'Worse than Thatcher': Unions attack Boris Johnson
Union leaders have launched a series of blistering attacks on Boris Johnson as they demanded the ruling out of a no-deal Brexit. The moderate head of the TUC, general secretary Frances O'Grady, said unions did not trust the prime minister and claimed he was ready to defy the law. And the TUC president, left-winger Mark Serwotka, claimed Mr Johnson was "worse than Thatcher" and a "vicious, nasty, right-wing bigot".
For years, Saudi Arabia has been a major buyer of U.S.-made weapons. That relationship intensified after President Trump took office, with the American leader pushing oil-rich Riyadh to buy more weapons and Saudi Arabia pledging a purchase of $110 billion in U.S. arms just months after his inauguration.
After this weekend, when a devastating attack on Saudi oil facilities blindsided the kingdom, some observers were left wondering what protection Riyadh’s outreach to the United States has bought it.
'Rebel' Saudi women shun obligatory abaya robe
Her high heels clacking on marble tiles, a defiant Saudi woman turned heads and drew gasps as she strutted through a Riyadh mall -- without a body-shrouding abaya. The billowy over-garment, usually all-black, is customary public wear for women in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom, where it is widely seen as a symbol of piety. Last year, de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hinted during an interview with CBS that the dress code may be relaxed, saying the robe was not mandatory in Islam.
Notwithstanding the expensive military hardware purchased by Saudi Arabia, experts say, the Saturday attack represented an unusually well-planned operation that would have been difficult for even the most well-equipped and experienced countries to detect and neutralize.
“This was a really flawless attack,” said Michael Knights, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who has followed Saudi air defense for decades, adding that evidence suggests that only one of 20 missiles may have missed its target. “That’s astounding.”
Related: Iran warns US of 'immediate' retaliation in response to any attack
The attack has been claimed by Houthi insurgents in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been staging a troubled intervention since 2015. U.S. officials have suggested that at least part of the attack was launched from Iran, Saudi Arabia’s rival across the Persian Gulf.
Two Major Saudi Oil Installations Hit by Drone Strike, and U.S. Blames Iran
Drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck two key oil installations inside Saudi Arabia on Saturday, damaging facilities that process the vast majority of the country’s crude output and raising the risk of a disruption in world oil supplies.
The operation appeared to circumvent the defenses of Saudi Arabia’s military, including the six battalions of Patriot missile defense systems produced by U.S. defense contractor Raytheon — each of which can cost in the region of $1 billion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to Saturday’s attack with mockery. At an event Monday in Turkey, Putin suggested that Saudi Arabia buy the Russian-made S-300 or S-400 missile defense system, as Iran and Turkey had done. “They will reliably protect all infrastructure objects of Saudi Arabia,” Putin said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, also in attendance at the event, was seen grinning at the remarks.
The S-400 system is untested in real-life situations, but it costs less than the Patriot system and has technical features that are, on paper at least, an improvement on the U.S. system, including a longer range and the ability to operate in any direction.
Trump says the US is 'locked and loaded' as it awaits confirmation that Iran was the culprit behind the drone attack on Saudi oil plants after Tehran earlier insisted it is 'ready for war'
The President tweeted: 'Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification.'
Although Saudi Arabia once flirted with the idea of buying the S-400 system, it was probably aware that doing so would have a disastrous effect on its relationship with the Trump administration.
There is no evidence that the S-400, if deployed, could have handled Saturday’s incident better than the Patriot system. Even the best missile defense system cannot have a 100 percent success rate; shooting a moving target out of the sky is fundamentally difficult, requiring considerable speed and accuracy.
When Saudi officials claimed to have shot down a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis in 2017, a team of researchers argued in a report that the Patriot system, in fact, had done nothing to stop the missile, which had nearly hit its target — Riyadh’s airport.
Saturday’s attack would have been exponentially harder to neutralize than the 2017 strike. Both drones and cruise missiles appeared to have been used, with suggestions that the weapons were launched from multiple locations.
Saudi Oil Attack Photos Implicate Iran, U.S. Says; Trump Hints at Military Action
The Trump administration intensified its focus on Iran Sunday as the likely culprit behind attacks on important Saudi Arabian oil facilities over the weekend, with officials citing intelligence assessments to support the accusation and President Trump warning that he was prepared to take military action.
Knight said Saudi Arabia’s missile defense system was developed in the 1990s after watching the Iran-Iraq war and the Persian Gulf War, where airplanes and ballistic missiles were the main threat and could be spotted with radar easily, to be targeted by defense systems at a distance.
President Donald Trump speaks to the media before embarking on a West Coast swing from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on Sept. 16. Trump spoke about the attack on the Saudi oil facilities, saying it 'looks like' Iran is responsible for the attack.
