American Resistance To Empire

Saudi Stupidity and Inexperience Have Isolated The Desert Troublemakers

“Not surprisingly, the Saudis are finding themselves with no ally to protect them. They cannot fight Iran alone. Stupidity and inexperience are the two guiding lights of its de facto ruler, the crown prince”

Trump and the Saudis sowed chaos. Iran is giving it back

A cursory look at the balance of power in the region will show how unequal a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran will be

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on 16 September (AFP)

Shock and awe.

The words the Pentagon used when it enjoyed a monopoly on the use of force and was about to rain it down on Saddam Hussein, are coming back to haunt it, two presidents on.

US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are shocked and awed by Iran. Tehran – and not Washington – is adept at mounting displays of rapid dominance to disorientate its enemy. No greater display of shock and awe could have been mounted than the one that hit two of Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil terminals on Saturday.

Drones or missiles?

The Saudis were defenceless and the target was hit with pinpoint accuracy. Try, as the US might, to avert the attention to Iran, there is little doubt that at least some of the drones and possibly missiles used in the attack flew over Kuwait, which means that they were flying south from Iraq.

The attack was witnessed and recorded by a bird hunter on the triangular border of Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia

The attack was witnessed and recorded by a bird hunter on the triangular border of Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In three different clips sounds of low flying drones or missiles are heard  – all of whom are travelling south.

In the video which has gone viral on social media, the bird hunter refers to four to five smaller planes which were followed by what he thought were missiles. He said he was near Salmi where the three borders meet at the time of the attack on Saturday morning.

Even better, from Iran’s point of view, was the row that followed the attacks, between a justifiably irate Iraqi prime minister and Pompeo.

Initially, the Americans released satellite pictures of the oil tanks being hit from the north west – evidence that the drones and missiles came from Iraq, not eastwards from Iran. However they were soon forced to backtrack and claim the attacks came directly from Iran.

Map showing the approximate route of the drones based on information from Iraqi intelligence
Map showing the approximate route of the drones based on information from Iraqi intelligence

Adel Abdul Mahdi’s statement, which he compelled the Americans to endorse, was a masterful mixture of denial and confirmatory threat. He denied the attack had been launched from Iraqi soil – in contradiction to the intelligence briefing he had just received – and threatened anyone against using proxies on Iraq’s soil.

This was aimed at Pompeo, as much as it was anyone else.

Another Gulf war

Months before, the US had floated the idea with Abdul Mahdi that the US wanted to bomb Iraqi Hezbollah, another Iranian proxy militia, from where a drone strike against Saudi Arabia had originated.

Abdul Mahdi persuaded Pompeo to stand that attack down. The US instead allowed Israeli drones to strike Iranian-backed Popular Mobilisation Units (PMUs) or al-Hashd al-Shaabi targets from Kurdish bases in Syria.

Was the US, let alone a president fighting reelection, prepared for another Gulf War ? Had not his country seen enough war this century?

After these attacks, Abdul Mahdi faced intense domestic pressure from his political allies to publicly name Israel as the aggressor. He refused for the very reason that he today denies where the retaliatory drones came from.

Had he named America’s principle ally in the region, he would have declared that a state of war existed between thousands of US troops on his soil and al-Hashd, Iraq’s best troops, which he is trying painfully to re-integrate into his national forces.

Did America really want that to happen? Was the US, let alone a president fighting reelection, prepared for another Gulf War? Had not his country seen enough war this century?

Abdul Madhi’s arguments hit home.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad, Iraq on 9 January (Reuters)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad, Iraq on 9 January (Reuters)

Scrambling around for ways of delivering a “proportionate” response, Trump and Pompeo did not have an answer then and do not have one now.

‘Locked and loaded’

To date, Iran and its network of militias in Yemen and Iraq have shot down a US drone, blown holes through tankers off the Emirati ports, seized a British tanker, attacked airports, pipelines and oil terminals, and now have delivered the biggest strike against Saudi oilfields in the long and war-torn history of the Gulf.

