring a nice little earner for the oil industry. Then there is the add on earners for the war like rhetoric from the Yanks toward Iran.

    All round I ask myself who is going to profit he most with this sort of event.


    Hmmmm now I wonder who that could be 🤔

    Then I think, Hmmmmm I wonder who has that sort of drone capability 🤔

  12. andy56

    mind you, if i faced an existential threat, ie constant bombardment by the saudis, i too would go for what hurts the most, their money! Serves them right i say. Let their own stupidity blow them all back to desert sand. America will be forced to defend Suadi and Iran will stretch them even more. So the other evil empire thats egging the americans on will get the smirk wiped from their face too.

  13. Wat Tyler

    The Saudis must be just about the most repellent people imaginable. An acquaintance of mine worked there as a nurse about 20 years ago and says they are the most appalling people.

  14. Zathras

    These Iranian drone allegations come from the same people who once insisted Osama Bin Laden was ensconced in an air conditioned self-sustaining Afghani mountain fortress, equipped with missile launchers. Later we were lied to about Kuwaiti babies being taken out of humidicribs by looting Iraqi soldiers and as well as the WMDs, we must also consider the infamous “people shredder”, just to mention a few totally false items.

    Years before, according to the USA the airport runways being built by Cubans in Grenada (the result of a well-advertised global Tender process) were not for wide bodied tourist passenger planes at all but for military invasion purposes allegedly threatening the USA.

    For Iran, the media has wound the clock back to the Straits of Hormuz allegations but are now not going back even further to the sanctions and the unilateral decision to renege on an agreement that started the whole matter.

    The USA has a history of softening up public opinion in advance of military adventures and in every case it never ends well and makes things worse.

  15. Phil BEATTIE

    A mate of mine who was working in Saudi Arabia got caught up in a crowd being hustled along the street to an open sports field. There he saw an event that was and will be etched into his sub conscience for ever. The spectacle he witnessed was the beheading of a young women, an Indonesian maid. These people are savages Apparently there are 180 people on death row waiting for their appointment with the Swordsman. Did I mention they are savages? For mine I hope the Hooti Tooti’s or Lawrence of effing Arabia for all I give a fck, I hope they level the place. The sad part is the Orangutan masquerading as a President who is behind all of all of this Machiavellian horse shit couldn’t find Saudi Arabia, Yemen or indeed Iran on a map. If it all wasn’t so serious it would be funny. The next f#cker that complains about refugees to me to my face, I will stick one on them God help me.

  16. Aortic

    As Brendan Nelson said years ago, and he was roundly castigated for it by his LNP colleagues, ” It’s all about the oil.” Go ahead and blast the shit out of each other in the name of some pie in the sky prophet or other, just keep it local and leave the rest of us to live in what semblance of freedom and democracy we have left, which ain’t much.

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