ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

The US/Arab Sponsorship of Syrian Terrorists Is US Foreign Policy

UN Photo/Cia Pak
Walid Al-Moualem, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s 74th session.

Although terrorism is a “global nightmare which haunts everyone”, some countries have invested in terrorism as a tool to impose their “insidious agendas” on other nations, Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister Walid Al-Moualem told the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

Mr. Al-Moualem said terrorists have plagued Syria for more than eight years, causing death, destruction and a humanitarian crisis.

“The case of Syria has been the clearest example of such foreign investment in terrorism,” he said.

“Tens of thousands of foreign terrorist fighters have been brought to Syria from more than a hundred countries, with the support and cover of States that are known to all. Even more, these same States deny us the right to defend our people against terrorists, which they consider ‘freedom fighters’ or ‘Syrian armed opposition’, as some like to call them.”

Mr. Al-Moualem called Idlib the most recent example of this situation, stating that the north-western city hosts the largest gathering of foreign terrorist fighters in the world.

Their crimes include continued rocket and mortar attacks against nearby civilian areas, using civilians as human shields, and preventing people from leaving via a humanitarian corridor established by the Government, he stated.

“Would one of your governments stand and watch if faced with a similar situation?” he asked.  “Would you ever forfeit your right and duty to defend your people and liberate your country from terrorists and foreigners?”

The Foreign Minister added that this Government has engaged in international political initiatives on Idlib, including an agreement by Russia and Turkey on the creation of de-escalation zones.

“Meanwhile, in the interim, the Turkish regime has failed to fulfill its commitments under these agreements. Instead, it has provided terrorists with all forms of support, including weapons that are more sophisticated,” he stated.

“The Turkish regime is now rushing, with the support of some Western countries, to protect Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups there just as they have done before.”

The Foreign Minister reported on his administration’s recent political efforts, such as agreement on the terms of reference for a Constitutional Committee.

In this regard, he affirmed the Government’s readiness to work with the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, and “friendly countries”, though stressing that the process must be Syrian owned and led.

Mr. Al-Moualem said the Government also is making “tremendous efforts” to improve the humanitarian situation. The UN estimates that more than 11.5 million people across Syria require humanitarian assistance.

He urged “peace-loving countries that uphold international law” to counter what he called an “illegal and inhumane blockade” which has restricted access to medicine, oil for electricity, and other needed items.

Yemen–Houthis claim capture of thousands of troops in Saudi raid

Yemen: Houthis claim capture of thousands of troops in Saudi raid

Yemen’s rebels claim carrying out attack in Saudi region of Najran, but there is no immediate confirmation from Riyadh.

Yemen’s Houthi movement has said it carried out an attack near the border with the southwestern Saudi region of Najran and captured “thousands” of enemy troops including several Saudi army officers but there was no immediate confirmation from the authorities in Saudi Arabia.

A spokesman for the Yemen-based rebels said in a statement on Saturday that three “enemy military brigades had fallen” in the attack, which he said was launched 72 hours earlier in the vicinity of Najran and was supported by the group’s drone, missile and air defence units.

Houthi-run Almasirah TV quoted the spokesman as saying they captured “thousands” of enemy troops, including many officers and soldiers of the Saudi army, as well as “hundreds of armoured vehicles”.

The Houthi military spokesperson said the operation reveals to Saudi Arabia that the Yemeni fighters are capable of further penetrating into Saudi territories “in case it continues its aggression against Yemen”.

Reporting from Sanaa, Al Jazeera’s Mohammed al-Attab said the Houthis claimed to have carried out “sniper shooting and other tactics in order to further tighten their grip on the three military brigades” claimed to have been captured.

“The Houthi military spokesperson revealed that those who have been captured will be put in undisclosed areas in order to protect them from Saudi airstrikes,” he said.

“They are assuring the families of the prisoners of war that they will be kept in a secret place in order to keep them safe from any harm.”