Iran is sending Trump a clear message: “You want chaos? You want to tear up international treaties negotiated by your predecessor and slap sanctions on us? Well, we can give you chaos

Neither during the Iran-Iraq War, nor Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait and the first Gulf War, nor in the Second Iraq War, has Saudi Arabia ever had to halve its oil production, as it has done this week.

By so doing, Iran is sending Trump a clear message: “You want chaos? You want to tear up international treaties negotiated by your predecessor and slap sanctions on us? Well, we can give you chaos, and you will soon find out how vulnerable your allies are.”

Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, has used every international forum for months to signal Iran’s intentions to fight back. He said this in August in Stockholm: “President Trump cannot be unpredictable and expect others to be predictable. Unpredictability will lead to mutual unpredictability and unpredictability is chaos.”

Zarif was not listened to then. Maybe he will be now.

A cursory look at the balance of power in the region will show Trump how unequal a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran will be.

The strategic depth

It has taken Iran decades to create what it calls a “strategic depth” of battle-hardened militias by whom it has always stood, funded, armed and trained. And it is not about to abandon them now, however much they are hit by Israel.

Saudi Arabia has also funded and backed militias in the region, particularly in Syria, but is notorious for dumping its allies and talking instead to their enemies. This happened in Syria and Yemen.

Iran, which has survived decades of sanctions and war, has a high pain threshold. It has developed its own arms industry and it can defend itself.

Saudi Arabia has a very low pain threshold and can not defend itself. As Trump himself reminded it, the kingdom would not last for two weeks without American protection.

Iran’s regional network is in place and fully functioning. Its weapons are locked and loaded. It has built a strategic alliance with two of the region’s other military powers – Russia and Turkey – which appears able to survive considerable tensions in Syria.

Saudi Arabia’s regional network is crumbling. Its closest ally, the United Arab Emirates, has clearly parted company with the Saudi coalition assembled to fight the Houthis in Yemen. The UAE’s announcement that its forces were leaving Yemen took the Saudis by surprise.

Then came the fight between rival proxy militias over the southern port of Aden, which involved Saudi and Emirati planes bombing each other’s Yemeni proxies. The Emirati plan – to install southern separatists in the south and leave the north to rot – clearly does not solve Riyadh’s problem, all of which continues in the north.

Saudi-Emirati tensions

The tensions between the Saudis and the Emiratis over Yemen burst into state-controlled media.

When six Emiratis soldiers died recently, there was some evidence to believe that they had been killed in Libya, not in Yemen. The Emiratis could not admit their forces were fighting alongside Khalifa Haftar and thus breaking the international embargo.

The Saudi state run al Arabiya channel, which ironically is based in Dubai, refused to tow the official Emirati line and said merely the soldiers had been “killed”. They refused to describe them as martyrs.

This led to an extraordinary outburst from a UAE activist close to the government in Abu Dhabi, Hamed al Mazroui. Mazroui described Al Arabiya as “the whore of all media, with no competitor”. He deleted the tweet but kept up his fire on its director Abdulrahman al-Rashed.

On the ground, the Houthis understand what the Emirates are trying to do and the implicit Faustian pact the UAE is making with Iran – you keep the north, we will have the south. The Houthis exchanged prisoners with Emirati-backed militias, while they refused a prisoner exchange with forces loyal to the exiled Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

New battlegrounds

Wider afield, Iran now has established ties with Turkey and Russia, despite the very different agendas the three regional powers pursue in Syria. Not content with the chaos it has created in its own backyard, Saudi Arabia is continuing to seek new battlegrounds and opening up new fronts.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has lost patience, as he puts it, with Turkey over its handling of the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last Octobar in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are seen during the G20 summit (Reuters)
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are seen during the G20 summit (Reuters)

Accordingly, he has decided to step up his campaign against Turkey by fishing in Cypriot waters. The Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Adulaziz al Assaf said during a visit to Cyprus that Saudi Arabia supports the Greek Cypriots against Turkey’s oil and gas exploration in the Mediterranean.