A picture taken on Sept. 15 shows an Aramco oil facility near al-Khurj area, in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia raced today to restart operations at oil plants hit by drone attacks which slashed its production by half, as Iran dismissed US claims it was behind the assault.
In this photo, President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a ceremony to unveil the Iran-made Bavar-373, a long-range surface-to-air missile system at an undisclosed location in Iran, on Aug. 22. Rouhani struck a muscular tone on dealings with the U.S., saying that "talks are useless" as Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers crumbles further.
Trump Says Iran Appears Responsible for Saudi Attack but That He Wants to Avoid War
President Trump said Monday that Iran appeared to be responsible for the weekend attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.
A crew member checks the new name of Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya, formerly known as Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar on Aug. 18. Gibraltar rejected a US demand to seize the Iranian oil tanker at the centre of a diplomatic dispute as it prepared to leave the British overseas territory after weeks of detention.
A stern view of the Grace 1 super tanker in the British territory of Gibraltar, on Aug. 15, seized last month in a British Royal Navy operation off Gibraltar. The United States moved on Thursday, August 15 to halt the release of the Iranian supertanker Grace 1, detained in Gibraltar for breaching EU sanctions on oil shipments to Syria, thwarting efforts by authorities in London and the British overseas territory to defuse tensions with Tehran.
Marines with the Maritime Raid Force, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) climb a caving ladder to board the amphibious transport dock ship USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26) during a visit, board, search and seizure training exercise in the Gulf, in this undated handout picture released by U.S. Navy on July 25.
A Marine with the Maritime Raid Force, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) holds a tactical assault ladder during a visit, board, search and seizure exercise in the Gulf, in this undated handout picture released by U.S. Navy on July 25.
Iranian forces seized a ship, which it suspected of carrying smuggled fuel, state media reported on Aug. 4, marking the Revolutionary Guard's third seizure of a vessel in recent weeks and the latest show of strength by the paramilitary force amid a spike in regional tensions.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at a press conference in Tehran, Iran, on Aug. 5. Zarif lambasted recent U.S. financial sanctions against him, calling the move a "failure" for diplomacy amid escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf.
White House National Security Advisor John Bolton walks out of the White House West Wing on July 31, in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day the Treasury Department announced the U.S. imposes sanctions on Iran's foreign minister.
The European Union's political director Helga Schmid and Iran's deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, from left, wait for a bilateral meeting as part of the closed-door nuclear talks with Iran at a hotel in Vienna, Austria, Sunday, July 28.
North Korea Explains Conditions for Getting Rid of Nuclear Weapons Ahead of U.S. Talks
North Korea will discuss denuclearization "when threats and hurdles endangering our system security and obstructing our development are clearly removed beyond all doubt." North Korea has long been the target of international sanctions due to its development of nuclear weapons, assets the ruling Kim dynasty has argued was necessary to deter a potential U.S. invasion. Though Washington and Pyongyang have never normalized ties since clashing during the 1950s Korean War in which the U.S.
An aerial view shows a speedboat of Iran's Revolutionary Guard moving around the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero which was seized in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday by the Guard, in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
Global stock markets were subdued Monday while the price of oil climbed as tensions in the Persian Gulf escalated after Iran's seizure of a British oil tanker on Friday.
In this photo released by state-run IRIB News Agency, which aired on July 22, shows various crew members of the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero, that was seized by Tehran in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday, during a meeting.
In this photo released by state-run IRIB News Agency, which aired on Monday, July 22, shows members of the crew of the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero that was seized by Tehran in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday.
Deena with her husband Pappachan T V, parents of Dijo Pappachan, one of the crew members of British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, seized by Iran, cries as she watches television news at their home in Kochi, India, July 21.
Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter arriving at the Cabinet Office in Whitehall, central London, to attend a meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May of the Government's emergency committee Cobra after Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Persian Gulf.
A speedboat of the Iran's Revolutionary Guard moves around a British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which was seized on Friday by the Guard, in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, on July 21. Iran warned Sunday that the fate of a UK-flagged tanker it seized in the Gulf depends on an investigation, as Britain said it was considering options in response to the standoff.
Pompeo inadvertently admitted the Iran crisis is a 'direct result' of Trump’s actions
"There is a direct line you can draw from Trump's violation of the Iran deal and the risk of conflict today," one former US official told Insider.
Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt leaves 10 Downing Street on July 20, following a meeting held over British oil tanker Stena Impero which was captured in Iranian waters whilst en route to Saudi Arabia.
A video grab made available by Iranian state television's English-language service, Press TV reportedly shows the footage released by Iranian revolutionary guard (IRGC) from its drone which shows US navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz, 18 July 2019 (issued 19 July 2019). The release comes after the US said on 18 July that the USS Boxer had shot down an Iranian drone. Iran denies US shot down drone in Strait of Hormuz.
