How Yemen’s Houthis are bringing down a Goliath

By Pepe Escobar from Beirut – posted with Permission

‘From a military perspective, nobody ever took our forces in Yemen seriously,’ scholar says

An image taken from a video made available on July 7, 2019 by the press office of the Yemeni Shiite Houthi group shows ballistic missiles, labeled ‘Made in Yemen,’ at a recent exhibition of missiles and drones at an undisclosed location in Yemen. Footage showed models of at least 15 unmanned drones and missiles of different sizes and ranges. Photo: AFP/ Al-Houthi Group Media Office

“It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other plausible explanation. We support ongoing investigations to establish further details.”

The statement above was not written by Franz Kafka. In fact, it was written by a Kafka derivative: Brussels-based European bureaucracy. The Merkel-Macron-Johnson trio, representing Germany, France and the UK, seems to know what no “ongoing investigation” has unearthed: that Tehran was definitively responsible for the twin aerial strikes on Saudi oil installations.

“There is no other plausible explanation” translates as the occultation of Yemen. Yemen only features as the pounding ground of a vicious Saudi war, de facto supported by Washington and London and conducted with US and UK weapons, which has generated a horrendous humanitarian crisis.

So Iran is the culprit, no evidence provided, end of story, even if the “investigation continues.”

Hassan Ali Al-Emad, Yemeni scholar and the son of a prominent tribal leader with ascendance over ten clans, begs to differ. “From a military perspective, nobody ever took our forces in Yemen seriously. Perhaps they started understanding it when our missiles hit Aramco.”

A satellite image from the US government shows damage to oil and gas infrastructure from weekend drone attacks at Abqaig on September 15.

Al-Emad said: “Yemeni people have been encircled by an embargo. Why are Yemeni airports still closed? Children are dying without treatment. In this current war, the first door [to be closed against enemies] was Damascus. The second door is Yemen.” Al-Emad considers that Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Sayed Nasrallah and the Houthis are involved in the same struggle.

Al-Emad was born in Sana’a in a Zaydi family influenced by Wahhabi practices. Yet when he was 20, in 1997, he converted to Ahlulbayat after comparative studies between Sunni, Zaydi and the Imamiyyah – the branch of Shi’ite Islam that believes in 12 imams. He abandoned Zaydi in what could be considered a Voltairean act: because the sect cannot withstand critical analysis.

I talked and broke bread – and hummus – with Al-Emad, in Beirut, during the New Horizon conference among scholars from Lebanon, Iran, Italy, Canada, Russia and Germany. Although he says he cannot get into detail about military secrets, he confirmed: “Past Yemeni governments had missiles, but after 9/11 Yemen was banned from buying weapons from Russia. But we still had 400 missiles in warehouses in South Yemen. We used 200 Scuds – the rest is still there [laughs].”

Al-Emad breaks down Houthi weaponry into three categories: the old missile stock; cannibalized missiles using different spare parts (“transformation made in Yemen”); and those with new technology that use reverse engineering. He stressed: “We accept help from everybody,” which suggests that not only Tehran and Hezbollah are pitching in.

Smoke billows from the Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province after the Sept 14 attacks. Photo: AFP

Al-Emad’s key demand is actually humanitarian: “We request that Sana’a airport be reopened for help to the Yemeni people.” And he has a message for global public opinion that the EU-3 are obviously not aware of: “Saudi is collapsing and America is embracing it in its fall.”

The real danger

On the energy front, Persian Gulf energy traders that I have relied upon as trustworthy sources for two decades confirm that, contrary to Saudi Oil Minister Abdulazziz bin Salman’s spin, the damage from the Houthi attack on Abqaiq could last not only “months” but even years.

As a Dubai-based trader put it: “When an Iraqi pipeline was damaged in the mid-2000s the pumps were destroyed. It takes two years to replace a pump as the backlogs are long. The Saudis, to secure their pipelines, acquired spare pumps for this reason. But they did not dream that Abqaiq could be damaged. If you build a refinery it can take three to five years if not more. It could be done in a month if all the components and parts were available at once, as then it would be merely a task of assembling the components and parts.”

On top of this, the Saudis are now only offering heavier crudes to their customers in Asia. “Then,” adds a trader, “We heard that the Saudis were buying 20,000,000 barrels of heavier crudes from Iraq. Now, the Saudis were supposed to have as much as 160 million barrels a day of stored crude.  So what does this mean?  Either there was no stored crude or that crude had to go through Abqaiq in order to be sold.”

Al-Emad explicitly told me that Houthi attacks are not over, and further drone swarms are inevitable.

Now compare it with analysis by one trader: “If in the next wave of drone attacks 18 million barrels a day of Saudi crude are knocked out, it would represent a catastrophe of epic proportions. The US does not want the Houthi to believe that they have such power through such fourth generational warfare as drones that cannot be defended against. But they do. Here is where a tiny country can bring down not only a Goliath such as the US, but also the whole world.”

Asked about the consequences of a possible US attack against Iran – picking up on Robert Gates’ famous 2010 remark that “Saudis want to fight Iran to the last American” – the consensus among traders is that it would be another disaster.

