Tue Sep 17th, 2019 at 12:08:15 PM EST
This is a diary I'm still working on as the most recent developments will be placed in a larger context of the Middle East from the Levant through all lost territories of the Western colonial powers and into the AfPak region of South Asia.
h/t Richard Silverstein @TikunOlam
More below the fold ...
Trump "Locked and Loaded" for Iran Attack on Saudi Arabia's Behalf
As part of Bibi Netanyahu's desperate pre-election machinations, he and Pres. Trump announced plans for a mutual defense pact, which they're set to sign after the election. It was a nice pre-election goodie offered by the American leader to help seal the Israeli leader's victory in a tight race.
But given Trump's statements today, Bibi doesn't need such an agreement for the U.S. to jump into action, were Israel to face a military threat. The U.S. president boasted that the U.S. is "locked and loaded" and waiting for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to give him the green light to attack Iran. Using macho slang more suitable for a Rambo movie than a presidential policy statement, this is a shameful bit of posing. It makes Trump appear to be MBS' partner in crime, rather than the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.
Apparently, Sen. Lindsey Graham can fire off a tweet calling for military strikes against Iran in retaliation for the missile assault on Saudi oil fields yesterday, and Trump immediately phones in an airstrike. That's how U.S. military strategy works these days.
See my recent diary - Defense Pact: Vote Bibi and Get Trump Too!
Tikun Olam article continues ...
Iranian Missiles Attacked Saudi Arabia from Bases in Iraq
David Hearst confirms reports that the devastating attack which took out half of Saudi oil production yesterday, was the product of Iranian missile strikes originating from southern Iraq. Though Iran's leadership has denied it was responsible, Hearst's report seems far more credible:
The strikes which paralysed the Saudi oil industry on Saturday morning, forcing it to halve its output of crude oil, were made by Iranian drones launched from Hashd al-Shaabi bases in southern Iraq, a senior Iraqi intelligence official has told Middle East Eye.
The attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais, two key Aramco facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia, were in retaliation for Israeli drone strikes on Hashd al-Shaabi bases and convoys in August, which were co-ordinated and funded by the Saudis, the official said.
If you read my post published last night, you'll recall that I speculated that this attack was connected to the Israeli assaults on Iranian assets and bases inside Iraq. Turns out I was right. Hearst further details the purpose of the attack ...
Israeli strikes in Iraq launched from SDF-held Syria, Baghdad believes | MEE - Aug. 27, 2019 |
Iraq's intelligence services believe that five recent drone attacks on Iraqi paramilitaries were launched from bases under the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia's control in north Syria, an official told Middle East Eye.
The Iraqi official, who has knowledge of the latest intelligence briefing from Baghdad's security services, said the strikes were conducted by Israel, with the understanding of the SDF and backing of Saudi Arabia.
"The drone attacks were launched from SDF areas with the financing and backing of the Saudis," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told MEE.
Since July, a series of explosions have hit bases, weapons depots and a convoy belonging to the Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF), a grouping of mostly Shia militias with close ties to Iran.
The most recent, on Sunday, saw two unmanned aircraft strike one of the PMF's positions near the border with Syria, killing one fighter and severely wounding another, according to the group.
According to the senior official, the plan to strike the Iran-backed paramilitaries in Iraq was hatched when Thamer al-Sabhan, the Saudi minister of state for Gulf affairs, visited SDF-held northeastern Syria in June.
There Sabhan, who is known to be one of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's top lieutenants, laid the groundwork by offering the initially reticent SDF funds in return for their base being used as a launchpad for the strikes.
The SDF is a Kurdish-led militia that currently holds swathes of Syria's oil-rich northeast, after waging a campaign against the Islamic State (IS) group with significant US-backing. It remains Washington's chief partner in the country.
Is Saudi visit to eastern Syria prelude to greater U.S., Saudi role? | JPost - June 17, 2019 |
The Saudi minister for Gulf affairs,Thamer al-Sabhan, visited eastern Syria and met US officials over the weekend. It is his second known visit since 2017 when he traveled to Raqqa after its liberation from Islamic State. The visit has fueled rumors that the US, perhaps with Saudi Arabia's support, will continue to invest in eastern Syria.
Sabhan appears to have gone to Syria after he attended the inauguration of the new Kurdistan Regional Government President Nechirvan Barzani on June 10. Saudi Arabia invested $100 million in efforts to stabilize eastern Syria in October 2018. The US-led anti-ISIS coalition and its Syrian Democratic Forces partners have been trying to revive eastern Syria after years of conflict. Raqqa fell in 2017 and ISIS was fully defeated in March near the Euphrates River. But ISIS sleeper cells continue to carry out attacks and sabateurs have burned fields across eastern Syria.
○ Saudi hawk minister leads campaign against Iran and proxies | AP News - Nov. 2017 |
In this Oct. 28, 2016 photo, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri shakes hands with Saudi Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan in Beirut (LebanonDalati Nohra via AP)
Is Thamer Al-Sabhan positioned in the footsteps of war criminal Prince Bandar, leading Al Qaeda forces from Anbar Province into Syria through the Euphrates Valley corridor?
Al Jazeera: Cruise missiles launched from border area Iraq-Iran
Reprisal for Jewish-Arab alliance in recent drone attacks across Iraq from the Kurdish controlled region (SDF militia) in Euphrates valley of Syria.
Deir ez-Zor missile strike in 2017 - Wikipedia
On 18 June 2017, under Operation Laylat al-Qadr (Persian: عملیات لیلةالقدر), Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) fired six surface-to-surface mid-range ballistic missile from domestic bases targeting ISIL forces in the Syrian Deir ez-Zor Governorate in response to the terrorist attacks in Tehran earlier that month. Next day, the IRGC published aerial videos recorded by the Damascus-based IRGC drones flying over the city during the operation, confirming that the missiles had successfully hit the targets with precision. The attack constituted the first operational use of Iran's ballistic missiles since the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.
In a statement released by IRGC in connection with the strike, they warned terrorists and "their regional and trans-regional supporters" against any new terrorist attacks on Iran. They threatened to respond with greater intensity, should Iran's security be jeopardized by its enemies again.
For the conservative insight following the press and media, see my previous diary ...
○ Houthi Drones Have Become Cruise Missiles
My analysis from the start indicated the sophistication and accuracy of the attack had to be from an outside actor, perhaps in addition to inside Saudi spying. Saudi Arabia always denies the Holy Places of Muhammed could be threatened by terrorists, Islamic State and Al Qaeda remnants. The Saudi Monarchy erred before.
Related reading from my earlier diaries on the Middle East ...
○ Fucking Israelis Stirring Up Big Trouble
○ Challenging Russia with Swarming Suicide Drones in Syria
○ Free Syrian Army Defeated, US Entices Saudi Led Terror Group