by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog
Is the attack on ARAMCO the first of a long war or is it game-over already? It seems like the latter and in more ways than one, the war between Iran and Saudi Arabia has ended before it even started. One single solitary Houthi attack on Aramco has sent Saudi oil exports tumbling down by half; not to mention a 20% hike on the price of crude.
Now, even though the Houthis have declared responsibility for the ARAMCO attack, the Trump administration wants the world to buy the idea that it was Iran who launched the attack, not the Houthis. https://sputniknews.com/us/201909191076835893-pompeo-attack-saudi-oil-facilities-act-war-iran/. This far, at least Japan seems unconvinced, and so is France https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201909191076835540-japan–no-evidence-iran-behind-attack-saudi-aramco-facilities/
In reality however, the resolve of Saudi Arabia and its capability to stand up and fight has little to do with the identity of the attacker, and this is because Saudi Arabia has demonstrated that it didn’t take much for it to suffer what it suffered. This begs the question; how many such similar attacks can Saudi Arabia weather before it totally capitulates? Seemingly, not many.
In a previous article, I anticipated such scenarios because the Saudi economy and infrastructure are highly vulnerable. A country that has virtually one major wealth-producing base (ie oil) and just a few desalination plants that pump fresh water into its major cities, is a very soft target indeed. After all, if those handful of vital targets are hit, not only oil exports will stop, but water will stop running in households. http://thesaker.is/dissecting-the-unfathomable-american-iranian-war/. But the water desalination plants do not have to suffer a direct hit for them to stop running. They need power to run, and the power comes from fuel, and if the fuel supplies stop, so will they, and so will electricity-generating plants in a nation that cannot survive without air-conditioning.
Up until recently, people of Arabia were used to drought, brackish water and searing heat. They lived in and around oases and adopted a lifestyle that used little water. But, the new generation of Saudis and millions of expats are used to daily showers, potable water and climate control in their households. During wars, people normally go to nature to find food and water. They hunt, they fish, they collect local berries and edible wild plants, they fill jars from running rivers and streams, they grow their own vegetables in their backyards, but in Saudi Arabia, in the kingdom of sand, such alternatives do not exist at all.
Furthermore, with a population that has swelled from a few million in the 1950’s, the current population of Saudi Arabia stands at 33 million, and this includes the millions of expats who work and live there
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Saudi_Arabia. The limited supply of brackish water is not enough to get by until any damaged infrastructure is fixed, and it’s not even piped to begin with.
As the nation with the third highest global defence budget, higher than Russia’s, Saudi Arabia continues to import everything from Patriot Missiles all the way down to bullets.
This is in sharp contrast with Iran’s geography, natural assets and demography. Iran is a nation of mountains, valleys and rivers, meadows, thriving agriculture and 70 million citizens who have been taught to be innovative and self-sufficient; courtesy of US-imposed sanctions.
And to say that the ARAMCO target was hit by surprise would be quite absurd and inexcusable given that Saudi Arabia is already in a state of war with Yemen, and especially given that the Yemeni aerial strikes have been escalating in recent months. To make the situation even more embarrassing for the Saudis; the spectre of war with Iran is currently hot on the agenda, so how could key Saudi installations be unprotected?
But here’s the other thing, had it been truly Iran that was responsible for the attack as the Trump administration alleges and wants us to believe, America would then be admitting that Iranian missiles flew from mainland Iran, across the Gulf, managed to dodge American defences and state-of-the-art detection hardware and software, and effectively reached their target on Saudi soil. If this is the scenario Trump wants us to believe, what does this say about the capability of America to engage militarily with Iran? This is a much bigger farce than that of Russia-gate; a claim that Russia can indeed affect the outcome of the presidential elections of the allegedly “greatest and strongest nation on earth”. Do such claims mean that America’s adversaries are extremely organised, smart and strong or that America is in disarray, stupid and weak; or both? Either way, when such claims are perpetrated by none but America itself, they certainly do not put America in a good light.
The weaknesses and vulnerabilities of Saudi Arabia and Big Brother are only matched by the other ally, the UAE. As a matter of fact Houthis spokesperson Yahia Saria gave the Emirates a stern warning if they want to protect their glass skyscrapers. https://www.rt.com/news/469104-houthis-new-drones-attack-uae/ . In his address, Saria is perhaps giving a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Arabic proverb which says that if one’s house is made of glass, he should not cast rocks at others. After years of indiscriminate shelling under the watchful and indifferent eyes of the world, after years of ruthlessly trying to starve the Yemenis into submission, why would one expect the Houthis to exercise any mercy towards their aggressors?
But let us face it, Dubai and other thriving metropolises of the UAE are predestined to morph into ghost towns. It is only a question of time before they run out of their current charm and their fake onion skin deep glitter. After all, there is nothing in those fantasy cities that is real, substantial and self-sustaining. If anything, a war with Iran has the potential to fast-track the decay process and leave foreign investors and expats exiting in droves; if not running for their lives.
Ironically, the American/Saudi/UAE alliance, if it is indeed an alliance, accuses Iran of spreading its dominion over the region; and perhaps there is evidence to support this accusation. However, the alliance seems to conveniently forget that it was its own orchestrated invasion of Iraq and toppling of Saddam that created a power vacuum in Iraq that was soon filled by Iran. And even though the eight-year long and bitter Iran-Iraq war ended up with no winners or losers, the fall of Saddam at the hands of the American/Arab alliance has turned Iran into the virtual winner that the same alliance is now trying to curb. How more ironic can this farcical situation be?
America plays down the strength of Iran’s Army, and Iran does the opposite. This is normal and part-and-parcel of the psychological warfare. In reality however, no one knows for certain what is Iran’s military capability. For this reason, any all-out confrontation with Iran may at least initially sway America to move its vessels out of the Gulf and further away from the reach of short-range Iranian missiles until and if they feel confident to move closer at a later stage. However, Saudi ground and key and vital ground targets cannot be moved, and for Iran to only be able to hit a few that can be counted on the fingers of one hand, can lead to a total Saudi/UAE capitulation.
Whilst no one knows Iran’s real strength, what we do know is that Saudi Arabia has failed abysmally in defeating the much weaker, poorer, underprivileged starving people of Yemen.
America will not commit boots on the ground and, to this effect, has little to lose apart from risking naval vessels. The soft targets will be Saudi and UAE key infrastructures and no Patriot defence systems will be able to intercept all missiles poised to hit them. If the Houthis could do it, it is a given that Iran also can.
I have recently watched the series “The Vietnam War” on Netflix, and I remembered how back then when the truth about that war was exposed, I believed that American hawks would never get away with lying to their people and the rest of the world again, or ever invade another country in the way that they did with Vietnam. In less than two decades however, they moved full throttle into Iraq, and the masses believed their story. Perhaps some things will never change, and after the losses in Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, America seems still determined to fight Iran. This time around, the biggest loser may not end up to be America itself, but its Arab allies; namely Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the recent attack on ARAMCO is only a prelude to an inevitable outcome, because the writing is already on the wall and it clearly reads: GAME-OVER.