The Houthis, who control the northern part of Yemen, have recently stepped up their drone and missile attacks across the southern border of Saudi Arabia.

The rebels claimed responsibility for a September 14 drone and missile attack on two facilities run by Saudi’s state oil company, Aramco.

The attack slashed Saudi Arabia’s crude oil output by half, accounting for about five percent of the world supply.

However, the United States, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany and the UK said Iran was behind the attacks, ratcheting up already heightened tensions in the region.

Strategically significant

Nabeel Khoury, the former deputy chief of the US mission to Yemen, told Al Jazeera the Saudi-led coalition forces have repeatedly deployed troops across their southern border, posing a constant threat to the “Houthi heartland”.

The Houthi offensive appears to be “an attempt to take the military threat off of themselves,” he said.

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Yemen’s Houthis say will stop all attacks on Saudi Arabia

Khoury said the offensive may be meant to show “that they [the Houthis] are capable of inflicting harm” after the Saudi-led coalition failed to respond to a peace offer made last week.

On September 20, Houthi officials said they would halt missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia if the alliance stopped its operations in Yemen.

“Militarily they [the Houthis] have close to 100,000 battle hardened soldiers, and they have demonstrated their power elsewhere,” he added.

Yemeni government troops, supported by coalition air strikes, have in recent months been fighting Houthi forces in the Kataf region of the northern Saada province near the Saudi border.

Local sources have said the Houthis had captured scores of Yemeni forces in the battles.

Five years of fighting

The war in Yemen broke out in 2014 with an offensive by the Houthis against the Yemeni government.

September 21 marked the fifth anniversary of the Houthis’ capture of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.

The Saudi-led coalition, backed by the Western powers, intervened in the civil war in March 2015.

The conflict in Yemen has killed tens of thousands and left millions on the brink of famine, in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The UN said both the Houthis and the opposing coalition may be guilty of war crimes.

The latest violence could hamper the UN efforts to ease tensions and pave the way for talks in the long-impoverished Arabian Peninsula nation.

Saudis Forced To Accept American Air Defense Solution…More Patriots

[US Patriot Missiles Failed To Protect Saudi Oil Assets, Making the Case For Russian S-400 Missile Sales]

[US to deploy new Patriot missile battery, 4 Sentinel radars to Saudi Arabia]

THOSE who have been watching the Saudi massacre of Yemenis over the last five years with horror and rage can be excused our moment of schadenfreude.

This German expression is used to describe the feeling of joy over the pain of another. I experienced this as I watched the Saudi oil facility and wells in Auqab and Khurais go up in flames recently.

While the world condemned this attack, nobody seemed to have a word of sympathy for the tens of thousands of victims who have been killed and maimed as a result of inept Saudi and Emirati aerial bombardment. Our government, too, was swift to condemn the attack, although it has remained silent in the face of wanton Saudi brutality. Apart from all those civilian casualties, the Saudis have also pushed some 20 million Yemenis close to death by disease and starvation through its naval blockade of ports.

Nesrene Malik, the Guardian columnist, wrote recently: “There is a long-standing joke told in the Middle East about Saudi Arabia’s reluctance to fight its own wars. ‘Saudi Arabia will fight until the last Pakistani’, the punchline goes, in reference to the fact that Pakistanis have long supported Saudi’s military endeavours … Saudi Arabia is accustomed to buying labour that it deems too menial for its citizens, and extends that philosophy to its army…When asked what fighting in Yemen was like under the command of the Saudis, some returning Sudanese troops said the Saudi military leaders, feeling themselves too precious to advance too close to the front line, had given clumsy instructions by satellite phones to their hired troops, nudging them in the general direction of hostilities. When things were too treacherous, Saudi and coalition air forces dropped bombs from high-flying planes, inflating civilian casualties. This is how Saudis fight: as remotely as possible, and paying others to die.”

Saudis have pushed some 20m Yemenis close to death.

