[This analysis was written for the Unz Review]
The Middle-East is literally exploding: the Houthis have delivered an extremely effective blow against Saudi oil production which (so they claim) has now dropped by 50% before bouncing back; there are persistent rumors that Russian Su-35S and S-400 has threatened to shoot down Israeli aircraft attacking Syria; Lebanon has declared that it will defend itself against Israeli attacks; Hezbollah has been threatening to deliver crippling strikes on Israel and even Israeli officials; Turkey has purchased Russian air defenses and says that if the USA refuses to deliver their F-35S, then Turkey will consider Su-35s and even maybe Su-57’s. Bibi Netanyahu tried to use Putin for his reelection campaign (well, he really is trying desperately to stay out of jail) but had to go home empty handed and, according to the JP, his mission was a failure.
Finally, and just to make sure that the crises are only limited to the Middle-East: the Polaks and the EU Court have successfully sued to try to force Russia to use the Ukie gas transit; the USA is invoking ancient treaties to threaten Venezuela; the UK is going to hell in a handbasket; Europe (well, Germany) can’t even get the Polaks to heel about North Stream 2 (well, they *are* heeling, of course, but to Uncle Shmuel, not Angela Merkel); India and Pakistan are threatening one another over Kashmir. Did I forget anything?
Oh yes, the DPRK is firing new missiles; the US wants to blame Iran for the Houthi attacks; China categorically rejects such accusations, while Russia continues to announce new revolutionary weapons built on new principles and plans to deploy the S-500 “Prometheus”, just to make sure the Empire does not get any stupid ideas about trying to strike Russia (or her allies which will begin purchasing the S-500 in 2021, according official sources).
I am sure I have forgotten plenty. Really, the Empire is collapsing on all fronts and that, in turn, means the chances that the ignorant dimwits in the White House will do something very stupid, dramatically increase.
Yes, I know, Bolton was fired. And I applaud that, but considering that I believe that Pompeo is even more delusional and evil than Bolton (not to mention fantastically arrogant!), that is hardly a reason to hope (I just read that Robert C. O’Brien will succeed Bolton; he used to be the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department; I wonder if that means even more kidnappings of Russian nationals worldwide…?).
There is so much to cover here that I will limit myself to a few points about the Middle-East which I think are important.
First, the partial destruction of the most important Saudi oil facilities is a HUGE embarrassment for the US. Remember that the KSA is really the “center” of CENTCOM and even the reason for its existence (to “protect” Iran from the USSR and officially keep the Shah safe, but in reality this was also part of a major deal between the USA the KSA: “you accept payment only in dollars and we will protect you against everybody“). Sure, there is a long list of western stooges to which a similar promise was made, including Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Manuel Noriega, Hosni Mubarak and many others; most are now dead, the rest in jail (iirc). Now its the turn of the Saudis it seems: not only could the super-duper “better than the S-300” patriots not stop the Houthis, all of the combined might of CENTCOM failed too.
Second, I can only concur with ‘b’ at Moon of Alabama – the war is over for the KSA. Whether they realize it or not makes no difference. Okay, it will make a difference in time, but in time only. The Saudis and their AngloZionist patrons have three solutions:
- Continue pretty much like before: that is the definition of insanity if different results are expected.
- Escalate and strike Iran, following which the entire Middle-East will explode with dramatic consequences.
- Do what the US always does: declare victory and leave.
Obviously, the third option is the only sensible one, but who said that Bibi, Trump or MbS are sensible at all? Tulsi Gabbard joined me in calling Trump somebody’s bitch, except I call him an Israeli bitch whereas Gabbard calls him a Saudi bitch. Same difference!
There is, however, one restraining factor: if Trump ever strikes Iran he will become the “disposable President” for the Neocons: Iran will use the opportunity to strike Israel and Trump will be impeached for it (the Neocons are, after all, in total control of the DNC and many key committees in Congress).
So this will all boil down to Trump and whether he has the info and brains to realize that an attack on Iran will wreck his Presidency (which is already FUBARed enough and attacking Iran will make it official) and he will be both impeached and, obviously, never reelected.