“It would not be possible to bring Iranian crude on line for the world to replace the rest of what was destroyed,” said one.

He noted that Senator Lindsey Graham had said he “wanted to destroy the Iranian refineries but not the oil wells”. This is a very important point.  The horror of horrors would be an oil war where everyone is destroying each others’ wells until there was nothing left.”

While the “horror of horrors” hangs by a thread, the blind leading the blind stick to the script: Blame Iran and ignore Yemen.




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  1. This situation leaves the United States and its military policies in an untenable position. If, as is claimed by U.S. officials, Iranian missiles hit the Saudi oil facilities, then expensive American made air defences such as the Patriot, are ineffective and not worth buying. Moreover, every potential user of these systems now know this.
    On the other hand, if these attacks were indeed from Yemen then what was hitherto considered a militarily insignificant country now has the means to disrupt the Saudi oil production. Other nations cannot fail to notice this situation.
    This is a disaster. There is plenty of time to turn it into a catastrophe.

  2. “There is no other plausible explanation” is the brother of “Highly Likely”.

    Good enough for more war, more sanctions, hegemonic genocide, crimes against humanity.

    And once it is the norm for a “Finding” that is indisputable, it can be pinned on Iran, China, Russia, Hezbollah, whoever and how many you want. Line them up and “demonize, sanction, de-stabilize, bomb” them.

    As Pepe points out, there is no gain for the US in blaming the Houthis when the real gain is from continuing the War Against Iran. It is an economic war, and oil is the core value of the economics.
    The hoped for target is Iranian refineries, storage and pipelines. The Iran-phobes drool over the vision of hitting those targets. They are lining up their missiles and bombers to join an attack if the US can concoct a viable military attack that won’t result in setting the ME ablaze when the counterattack comes from Iran and its friends in the region.

    Meanwhile, the Houthis will be minimized as authors and actuators of the attack on Abqaiq. But history is a stern teacher. The brilliance and success of the attack is one of the great psychological blows to the Goliath. In due time, the West will not want to credit Iran for its success.

    However, history also teaches us that little David slung a rock against the giant Goliath.
    Today’s version shows us a Houthi rock and a Houthi sling.

    • I love this comment section on point analysis guys. The article is very on point. Maybe we were helped by Iran but most of the work was done by us. The world will soon know who we are and how unstoppable we can be.

      Let them keep disregarding and underestimating us and they we we’ll keep doing what we do best.

      Ps :that’s today, 17:49
      Breaking News
      #Armed_Forces_Spokesman: Fully Destroying and Capturing besieged forces, gaining control of hundreds of kilometers after the qualitative operation killingand injuring more than 100 and captures over 2000 fighters from Saudi Arabia and Yemeni mercanieres that’s Three entire brigades. 100 of military vehicles as well as thousands of military equipment’s.

      No caps please; mod

      • Dear Houthis,

        Good job! We are cheering you all the way. Decimate Saudi Arabia, slaughter MBS and the entire clan, pulverize everything that Saudi Arabia stood for. Congratulations!

  3. People seem to love Anglo Saxons no matter what lies they say. The more obvious the better. Their agression, greed and loud over confidence appeals to a certain type of person around the world, espcially young women from poor families, i notice this at least in eastern europe. They see the world as a hip hop hood and the Anglos are the most brutal and cool gang. Sick of seeing young women here in hoodies and sweatpants covered in tattoos.. they dream of being strippers or meeting a sugar daddy…Meat for the Anglo.

    USA and UK insult the worlds intelligence. Societies based on pure greed, genicide, more greed and homopediphilia. One man who understood this was Chirac a true European, friend of Russia, critic of Israel and admirer of East Asian culture. His disgust at the murder of Iraqi civilians showed the Anglo for the beasts they really are.

    But too many of our leaders in the East after 1989 were so all in the Anglo Saxon Empire for three decades now, so far up the sweatty back sides of Bush, Blair, Netanyahu, Obama, that we lost our chance to be allies of China, Iran and Russia. Now Eurasia is doing fine without Europeans, Asia is the future. World moved on but we were trapped in the Atlanticist cage all this time. I feel i will end as one of the souls drinking cheap alcohol in the street.

    • It’s true. The West, thanks to decades of relentless brainwashing, is truly a ‘Shining City on a Hill’, for congenital idiots, ignoramuses and psychopaths of all shades of malevolence. Young women suffer, in many cases, from the ‘glamour’ problem. As Hedy Lamarr said, if a girl wants to appear glamorous she should just shut up and look stupid.

  4. “Blame Iran, and ignore Yemen”…. Correct Pepe. This is why people who seek the truth come to sites like this one or Moon Of Alabama, Strategic Culture Foundation, OffGuardian, etc.
    Because you sure as green eggs won’t get the truth in the mainstream media. What you’ll get is the constant demonising of the Empire’s assigned ‘official demons’ such as Russia, China, Venezuela, and of course, Iran. And a complete obfuscation of what is really happening.
    All spun with the ‘West are the good guys saving the world from evildoers’ rubbish.
    As I said before, the Houthis attack on the Abqaiq oil refinery was richly deserved payback. I’m very pleased they have the murderous Saudi thugs over a barrel, so to speak.