There has been an international chorus accusing Iran of being behind these attacks on Saudi oil facilities. Reluctant to do its own fighting, Riyadh has called on its allies to respond to the Iranians in order to protect global oil supplies. Few have made the connection between the Saudi onslaught on Yemen, and the massive damage inflicted on its oil-processing facilities.

Iran has denied any involvement in the attack, but it is hardly likely to accept responsibility. Despite the Houthi claim to have acted on their own, it is doubtful if the rebels have the technical capability to launch such a sophisticated operation. In either case, the pinpoint accuracy and range of the drones and missiles used would have given the Saudis and the Americans reason to pause.

Another connection is the direct link between America’s exit from the nuclear deal signed by Obama and the recent attacks. Not satisfied with the existing economic sanctions on Iran, Trump has turned the screw tighter, making it virtually impossible for Iran to export its oil. While Saudi Arabia and Israel have exulted in Iran’s pain, President Rouhani has proclaimed that if his country could not export oil through the Strait of Hormuz, nobody else would be allowed to either.

Meanwhile, America’s highly successful exploitation of its shale oil reserves has substantially reduced its dependence on Middle East oil. This has changed the nature of the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia. And with Israel in post-election turmoil, Netanyahu is unable to exert the kind of pressure he could a few months ago.

Many have questioned the utility of Saudi Arabia’s multibillion-dollar arms purchases, especially from the US. When the drones and the missiles hit their targets recently, there was no response from the Patriot defence system. It turns out that this was designed to intercept missiles approaching from a steep angle, and not low-flying drones.

The fact is that over the years, the Saudis have been buying high-tech weaponry at exorbitant prices, with princelings allegedly raking in massive commissions. These weapons are parked in the desert, and are then replaced by the next generation of modern weapons.

I am embarrassed that Pakistanis could be fighting for the Saudis against Yemen. When Gen Raheel Sharif was recruited by Riyadh, there was come confusion about his role. It appears to have become clearer. However, the performance of the coalition forces in Yemen does not inspire much confidence in his capability, if indeed he’s involved in the Saudi misadventure.

In chess, if you push an unsupported piece into your opponent’s territory, it is likely to have a short life. The Americans have scores of bases in the region that can be hit by Iranian missiles in case of hostilities. Similarly, the Saudis have a large number of soft targets. Once seen as assets, they are all now hostage to swift retaliation should Iran come under attack.

It’s time to talk about lifting sanctions on Iran, not escalating the situation.

irfan.husain@gmail.com

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2019

Once-Classified Memos Bust Joe Biden’s 2016 Ukraine Story

Joe Biden has claimed that his 2016 call for Ukraine’s prosecutor general to be fired had nothing to do with the latter’s probe of a gas firm, where the former VP’s son Hunter was employed, but rather the Ukrainian’s alleged corruption. However, a string of documents, including a court affidavit seen by The Hill, appear to imply otherwise.

 

According to The Hill’s John Solomon, a bunch of documents, many from the American legal team that assisted a Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, in dealing with law-related issues, raises the “troubling prospect” that US officials could have “painted a false picture in Ukraine” that essentially “eased Burisma’s legal troubles and stopped prosecutors’ plans to interview” Joe Biden’s son Hunter over corruption allegations during the 2016 vote.

Apology for ‘Dissemination of False Info by US Reps and Public Figures’

The former US vice president insists that in spring 2016, he demanded that Ukraine fire its chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, for one  reason: because Biden believed that the official was inept and corrupt, not because he was looking into Burisma Holdings, which granted Biden’s son Hunter a lucrative position on the board. However, hundreds of pages of never-released memos and files obtained by Solomon appear to contradict Joe Biden’s narrative.

For instance, according to one cited official memo, Burisma’s US legal representatives met with Ukrainian authorities just days after Biden forced Shokin to be sacked and offered “an apology for dissemination of false information by US representatives and public figures” about the Ukrainian prosecutor. The memo, along with the legal team’s internal emails cited by Solomon, proceeded to note that Burisma’s American team had proposed introducing Ukrainian prosecutors to Obama administration employees for them to make amends.