Third, could the Houthis have done it themselves? Absolutely yes. Iran did not have to strike directly, precisely because the Houthis were capable of doing it themselves. Check out this official exhibit of Houthi ballistic missiles and drones and see for yourself here and here. Furthermore, the Houthis are becoming very similar to Hezbollah and they have clearly learned advanced missile and drone capabilities (from Iran, which is why the Israelis and the US are so angry). Now I am not, repeat, NOT saying that Iran did not help or that this strike would have been as successful had Iran not provided intelligence, targeting, technical expertise, etc. But if there is any evidence of direct Iranian involvement, let this “malevolent manatee” (which is how Fred Reed referred to Pompeo) show it to the world, and it better be better than the crap they showed for Skripal or the chemical false flags in Syria.
Fourth, what this means for the KSA and their AngloZionist patrons is that the Houthis can strike anywhere inside the KSA with total impunity. And not only in the KSA. Furthermore, I suspect that Iran can also hit every single oil or gas related facility in the Middle-East just like it can strike every US/CENTCOM/NATO/Israeli objective it wants. Furthermore, in case of total war in the Middle-East, you can expect missiles raining down on US facilities not only from Yemen (Houthis) and Lebanon (Hezbollah) but also potentially from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Fifth, it really does not matter where or what the US and/or Saudis and/or Israelis fire at Iran, the response will be the same, at least according to Professor Marandi: it will be massive and the oil and gas export capability of the entire Middle-East will be threatened. There is no safe, cheap or effective way to strike Iran. But do the folks in DC realize that?
Next, I want to offer a few points about the alleged interception of Israeli F-35 by Russian Su-35S over Syria.
First, we really don’t have the facts, so let’s wait a little. Most stories about this come from one Arabic online paper. Now, in the last 24 hours there was “sort of kinda” confirmation from Russia, but not from officials, and these reports were not so much giving factual details as gloating that Netanyahu walked away from Russia with nothing.
Second, my best guess is that this story is probably based on reality. The Israelis have been behaving as if they did not care about the Russian presence in Syria: so they engage in airstrikes exclusively for PR purposes (remember, Bibi wants to avoid jail!) and the Russians probably complained and were ignored, and now they’ve had enough.
Third, the fact that the Jerusalem Post had to published a horrified article about this event conclusively proves that those who were trying to convince us that Russia and Israel were working hand in hand and that Putin was Bibi’s best friend were, well, full of crapola and their clickbait was just that: clickbait.
Fourth, there are those technology buffs who will always try to prove that the Su-35S is vastly superior to the F-35 and that this story is very credible and those who will explain that the F-35 is vastly superior to the Su-35S and that this story is pure invention. The truth is that it is useless and meaningless to compare two advanced aircraft “in the abstract” or declare that one is so much better than the other. Okay, yes, the Su-35S is superior in many aspects to the F-35, but most definitely not in all possible scenarios. In fact, we would also need to know what other aircraft were in the air at the time – including AWACs, SEAD and EW – and we would need to find out exactly what role the Russian S-400s played (if any). Generally, I urge you not to engage in a) “bean-counting” (only looking at quantities) or in b) making direct combat aircraft comparisons. In the latter case, we would need to know what kind (and how much) of training the pilots got, what kind of weapons they had, what kind of sensors they used and how, and more generally, exactly how the Israelis decided to structure their attack and how the Russians decided to respond. Finally, we would have to get some detail on sensor fusing, network-centric operations, datalinks, etc. Since we know nothing about any of that, I recommend that we don’t dwell on aircraft/radar/missile X vs aircraft/radar/missile Y. It’s just not worth it.