  5. I remember the UK being kicked out of Crater a long time ago. Even my green lid compatriots got it in the neck.

    This is why history is no longer popular. Iran kicked the US out 40 years ago and has been free ever since.

    Yemen kicked the British out 60 years ago and has been plagued by pretend-Islamist from up north ever since.

    The Saudis are Zionists in all but name with the same morals, or lack thereof, the same greed, the same belief that everyone around them are nothing but soul-less cattle to be farmed: goyim.

    I remember going to public school where there were a lot of Moslems, as we called them in those days.

    The Sunnis were just like the Anglicans, they asked you your opinion and ideas, then they went off and did what they wanted completely ignoring what you wanted.

    The Shiia asked you what you thought, and then they helped you do what you had in mind. Then you helped them in return.

    Life was easy with the Shiia and next to impossible with the Sunni and Anglicans. So I can understand the conversion.

    As an old Frisian Heathen, Islam of either sort is of no interest to me. Having said that, however, I do admire the Iranian-Houthi-Hezbollah alliance in standing their ground against Israel and their lackeys.

    Hitler and the national socialists were used by the Jews, as Eichman often wondered, to gain world hegemony which explains our situation where everything revolves around what Jews want.

    Being ruled by termites the west is on a path to immediate and irreversible destruction. It is now just a matter of when, not if.

    Congratulations to the Shiia Houthis. Well done.

  6. Os EUA nunca esquecerão nem perdoarão o Irã pelos ataques as instalação de petróleo da Aramco em Abqaiq. Assim como não perdoaram pela revolução de 1979. Trump,os falcões americanos e os futuros presidentes também não perdoarão e o odiarão o Irã para sempre. Não esperavam serem desmascarados (venda de armas que não protegem)
    e ao mesmo tempo humilhados.Tal feito (quer sejam os iemenitas ou iranianos os autores) será para sempre lembrado e servirá de referência ao longo da história.

    Google translation,MOD: The United States will never forget or forgive Iran for the attacks on Aramco’s Abqaiq oil facility. Just as they did not forgive the 1979 revolution. Trump, the American hawks and future presidents will not forgive and will hate Iran forever. Not expected to be unmasked (sale of weapons that do not protect)
    and at the same time humiliated. Such a feat (whether the Yemeni or Iranian authors) will be forever remembered and will serve as a reference throughout history.

  7. The idea that a company such as Fluor Corporation or Foster Wheeler can go to a manufacturer with detailed drawings of some components and expect these components to be made available in a matter of weeks is preposterous. This concept of how business operates could only be perpetuated by journalists who spend all day juggling words on a screen. It is not how the real world operates.

    It took decades to build the Abqaiq complex and it will take years to rebuild it.

    But what is the point of rebuilding it if the functioning part of it can be destroyed at any time?

    Delusional thinking comes at a price. If the Yemenis feel that their gesture has been ignored and misreported, they may well carry out some more creative destruction. Places like Australia and Japan might be in for a big shock. The Europeans will be very grateful for any oil the Russians send their way. Sanctions on Venezuela and Iran would have to be rolled back. All sorts of strange things would happen.

  8. I stated here few months ago that short of going to full fledge war with Iran, the US has a losing hand and will be kicked out.

    Iran strategy is quite clear. And the recent oilprice webesite article is IMHO spot on.
    The full article is worth reading.

    “If this dual track approach failed (comment added : kicking the US out of the PG through striking the US protectorates and consolidating the Shia crescent land control to the Mideteranean) to deliver the anticipated results quickly, Tehran would escalate further, ordering Iran’s proxies to strike US forces and vital interests throughout the greater Middle East.

    Iran has indicated that it was adamant on winning, and that it was ready to pay whatever price it would take. And presently, Iran’s strategy is succeeding.”

  9. “It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other plausible explanation. We support ongoing investigations to establish further details.”

    The statement above was not written by Franz Kafka. In fact, it was written by a Kafka derivative: Brussels-based European bureaucracy. The Merkel-Macron-Johnson trio, representing Germany, France and the UK, seems to know what no “ongoing investigation” has unearthed: that Tehran was definitively responsible for the twin aerial strikes on Saudi oil installations.

    In other news, the British, French, and Germans also announced that the fabled Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction have been finally found!

    An ongoing investigation has found that these mythological Iraqi WMDs were actually shipped to Yemen after the America-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    There is no other plausible explanation!


  10. Sputnik news is reporting a successful major operation by Ansar Allah encircling “three military brigades of enemy (Saudi) forces”

    “The Armed Forces of Yemen have announced a large-scale military operation near Najran. The enemy has suffered heavy losses in equipment and manpower. Thousands of enemy soldiers were captured, killed and hundreds wounded”, Houthi forces spokesman Gen. Yahya Saria said.

    If confirmed this would discredit Western claims that the attack on Saudi refineries had to have been done by Iran because the Houthi lacked the sophistication to conduct such an operation.