Among the “troubling” questions mentioned by The Hill’s journalist is whether the Ukrainian prosecutor’s firing was indeed due to corruption and, if so, why the American legal team referred to this as “dissemination” of falsehoods. Others include Burisma’s US lawyers’ active position and decisive line of action when the prosecutor was finally replaced.

‘New Wave of Scrutiny’ After Hunter’s Appointment

Biden ended up in the public crosshairs back in December 2015, when The New York Times reported that Burisma had hired Hunter Biden for just a short stint after the former vice president was asked by President Obama to oversee US-Ukraine ties at the time. Separately, the article alerted Biden’s office to Viktor Shokin’s ongoing probe into Burisma and its founder.

Solomon remarked at this point that the newly obtained documents “detail an effort to change the narrative” after the NYT story about Hunter Biden was published. Two days after the article, Hunter Biden’s American business partner in Burisma, Devon Archer, reportedly texted a colleague asking about a means to counter the “new wave of scrutiny”, stating that he and Hunter Biden had just met for talks at the State Department.

The text reported by Solomon suggested that there was about to be a new “USAID project the embassy is announcing with us” and that it was “perfect for us to move forward now with momentum”. The journalist said he had sued the State Department for any records related to the meeting, especially in light of the crucial ethical question it raises – if Hunter Biden and his team sought the State Department’s assistance while his father held his key White House post during Obama’s presidency.

Solomon mentioned a new wave of controversy that popped up earlier this year after he disclosed that Joe Biden admitted during a 2018 recorded speech that as vice president, in March 2016, he threatened to cancel $1 billion in loans to Ukraine unless the country’s then-President Petro Poroshenko showed Shokin the door.

The investigative journalist was left without any doubt about Shokin’s office looking into Burisma after personally speaking to the former general prosecutor. Solomon cited Shokin as saying that he had been making plans to question Hunter Biden about $3 million in fees that he and his partner, Archer, had allegedly collected from Burisma through their US subsidiary. Separately, he cited documents seized by the FBI in an unrelated case confirming the payments, allegedly amounting to over $166,000.

Two Open Probes During Viktor Shokin’s Firing

Making a separate point, Solomon busted media reports stating that when Biden in 2016 forced the sacking of the prosecutor, there were no open investigations. According to the journo, a UK-based investigation of Burisma’s owner was indeed closed down in early 2015 due to the deadline for documents to be submitted not being met, but in March 2016, at least two inquiries were open – one reportedly involved taxes, while the other centred on corruption allegations.

There is perhaps even more direct evidence of a close connection between Biden’s calls for the prosecutor to be fired and the Burisma investigation: per Solomon, in a newly sworn affidavit prepared for a EU court, Shokin testified that when being sacked, he was told the reason was that Biden was unhappy about the Burisma probe.

Shokin Reportedly Turned Down Poroshenko’s Calls to Halt Burisma Probe

“The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors”, Shokin reportedly testified, adding that he refused to close the Burisma investigation despite Poroshenko “asking me” several times “to consider the possibility of winding down the investigative actions in respect of this company”.

US Legal Team in Concert with Ukraine’s Burisma?

Although Shokin apparently “has reason to hold a grudge” in light of the loss of the job, his account is said to be supported by documents from Burisma’s legal team in the US, which appeared “to be moving into Ukraine with intensity as Biden’s effort to fire Shokin picked up steam”, Solomon concluded, going on to cite Burisma’s own accounting records. The latter, he says, show that the gas company had paid tens of thousands of dollars while Hunter Biden served on the board of an American lobbying and public relations firm, Blue Star Strategies, managed by Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano, both of whom served in President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Joe Biden’s Ukraine story has seen increased scrutiny over the past week, since a whistle-blower launched a complaint about a phone call between Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which POTUS requested a probe into Joe Biden, the Democratic frontrunner in the upcoming presidential polls, as well as his and his son’s business dealings in Ukraine in 2016. The infuriated Democratic camp deemed the move as a possible unconstitutional abuse of power, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shortly launching an impeachment inquiry billed by President Trump as a fresh twist of “witch hunt garbage”. The Ukrainian president, meanwhile, noted that there was no pressure exerted on him during the July phone call, which came as a casual, “normal” happening in the countries’ bilateral communication.