Undated handout photo issued by Stena Bulk of the British oil tanker Stena Impero which is believed to have been captured in Iranian waters whilst en route to Saudi Arabia. Owner Stena Bulk has confirmed that the tanker was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter whilst in international waters in the Strait of Hormuz and they are unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran.
U.S. Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA) speaks in favor of inclusion of House Amendment #270 to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), aimed at preventing war with Iran, at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on July 10.
Supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar on July 6. Iran demanded on July 5 that Britain immediately release the tanker it had detained, accusing it of acting at the bidding of the United States. Authorities in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on Spain's southern tip at the western entrance to the Mediterranean, said they suspected the tanker was carrying crude oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.
(L to R) Iran's Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi, government spokesman Ali Rabiei, and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi give a joint press conference at the presidential headquarters in Tehran on July 7. Iran said it would begin enriching uranium beyond a 3.67 percent cap set by a landmark nuclear deal "in a few hours", the Islamic republic's atomic energy organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said on July 7.
A British Royal Navy ship (L) patrols near supertanker Grace 1 suspected of carrying crude oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions after it was detained off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4. Iran demanded on July 5, that Britain immediately release the tanker, accusing it of acting at the bidding of the United States.
Aircraft maneuver into position for an Independence Day air power demonstration on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea on July 4. The USS Abraham Lincoln was rushed to the Mideast amid tensions between the U.S. and Iran as its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers unravels.
Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen addresses the U.N. Security Council briefing on implementation of the resolution that endorsed the Iran nuclear deal at the United Nations headquarters in New York, June 26.
Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Majid Takht Ravanchi delivers a speech during the U.N. Security Council on implementation of the resolution that endorsed the Iran nuclear deal at the United Nations headquarters on June 26.
A U.S. Air Force (USAF) pilot from the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron enters the cockpit of an F-35A Lightning II before Exercise Tri-Lightning, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, June 25.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani speaks during the cabinet meeting in Tehran, on June 26. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said in a tweet that the newly announced sanctions meant that the channel of diplomacy has been closed forever.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a meeting with the Health Ministry officials, in Tehran, Iran on June 25. Iran on Tuesday sharply criticized new U.S. sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic's supreme leader and other top officials.
US National Security Advisor John Bolton (R) speaks next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Nikolai Patrushev (C), Russian Secretary of the Security Council, during a press conference of the trilateral meeting of the US, Russian and Israeli national security advisers in Jerusalem, Israel on June 25. The meeting is a first-ever trilateral summit between the Russian, Israeli and American national security advisers with Nikolai Patrushev Russian Secretary of the Security Council, Meir Ben Shabbat, Israeli Security adviser and John Bolton, US National Security Advisor. the trilateral summit talks focuses on Iran, Syria and regional issues.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets with Mohamed ben Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in Abu Dhabi, UAE on June 24. The United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have jointly called for "diplomatic solutions" to ease soaring tensions with Iran.
Seated under a portrait of the Saudi monarch, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Al Salam Palace in the Red Sea port of Jeddah on June 24. - Pompeo arrived Monday in Saudi Arabia for talks on coordinating with the close ally amid mounting tensions with Iran.
Iranian Judiciary chief Ebrahim Rais (C) attends a meeting with foreign ambassadors in Iran in the Islamic republic's capital Tehran on June 24. - Iran denied the same day it was hit by a US cyber attack as Washington was due to tighten sanctions on Tehran in a standoff sparked by the US withdrawal from a nuclear deal.
President Donald Trump walks off Marine One at the White House after spending the weekend at Camp David on June 23, in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump warned the United States may launch a devastating military attack on Iran unless it comes to the negotiating table and drops its bid to develop nuclear weapons.
Protesters gather in front of the White House to speak out against a possible war with Iran on June 23, in Washington, DC. U.S. President Donald Trump said he almost launched a retaliatory strike after it was alleged that Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. drone last week, in a tweet he said he called off the attack after learning the number of potential casualties.
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on June 20 in Washington. Trump declared that "Iran made a very big mistake" in shooting down a U.S. drone but suggested it was an accident rather than a strategic error.
General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Iran's Head of the Revolutionary Guard's aerospace division, speaks to media next to debris from a downed US drone reportedly recovered within Iran's territorial waters and put on display by the Revolutionary Guard in the capital Tehran on June 21.
Protesters hold signs spelling out, "No War," outside the White House, on June 20 in Washington, after President Trump tweeted that "Iran made a very big mistake" by shooting down a US surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz in Iran.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen near a "3 Khordad" system which was allegedly been used to shoot down a U.S. military drone, according to news agency Fars, in this undated handout picture.