Fifth, there are already rumors about this being a false flag operation of the Israelis, the British, the KSA or the US. Well, I sure can’t prove a negative, but I see no compelling reason to make such conclusions. First, this is really bad news for the Empire and, second, the Houthis have done similar actions many times in the past and there is no reason to suspect that they could not have done what they did. Still, it is also undeniable that any hike in oil prices benefits a lot of people (USA shale, Russia, the KSA, etc.). Finally, there is always and by definition the risk of the Israelis and their Neocon allies pulling off some kind of false flag to finally trigger a US attack on Iran. All these are, however, only indirect arguments, at least so far. The fact that a false flag is possible does not mean it actually happened, let’s never forget that and never drop to premature or unfounded conclusions.
Sixth, let’s look at the targets themselves. We are talking about oil facilities, huge ones, which under the logic of US/NATO/Israel (aka the “Axis of Kindness”) is most definitely classified as “regime support infrastructure” or something similar. Furthermore, even under non Axis of Kindness logic, the laws of war allow strikes on infrastructures critical to the enemy’s military effort. So while TV stations, embassies or medical factories are NOT legal targets, critical oil facilities are. The ONLY stipulation is that the attacking side make an honest effort in selecting targets and munitions and try to avoid avoidable casualties. As far as I know, the Saudis have mentioned zero victims. Yes, that is unlikely, but that is how things stand for the time being. In this case, the Houthi strike was absolutely legitimate, especially considering the kind of genocidal devastation the Axis of Kindness and the KSA have unleashed against Yemen.
Lastly, I will venture a guess as to why the US and Saudi air defense were so useless: they probably never expected an attack from Yemen, at least not such a sophisticated one. Most of the US/KSA air defenses are deployed to defend against an attack from Iran, from the northern direction. The fact that this strike was so successful strongly suggest that it came from the south, from Yemen.
Conclusion: (Sept 18th, 1816Z)
I was about to conclude that according to RT, the Saudi Oil Minister has declared that the KSA “don’t know yet who is responsible” and that this was good news. Then I saw this: “Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of sponsoring oil-plant attack, says it ‘couldn’t have originated in Yemen“, also on RT. Not good. Not credible either.
For one thing, had it been Iran, the strike would have been far more massive and would have only been a part of a much bigger, full-scale, attack not only on Saudi oil facilities, but also on all crucial CENTCOM installations and forces. There is no way the Iranians would have opened major hostilities (and these strikes were definitely described by the Saudis as “major”) just to wait for a massive US/KSA/Israeli retaliation. The Iranians are most certainly not going to repeat Saddam Hussein’s crucial mistake and allow the US/CENTCOM/NATO/Israel/KSA the time needed to prepare for a massive attack on Iran. I am monitoring various “indicators and warnings” which would suggest that the USA is up to no good, and so far I have noticed only one potentially worrying event: MSC Sealift and US transportation Command has ordered a no-notice turbo activation of between 23 to 25 ships from the 46 ship Ready Reserve Force (RRF have to be 5-day ready). This is an unprecedented number since 2003 and it could mean somebody just taking precautions or someone is getting twitchy. But the timing is usually September, but not in this number (more about this here). But please keep in mind that such indicators cannot be considered in isolation from other facts. Should there be more, I will do my best to report them on the blog.
The fact that US/KSA air defenses performed so miserably does not mean that the USA is totally clueless about ‘whodunit’. There are a lot of other sensors and systems (including in space) which will detect a missile launch (especially a ballistic missile!) and there are some radar modes which allow for long-range detection but not necessarily capable of track-while-scan or of long-range engagements. Furthermore, you can also monitor data signals and general telemetry, and since the US has immense databases with the “signature” signals from all sorts of enemy hardware, they also probably could accurately assess which type of systems were used. Just in this case, just as in the case of MH-17, the Pentagon knows exactly ‘whodunit’. Ditto for the Russians who have a lot of SIGINT/FISINT in the Middle-East (and in space).
But in the last days of the Empire, facts don’t really matter. What matters is whatever is seen as politically expedient by the folks in the White House and in Israel. My biggest hope is that Trump finds out the truth about the strikes and that he has enough brains left to understand that should he strike Iran he will lose the election and will probably even be impeached to boot.
Let’s hope that his narcissistic instincts will save our long-suffering planet!