Hong Kong, Kashmir, Palestine–Ruins of British empire on fire

Hong Kong, Kashmir, Palestine: Ruins of British empire on fire

The people of Hong Kong, Kashmir and Palestine have long histories of resistance to oppression.

A demonstrator stands on a British flag during an anti-Israel rally in Karachi July 21, 2006 [File: Zahid Hussein/Reuters]
A demonstrator stands on a British flag during an anti-Israel rally in Karachi July 21, 2006 [File: Zahid Hussein/Reuters]

Continued mayhem in Palestine, increasing bloodshed in Kashmir, mass protest in Hong Kong – how do we connect these dots? Are they related?

Well, of course: The sun never set on the Union Jack! In the sunset of that empire – as is inevitable for all empires – chaos and turmoil were destined to follow.

“The world is reaping the chaos the British Empire sowed,” Amy Hawkins recently wrote in Foreign Policy, “locals are still paying for the mess the British left behind in Hong Kong and Kashmir.” The author left out Palestine, chief among places around the globe, where the British empire spread discord and enmity to ease its rule and prepare the ground for disaster after its exit.

Indeed, the anticolonial uprisings in the Indian subcontinent, China, the Arab world and elsewhere did not result in freedom or democracy for the nations ruled by the British Empire.

In Kashmir, the British left a bleeding wound amid the partition of colonial India.

In Palestine, they left a European settler colony and called it “Israel” to rule in their stead and torment Palestinians.

In Hong Kong, they left a major cosmopolis that is neither truly an independent entity, nor a part of mainland China.

They picked up their Union Jack and departed, leaving behind a ruinous legacy for decades and generations to bleed. Those consequences are not just historical and buried in the past. They are still unfolding.

When the sun finally set

Ironically, today the United Kingdom is struggling to hold itself together, as the Brexit debacle tears it apart. One looks at the country and marvels at the poetic justice of wanton cruelty coming back to haunt the former empire.

The UK finds itself face to face with its imperial past, with the Irish and Scottish once again defying English nationalists and their schizophrenic belief in their own exceptionalism. How bizarre, how just, how amazing, how Homeric, is that fate!

We may, in fact, be witness to the final dissolution of the “United” Kingdom in our life-times. But there was a time when, from that very little island, they ruled the world from the Americas in the west to Asia and Australia in the east.

The terror of British imperialism – wreaking havoc on the world not just then but now as well – is the most historically obvious source that unites Hong Kong, Kashmir, and Palestine as well as the many other emblematic sites of colonial and postcolonial calamities we see around us today. But what precisely is the cause of today’s unrests?

In Hong Kong, Kashmir, and Palestine we have the rise of three nations, “baptised” by fire, as it were – three peoples, three collective memories, that have refused to settle for their colonial lot. The harsher they are brutalised, the mightier their collective will to resist power becomes.

Britain took possession of Hong Kong in 1842 after the First Opium War with China. It transformed it into a major trading and military outpost, and insisted on keeping it long after its empire collapsed. In 1997, Britain handed Hong Kong over to China, conceding to the idea of a “one country, two systems” formula that allows for a certain degree of economic autonomy for Hong Kong. But what both China and Britain had neglected to consider was the fact that a nation of almost eight million human beings throughout a long colonial and postcolonial history had accumulated a robust collective memory of its own, which was neither British nor mainland Chinese – it was distinct.

Kashmir came under British influence shortly after Hong Kong – in 1846, after the British East India Company defeated the Sikh Empire that ruled the region at that time. A century later, Kashmir was sucked into the bloody partition of India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the British departure from the subcontinent, with both post-colonial states having a mutually exclusive claim on its territory. Here, too, what India and Pakistan forget is the fact that almost 13 million Kashmiris have had a long history of countless troublesome colonial and postcolonial experiences, making Kashmir fundamentally different from either one of them.

