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OpinionThe Attack on Saudi Arabia Is the Crisis Iran Was Waiting For

18:05  17 september  2019
18:05  17 september  2019 Source:   nationalreview.com

Iran's nuclear chief: EU has failed to fulfill 2015 deal commitments

Iran's nuclear chief: EU has failed to fulfill 2015 deal commitments Iran's nuclear chief: EU has failed to fulfill 2015 deal commitments

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The Attack on Saudi Arabia Is the Crisis Iran Was Waiting For© Planet Labs Inc/Handout via Reuters Satellite view of the Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia September 14, 2019.

A sophisticated drone and cruise-missile attack on Saudi Arabia’s largest oil-processing facility on Saturday has sent shock waves through the world’s oil markets and leaves the U.S. and allies at a crossroads about how to deal with a growing threat from Iran and its supporters. This is the crisis Iran has been waiting for, with pro-regime media tweeting about the “unprecedented attack” and parroting the threats of Yemen’s Houthi rebels against Saudi oil infrastructure.

Images from Space Show Released Iranian Oil Tanker Near Syrian Coast

Images from Space Show Released Iranian Oil Tanker Near Syrian Coast Correction: September 10, 2019 This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the release of satellite images of the Adrian Darya 1. The images were released by the space technology company Maxar Technologies, not by two companies. BEIRUT, Lebanon — An Iranian oil tanker caught in the escalating feud between Iran, the United States and other Western nations has anchored off the coast of Syria, according to images released by a space technology company.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said Iran was behind the attack, and U.S. officials have released satellite images and spoken to media about details of the sophisticated assault. The attack showcases Iran’s precision weapons guidance. This is a threat that has been increasing for years. The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act apprised Congress of Iran’s ballistic-missile program and drones. Israel also warned about similar threats in early September, asserting that Iran was transferring precision missile guidance to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran has been boasting about its drone, cruise-missile, and precision munitions since a large drill it undertook in March.

Saudi Oil Attack Photos Implicate Iran, U.S. Says; Trump Hints at Military Action

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. 

However, Tehran has also been stymied in how to employ its arsenal, weighing the responses it wants to give in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran deal, in May 2018. For a year Iran used its good-cop, bad-cop routine, threatening to walk away from provisions of the deal if European and other countries didn’t work to get around Washington’s sanctions. But in May Tehran changed tactics. As sanctions took a bite, Tehran intimated that if Iran couldn’t export oil, neither would others. Washington has accused Iran of being behind the sabotage of six ships in May and June as well as the downing of a U.S. drone in June. Rockets also fell near U.S. bases in Iraq. Iran has also worked through its Houthi rebel allies in Yemen to supply know-how behind drone and air-defense technology. Pompeo says Iran is behind at least 100 attacks originating in Yemen.

Hard-Liners in Iran See No Drawback to Bellicose Strategy

Hard-Liners in Iran See No Drawback to Bellicose Strategy President Trump appeared to be softening toward Iran. He had broken with his administration’s leading advocate of confrontation, signaled a willingness to meet personally with his Iranian counterpart, and reportedly considered relaxing some sanctions. But Iran, American officials say, responded with violence. 

All this was window dressing for the more massive long-range attack that was to come this week. Two previous long-range attacks had targeted oil facilities west of Riyadh and near the border with the United Arab Emirates. In the latter attack, Iran’s Press TV claimed ten Yemeni drones had been responsible. The early hours of September 14 showed fires and explosions at Abqaiq. Satellite images revealed damage to almost 20 buildings, including liquified-natural-gas storage tanks. The damage wasn’t chaotic, as it would have been if someone tossed explosives and hoped they would hit their mark. Rather it was precise; one image shows four storage tanks hit in the same location.

This level of precision is important. As salient was the ability of a force purported to include dozens of drones and cruise missiles to evade air-defense systems in eastern Saudi Arabia near Bahrain. This should be an area, not far from the U.S. naval base in Bahrain and the Al-Udeid base in Qatar, as well as U.S. bases in the UAE and Kuwait, that would be well defended. Whether the attack originated directly from Iran or from Iran-backed Houthis, either scenario shows how extremely proficient Iran and its allies have become with drones and missiles. This is an indigenous weapons program that outpaces Iran’s nearest neighbors, with the exception of Israel. It is a threat that requires U.S. air defense and radar to help confront. The larger question for the Trump administration is not just about defending allies, but also about whether it wants to try to deter Iran. Despite warnings since May that Iranian actions would meet with retaliation, Washington has been reticent to retaliate militarily, preferring a campaign of “maximum pressure.” It is hard to ignore the Iranian regime’s pronouncements on September 10 that the departure of National Security Advisor John Bolton showed that the U.S. had failed in its pressure campaign. It is also hard to believe that the sophisticated Abqaiq attack was planned in only four days.

Tehran would have known that an unprecedented attack on key Saudi Arabian oil facilities by so many drones would raise eyebrows about claims that the poor and isolated Houthi rebels were behind it. The attack sends a clear message: This can get worse; end the sanctions and don’t risk the world’s oil supply. Iran thinks that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies won’t risk a conflict, and the Iranians think they called the Trump administration’s bluff in June. September 14 was a gamble but also a clear message felt across the Middle East. The era of Iran’s sophisticated precision-guided drone and cruise-missile attacks is here.

Read More

Attack on Saudi Arabia Tests U.S. Guarantee to Defend Gulf .
The oil-rich monarchies of the Persian Gulf have relied for decades on the promise of protection by the United States military, a commitment sealed by the rollback of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and reinforced by a half dozen American military bases that sprang up around the region. © Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters Debris from missiles that the Saudi government says were used in last weekend’s attack.

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