Running out of allies

Not surprisingly, the Saudis are finding themselves with no ally to protect them. They cannot fight Iran alone. Stupidity and inexperience are the two guiding lights of its de facto ruler, the crown prince. Who else could have promised to take the battle “into the heart of Iran” only to find himself dousing fires in the heart of Saudi Arabia?

He is alone, save for a reluctant and quixotic US president who has fewer cards to play than he has. Trump’s behaviour is not a great return for the investment of hundreds of millions of riyals that bin Salman spent on US arms contracts.

The least that could be said of previous generations of Saudi leaders was that for all their faults, they kept cautious control of their region. They knew how to balance competing interests and played host to most of them.

Mohammed Bin Salman has thrown caution to the wind and now finds himself with few cards to play. Yemen, Oman and Jordan are hostile. Qatar and Turkey have openly sided with Iran. The Emiratis pursue their own agenda.

Unlike Iran, the Saudis are not used to hardship and are profoundly ill suited to waging a regional war which they themselves promoted. Perhaps that is why a profound silence will follow the show of shock and awe that took place on Saturday.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

David Hearst
David Hearst is the editor in chief of Middle East Eye. He left The Guardian as its chief foreign leader writer. In a career spanning 29 years, he covered the Brighton bomb, the miner’s strike, the loyalist backlash in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in Northern Ireland, the first conflicts in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in Slovenia and Croatia, the end of the Soviet Union, Chechnya, and the bushfire wars that accompanied it. He charted Boris Yeltsin’s moral and physical decline and the conditions which created the rise of Putin. After Ireland, he was appointed Europe correspondent for Guardian Europe, then joined the Moscow bureau in 1992, before becoming bureau chief in 1994. He left Russia in 1997 to join the foreign desk, became European editor and then associate foreign editor. He joined The Guardian from The Scotsman, where he worked as education correspondent.

This Nuclear Attack Simulation May Show How It All Will End

VIDEO: This is how a nuclear war would play out, according to a Princeton University simulation
Nuclear Explosion (Romolo Tavani/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

More than 91 million people would be killed or injured in the initial phase of a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia, according to a simulation video released by Princeton University’s Science and Global Security program. Spoiler alert: New York City’s luck runs out just after the video’s three-minute mark.

The video simulation called “Plan A” was introduced earlier this month and is based on logistical information from Stevens Institute of Technology’s Nuke Map.

Plan A states nuclear war between Russia and a U.S. coalition would begin in Europe, where the Russians would launch 300 warheads westward via missiles and bombers. NATO would answer with 180 aircraft going nuclear on the Russians. There would be 2.6 million casualties during that three-hour exchange, Princeton researchers believe.

“With Europe destroyed, NATO launches a strategic nuclear strike of 600 warheads from U.S. land and submarine-based missiles aimed at Russian nuclear forces,” the Princeton model forecasts.

Russia would fire back with nuclear arms launched from silos, mobile land vehicles and submarines. That 45-minute volley claims 3.4 million “immediate casualties,” according to Plan A.

In the next phase of the nuclear war simulation, which is called “The Countervalue Plan,” Russia and NATO double-down on each other’s 30 largest cities to inhibit each other’s ability to recover. That part of the plan does not bode well for New York City. It would bring the hypothetical war’s casualty count over the 85 million mark.

The final tally would total 91.5 million people, which includes 34.1 million immediate deaths and 57.4 million injuries, many of which would become deaths due to nuclear fallout.

Princeton researchers reported that the possibility of a nuclear holocaust is significantly higher than it was in 2016.

“The risk of nuclear war has increased dramatically in the past two years as the United States and Russia have abandoned long-standing nuclear arms control treaties, started to develop new kinds of nuclear weapons and expanded the circumstances in which they might use nuclear weapons,” the study notes.