The same is the case with Palestine, which fell under British rule in 1920 after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. Before the British packed their colonial possessions and left almost three decades later, they installed a successor settler colony in the form of a Zionist garrison state. Decades of unrelenting struggle against the barbarities of the British and the Zionists have left Palestinians in possession of one of the most courageous and steadfast histories of resistance to colonial domination.

Memories of resistance

In revolting against China, India, and Israel, these three nations in Hong Kong, Kashmir, and Palestine have become three nuclei of resistance, of refusal to let go of their homelands.

They have narrated themselves into a history written by powers who have systematically tried to erase them and their collective memories. “Homeland” is not just a piece of land. It is a memorial presence of a history.

Those memories, corroborated by an entire history of resistance to imperial conquest and colonial occupation have now come back to haunt their tormentors.

China, India, and Israel have to resort to naked and brutish violence to deny the veracity of those defiant memories, now evident as facts on the ground. In doing so, these powers have picked up where the British empire left off.

They too seek to terrorise, divide and rule, but by now those they try to subdue have mastered resistance; their struggle has outlived one imperial oppressor, it can surely survive another.

In other words, no amount of imperial brutality, settler colonialism or historical revisionism can make the distinct identities, memories and histories of these people disappear.

Today people in Palestine, Kashmir, and Hong Kong see themselves as stateless nations ruled with brutish military occupation. In the postcolonial game of state formation, they have been denied their national sovereignty.

The more brutally they are repressed and denied their sovereignty, the more adamantly they will demand and exact it.

Neither China in Hong Kong, nor India in Kashmir, nor Israel in Palestine can have a day of peaceful domination until and unless the defiant nations they rule and abuse achieve and sustain their rightful place in the world.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance. 


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How the Houthis overturned the chessboard

How the Houthis overturned the chessboard

by Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

The Yemeni Shiite group’s spectacular attack on Abqaiq raises the distinct possibility of a push to drive the House of Saud from power

A Yemeni Shiite man holds his weapon and a flag with an Arabic inscription reading ‘Disgrace is far from us,’ as he takes part in a religious procession held by Houthi rebels to mark the first day of Ashura. Photo: Hani Al-Ansi/dpa

We are the Houthis and we’re coming to town. With the spectacular attack on Abqaiq, Yemen’s Houthis have overturned the geopolitical chessboard in Southwest Asia – going as far as introducing a whole new dimension: the distinct possibility of investing in a push to drive the House of Saud out of power.

Blowback is a bitch. Houthis – Zaidi Shiites from northern Yemen – and Wahhabis have been at each other’s throats for ages. This book is absolutely essential to understand the mind-boggling complexity of Houthi tribes; as a bonus, it places the turmoil in southern Arabian lands way beyond a mere Iran-Saudi proxy war.

Still, it’s always important to consider that Arab Shiites in the Eastern province – working in Saudi oil installations – have got to be natural allies of the Houthis fighting against Riyadh.

Houthi striking capability – from drone swarms to ballistic missile attacks – has been improving remarkably for the past year or so. It’s not by accident that the UAE saw which way the geopolitical and geoeconomic winds were blowing: Abu Dhabi withdrew from Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s vicious war against Yemen and now is engaged in what it describes as a  “peace-first” strategy.

Even before Abqaiq, the Houthis had already engineered quite a few attacks against Saudi oil installations as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports. In early July, Yemen’s Operations Command Center staged an exhibition in full regalia in Sana’a featuring their whole range of ballistic and winged missiles and drones.

The Saudi Ministry of Defense displays drones and parts from missiles used in the refinery attack.