Journalists take pictures of a magnet the U.S. Navy says came from a limpet mine that didn't explode on a Japanese-owned oil tanker at a 5th Fleet base, during a trip organized by the Navy for journalists, near Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, on June 19.
This image released by the U.S. Department of Defense on June 17, and taken from a U.S. Navy helicopter, shows what the Navy says are members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy removing an unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks from the State Department briefing room on June 13, in Washington, DC. Pompeo said, "It is the assessment of the U.S. government that Iran is responsible for today's attacks in the Gulf of Oman. These attacks are a threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable escalation of tension by Iran."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during a welcoming ceremony at the Saadabad Palace in the capital Tehran on June 12. Abe arrived in Tehran on June 12 for a rare diplomatic mission, hoping to defuse tensions between the Islamic republic and Tokyo's ally Washington.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a media briefing at the State Department June 10, in Washington, D.C. Secretary Pompeo discussed topics including the latest development on tension with Iran.
This undated photograph from the United Arab Emirates' Mission to the United Nations released Thursday, June 6, shows a diver investigating the damage done to the Saudi-owned oil tanker Al Marzoqah off the coast of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. A joint statement released Thursday by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Norway said the damage done to the four oil tankers off the UAE likely came from limpet mines placed by a "state actor" amid U.S. and Saudi allegations Iran carried out the sabotage. Iran has denied being involved amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington.
President Trump talks to journalists as he departs the White House for a campaign rally in Pennsylvania on May 20 in Washington, DC. On his way to Montoursville, Pennsylvania, Trump said that Iran does not currently pose a direct threat to the United States.
However, cruise missiles and drones fly far closer to the ground, making them harder for radar to detect. Given the low altitude, shooting one down carries greater risk, especially when detected late. “If you are wrong, you just blew up a British Airways flight,” Knights said.
Saudi Arabia has several missile defense systems that can target a low-altitude flight. Thomas Karako, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that in theory the Patriot system could protect against such a threat, although it is primarily designed for ballistic missiles.
However, it would depend where it was placed. “The defended area for a Patriot battery is relatively small,” Karako said. “There are real limits, even if you have a ton of Patriots, on what you can defend.”
It is unclear whether the targeted oil facilities, in Khurais and Abqaiq, were defended by Patriot batteries or other systems.
Becca Wasser, a senior policy analyst at Rand Corp., said responsibility for protecting Saudi Arabia’s critical infrastructure was split between the Interior Ministry and the domestically focused Saudi Arabian National Guard, rather than the military.
Related: Most powerful military nations revealed (Photos)
Using over 55 factors to determine a country’s PowerIndex score, the Global Firepower 2019 list ranks the most powerful military nations in the world. Of the 137 advanced and lesser developed nations included, the parameters include their geographical location, natural resource reliance, manpower and current economic health. It must be noted that nuclear capability and current political/military leadership is not taken into account. Also, land-locked nations are not penalized for not having a standing navy. Here's a look at the 50 most powerful military nations, according to the list, as of April 2, 2019.
Population: 329,256,465 Available manpower: 144,872,845 Reaching military age annually: 4,188,274 Active personnel: 1,281,900 Reserve personnel: 860,000 Aircraft strength: 13,398 Combat tanks: 6,287 Naval assets: 415
Click herefor the full report.
“These overlapping structures, roles and responsibilities are really a vestige of coup-proofing practices,” Wasser said, designed to prevent any one wing of power from posing a threat to the ruling family.
Saudi Arabia is planning military reforms to address such problems, she added, part of society-wide changes being pushed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The kingdom, aware of the technical threat posed by Iran to key facilities, may also seek to purchase new weapons that could combat the threat better.
The Iron Dome missile defense system, co-designed by the Israeli defense firm Rafael and Raytheon, may be one possibility, Karako said. The system is best known for its use in Israel, where it is used to shoot down rockets from Gaza and southern Lebanon. “The Saudis want to get something like Iron Dome, but they probably won’t call it Iron Dome,” Karako said.
Saudi Arabia also may seek to improve its radar capabilities with the use of elevated sensors that can detect threats from farther away.
For the time being, however, the country may have to learn to make better use of what it has already. New purchases from the United States could take years to go through, especially given a Congress increasingly suspicious of Saudi Arabia and export restrictions in place on some of the more advanced U.S. technology.
There may not be any handouts from the White House. Though Trump pushed the Saudi military to make more purchases, he suggested Monday that the United States did not have an obligation to protect the kingdom — and that if there was a conflict, Riyadh would again foot the bill.
“The fact is that the Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this if we decide to do something. They’ll be very much involved, and that includes payment,” Trump said.
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Pompeo inadvertently admitted the Iran crisis is a 'direct result' of Trump’s actions.
"There is a direct line you can draw from Trump's violation of the Iran deal and the risk of conflict today," one former US official told Insider.
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