CIA Prolong Afghan War By Preventing Peace Talks To Proceed w/Out American Interference

[The US (CIA) and PakistanI (ISI) have consistently used the Taliban and especially the Taliban “talks” to maintain (prolong) the Afghan War (SEE: Timeline of Afghanistan’s Peace Parade Extravaganza).  In a complex, collateral conceit, the US and Pakistani intelligence services have collaborated to prolong the Afghan war by making it unwinnable.  It gets much worse, these same intel agencies have also manipulated Afghan intelligence–National Directorate of Security–(NDS) to serve their interests, as well.  In addition, the CIA has also manipulated the spy agencies of Afghanistan’s neighbors, i.e., Indian intelligence (RAW), Tajik intel (SCNS), Turkmen intel (MNB), possibly even including Iranian intel.  Outside of S.E.Asia, the CIA is a virtual partner of every Gulf and Israeli intelligence service.

When the CIA either subsidizes or partners with these agencies, the agency then develops assets within those agencies who answer to the CIA first, before their home governments (SEE: Human Nature Is the Enemy of the State ).  It uses these assets to stage terror attacks in their home or other targeted countries.  All of these terrorists were originally trained in Pakistan’s madrassas and in the training camps in Afghanistan by CIA/ISI trainers.

After the Russo-Afghan war ended, the agency-trained “mujahideen” were available for deployment on foreign assignments in places like Bosnia, under CIA direction.  In Pakistan’s case, the ISI followed CIA lead (Serbia, Egypt) and it developed and deployed these “ultras” terrorists from Afghanistan to Kashmir, to destabilize Indian efforts there and in Afghanistan.  As a spin-off to that effort, agents from India’s RAW persuaded the Afghan NDS to work covertly w/RAW and CIA to develop their own “anti-Pakistan” Taliban (SEE: The Indian Art of Turning Jihadis Into Anti-Jihadis and the War On Pakistan), in order to return the proxy war to its home base, on Pakistani soil.  Former Afghan NDS chief Amrullah Saleh never admitted that such a counter-terror operation even existed, but he did indeed describe this process:

“Insurgency is like grass. Two ways to destroy it: You cut the upper part, and after four months, you have it back. You poison the soil where that grass is, then you eliminate it forever.”

The following post from Khaama News, given below, is an interview with Saleh, where he highlights the nature of the AfPak hybrid war engineered by the CIA proxy services.]

17 Aug 2019

The former Afghan intelligence chief and running mate of Ashraf Ghani in presidential elections reacted to the killing of the brother of Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada in an explosion in Pakistan.

Saleh said in a Twitter post “The name of the Talbn politburo is Quetta Shura. It is located in Quetta of Pakistan.”

Furthermore, Saleh said “One of their senior members was killed today in a blast as the rift is growing over the deal with the US & prospects of peace. Seemingly ultra ISI are killing the less ISI Talibn. Cheap proxies.”

An explosion in a Madrassa killed Hafiz Ahmadullah, the younger brother of Mullah Haibatullah in Quetta city of Pakistan on Friday afternoon.

The explosion took place this afternoon inside a Madrassa in Kuchlak area located in the outskirts of Quetta city.

The Pakistani police officials confirmed that the explosion killed 3 other people and wounded more than 20 others.

[Mr. Saleh describes the bloody murder of Afghan Taliban chief’s brother near Quetta as:

“ultra ISI are killing the less ISI Talibn. Cheap proxies,”

meaning that ISI is harvesting low-hanging fruit of its own Taliban resources, accrediting the bombing to other Taliban and not ISI personnel.

This is version 1 of reports on the event in Baluchistan, from Afghan intelligence.  Version 2 comes from the Pakistani controlled press source, “The News”.  Version 2 on the bombing tries to blame it upon the Taliban faction loyal to Guantanamo releasee, Mullah Rasool, who has been linked to Afghan intelligence (SEE: Afghanistan Sponsoring Guantanamo Taliban Mullah Rasoul?).  The Pak version fails to convince when it is claimed that the perpetrator was a suicide-bomber.]