The situation has now reached a point where there’s plenty of chatter across the Persian Gulf about a spectacular scenario: the Houthis investing in a mad dash across the Arabian desert to capture Mecca and Medina in conjunction with a mass Shiite uprising in the Eastern oil belt. That’s not far-fetched anymore. Stranger things have happened in the Middle East. After all, the Saudis can’t even win a bar brawl – that’s why they rely on mercenaries.

Orientalism strikes again

The US intel refrain that the Houthis are incapable of such a sophisticated attack betrays the worst strands of orientalism and white man’s burden/superiority complex.

The only missile parts shown by the Saudis so far come from a Yemeni Quds 1 cruise missile. According to Brigadier General Yahya Saree, spokesman for the Sana’a-based Yemeni Armed Forces, “the Quds system proved its great ability to hit its targets and to bypass enemy interceptor systems.”

This satellite overview handout image from the US government shows damage to oil/gas infrastructure from weekend drone attacks at Abqaiq.

Houthi armed forces duly claimed responsibility for Abqaiq: “This operation is one of the largest operations carried out by our forces in the depth of Saudi Arabia, and came after an accurate intelligence operation and advance monitoring and cooperation of honorable and free men within the Kingdom.”

Notice the key concept: “cooperation” from inside Saudi Arabia – which could include the whole spectrum from Yemenis to that Eastern province Shiites.

Even more relevant is the fact that massive American hardware deployed in Saudi Arabia inside out and outside in – satellites, AWACS, Patriot missiles, drones, battleships, jet fighters – didn’t see a thing, or certainly not in time. The sighting of three “loitering” drones by a Kuwaiti bird hunter arguably heading towards Saudi Arabia is being invoked as “evidence”. Cue to the embarrassing picture of a drone swarm – wherever it came from – flying undisturbed for hours over Saudi territory.

UN officials openly admit that now everything that matters is within the 1,500 km range of the Houthis’ new UAV-X drone: oil fields in Saudi Arabia, a still-under-construction nuclear power plant in the Emirates and Dubai’s mega-airport.

My conversations with sources in Tehran over the past two years have ascertained that the Houthis’ new drones and missiles are essentially copies of Iranian designs assembled in Yemen itself with crucial help from Hezbollah engineers.

US intel insists that 17 drones and cruise missiles were launched in combination from southern Iran. In theory, Patriot radar would have picked that up and knocked the drones/missiles from the sky. So far, absolutely no record of this trajectory has been revealed. Military experts generally agree that the radar on the Patriot missile is good, but its success rate is “disputed” – to say the least. What’s important, once again, is that the Houthis do have advanced offensive missiles. And their pinpoint accuracy at Abqaiq was uncanny.

This satellite overview handout image shows damage to oil/gas infrastructure from weekend drone attacks at Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia. Courtesy of Planet Labs Inc

For now, it appears that the winner of the US/UK-supported House of One Saudi war on the civilian Yemeni population, which started in March 2015 and generated a humanitarian crisis the UN regards as having been of biblical proportions, is certainly not the crown prince, widely known as MBS.

Listen to the general

Crude oil stabilization towers – several of them – at Abqaiq were specifically targeted, along with natural gas storage tanks. Persian Gulf energy sources have been telling me repairs and/or rebuilding could last months. Even Riyadh admitted as much.

Blindly blaming Iran, with no evidence, does not cut it. Tehran can count on swarms of top strategic thinkers. They do not need or want to blow up Southwest Asia, which is something they could do, by the way: Revolutionary Guards generals have already said many times on the record that they are ready for war.

Professor Mohammad Marandi from the University of Tehran, who has very close relations with the Foreign Ministry, is adamant: “It didn’t come from Iran. If it did, it would be very embarrassing for the Americans, showing they are unable to detect a large number of Iranian drones and missiles. That doesn’t make sense.”

Marandi additionally stresses, “Saudi air defenses are not equipped to defend the country from Yemen but from Iran. The Yemenis have been striking against the Saudis, they are getting better and better, developing drone and missile technology for four and a half years, and this was a very soft target.”

