Dr. Ely Karmon in an interview to the Argentinian international website Infobae (September 16, 2019) on…
It is very probable that Iran is behind this major strategic attack against Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.
The US has to give proof that the drones, or missiles, were fired from Iran, or from Iraq, including by pro-Iranian Shiite militias. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi that the United States has information confirming Baghdad’s denial that Iraqi territory was used to launch an attack on Saudi oil facilities.
But even if the Yemeni Houthis did it, it was, in my opinion, an Iranian operation, with their precise intelligence, training and possible control on the ground.
For the moment there is a serious economic problem on the global level, although President Trump has promised to help with US oil reserves.
It seems the Saudi reaction is quite muted taking in consideration the magnitude of the event and the damage to the facilities. Saudi Arabia is in a position of weakness while entangled without much success in the Yemeni war, and even in recent conflict with their UAE allies. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have not responded forcefully also to the previous attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf and Iran has seen this as weakness, and has hijacked yet another oil tanker.
President Trump was in a process of negotiation with the Iranians and not far from a meeting with Rouhani. This was also seen by Iranian leaders as weakness, and now they have raised the stakes.
Although the last twit by President Trump has hinted to a military response, (US ‘locked and loaded depending on verification’), all his actions lately in the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, Gulf) have shown he is not ready for a military challenge of Iran.
Let’s see if Saudi Arabia and the UAE will have the guts to attack important Iranian assets and thus drag president Trump also to a necessary retaliation against Iran.
The Gulf countries have supported in the past Arab, Balochi and possibly Kurdish separatists in Iran. Iran has accused Saudi Arabia to have supported the ISIS cells (with Kurdish members) that attacked the Iranian Parliament and Khomeini mausoleum in June 2017.
The Gulf states have also some leverage on the Sunnis in Iraq, and even on part of the Iraqi political establishment. They could foment something in Iraq.
For the moment it is not clear how the military escalation will evolve. At least the attack will stop the US-Iran secret negotiations. As for a massive military response, it is hard to see it coming from the United States in an electoral season.
It will be interesting to see how this event will impact on the public internal and regional standing of the Saudi Crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
Addendum update: The US has reportedly identified locations in Iran from which drones and cruise missiles were launched against major Saudi oil facilities on Saturday. Senior US officials told media outlets that the locations were in southern Iran, at the northern end of the Gulf. Saudi air defences did not stop the drones and missiles because they were pointed southwards, to prevent attacks from Yemen, they added (BBC, September 18, 2019).
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