A soft – and unprotected – target: the US PAC-2 and PAC-3 systems in place are all oriented towards the east, in the direction of Iran. Neither Washington nor Riyadh knows for sure where the drone swarm/missiles really came from.

Readers should pay close attention to this groundbreaking interview with General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force. The interview, in Farsi (with English subtitles), was conducted by US-sanctioned Iranian intellectual Nader Talebzadeh and includes questions forwarded by my US analyst friends Phil Giraldi and Michael Maloof and myself.

Explaining Iranian self-sufficiency in its defense capabilities, Hajizadeh sounds like a very rational actor. The bottom line: “Our view is that neither American politicians nor our officials want a war. If an incident like the one with the drone [the RQ-4N shot down by Iran in June] happens or a misunderstanding happens, and that develops into a larger war, that’s a different matter. Therefore we are always ready for a big war.”

In response to one of my questions, on what message the Revolutionary Guards want to convey, especially to the US, Hajizadeh does not mince his words: “In addition to the US bases in various regions like Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Emirates and Qatar, we have targeted all naval vessels up to a distance of 2,000 kilometers and we are constantly monitoring them. They think that if they go to a distance of 400 km, they are out of our firing range. Wherever they are, it only takes one spark, we hit their vessels, their airbases, their troops.”

Get your S-400s or else

On the energy front, Tehran has been playing a very precise game under pressure – selling loads of oil by turning off the transponders of their tankers as they leave Iran and transferring the oil at sea, tanker to tanker, at night, and relabeling their cargo as originating at other producers for a price. I have been checking this for weeks with my trusted Persian Gulf traders – and they all confirm it. Iran could go on doing it forever.

Of course, the Trump administration knows it. But the fact is they are looking the other way. To state it as concisely as possible: they are caught in a trap by the absolute folly of ditching the JCPOA, and they are looking for a face-saving way out. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned the administration in so many words: the US should return to the agreement it reneged on before it’s too late.

And now for the really hair-raising part.

The strike at Abqaiq shows that the entire Middle East production of over 18 million barrels of oil a day – including Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – can be easily knocked out. There is zero adequate defense against these drones and missiles.

Well, there’s always Russia.

Here’s what happened at the press conference after the Ankara summit this week on Syria, uniting Presidents Putin, Rouhani and Erdogan.

Question: Will Russia provide Saudi Arabia with any help or support in restoring its infrastructure?

President Putin: As for assisting Saudi Arabia, it is also written in the Quran that violence of any kind is illegitimate except when protecting one’s people. In order to protect them and the country, we are ready to provide the necessary assistance to Saudi Arabia. All the political leaders of Saudi Arabia have to do is take a wise decision, as Iran did by buying the S-300 missile system, and as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did when he bought Russia’s latest S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft system. They would offer reliable protection for any Saudi infrastructure facilities.

President Hassan Rouhani: So do they need to buy the S-300 or the S-400?

President Vladimir Putin: It is up to them to decide [laughs].

In The Transformation of War, Martin van Creveld actually predicted that the whole industrial-military-security complex would come crumbling down when it was exposed that most of its weapons are useless against fourth-generation asymmetrical opponents. There’s no question the whole Global South is watching – and will have gotten the message.

Hybrid war, reloaded

Now we are entering a whole new dimension in asymmetric hybrid war.

In the – horrendous – event that Washington would decide to attack Iran, egged on by the usual neocon suspects, the Pentagon could never hope to hit and disable all the Iranian and/or Yemeni drones. The US could expect, for sure, all-out war. And then no ships would sail through the Strait of Hormuz. We all know the consequences of that.

Which brings us to The Big Surprise. The real reason there would be no ships traversing the Strait of Hormuz is that there would be no oil in the Gulf left to pump. The oil fields, having been bombed, would be burning.

So we’re back to the realistic bottom line, which has been stressed by not only Moscow and Beijing but also Paris and Berlin: US President Donald Trump gambled big time, and he lost. Now he must find a face-saving way out. If the War Party allows it.