Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 16, 2019

Damage At Saudi Oil Plant Points To Well Targeted Swarm Attack

Saturday's attack on the Saudi oil and gas processing station in Abqaiq hit its stabilization facility:

The stabilization process is a form of partial distillation which sweetens "sour" crude oil (removes the hydrogen sulfide) and reduces vapor pressure, thereby making the crude oil safe for shipment in tankers. Stabilizers maximize production of valuable hydrocarbon liquids, while making the liquids safe for storage and transport, as well as reduce the atmospheric emissions of volatile hydrocarbons. Stabilizer plants are used to reduce the volatility of stored crude oil and condensate.

Soon after the attack U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went into full 'blame Iran' mode:

Secretary Pompeo @SecPompeo - 21:59 UTC · Sep 14, 2019
Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.
We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression

Abqaiq lies at the heart of the Saudi oil infrastructure. It processes more than half of the Saudi oil output.


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The U.S. government published two detailed pictures of the attack's result.


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The pictures show some 17 points of impact. There are cars visible in the second more detailed picture that demonstrate the gigantic size of the place. The targets were carefully selected. At least 11 of those were egg shaped tanks with a diameter of some 30 meter (100 foot). These are likely tanks for pressurized (liquidized) gas that receive the condensate vapor from the stabilization process. They all have now quite neat holes in their upper shells.

The piping to and from the egg shaped tanks shows that these were configured in groups with double redundancy. Two tanks beside each other share one piping system. Two of such twin tanks are next to each other with lines to their processing train. There are a total of three such groups. Damage to any one tank or group would not stop the production process. The products would be routed to another similar tank or group. But with all tanks of this one special type taken out the production chain is now interrupted.

Two processing areas were hit and show fire damage. At least the control equipment of both was likely completely destroyed:

Consultancy Rapidan Energy Group said images of the Abqaiq facility after the attack showed about five of its stabilization towers appeared to have been destroyed, and would take months to rebuild - something that could curtail output for a prolonged period.

“However Saudi Aramco keeps some redundancy in the system to maintain production during maintenance,” Rapidan added, meaning operations could return to pre-attack levels sooner.

The targeting for this attack was done with detailed knowledge of the process and its dependencies.

The north arrow in those pictures points to the left. The visible shadows confirm the direction. The holes in the tanks are on the western side. They were attacked from the west.

The hits were extremely precise. The Yemeni armed forces claimed it attacked the facility with 10 drones (or cruise missiles). But the hits on these targets look like neither. A total of 17 hits with such precise targeting lets me assume that these were some kind of drones or missiles with man-in-the-loop control. They may have been launched from within Saudi Arabia.

There is no information yet on the damage in Khurais, the second target of the attacks.

The U.S. and Israel are able to commit such attacks. Iran probably too. Yemen seems unlikely to have this capability without drawing on extensive support from elsewhere. The planing for this operation must have taken months.

A Middle-East BBC producer remarks:

Riam Dalati @Dalatrm - 22:44 UTC · Sep 15, 2019
17 points of impact. No Drones or missiles were detected/intercepted. Saudis & Americans still at loss as to where the attack was launched from. #KSA seriously needs to shop elsewhere & replace the Patriot or reinforce it with a web of radar operated AA guns like the Oerlikon.
A source familiar with #Aramco situation told us earlier today that it was a “swarm attack”, a mix of > 20 drones and missiles, at least half of which were "suicide" drones. #USA & #KSA, he said, are 'certain' that attack was launched from #Iraq but 'smoking gun still missing'
They are also 'fairly certain' that #IRGC was behind the operation because, even though the missiles used were identical to those of the #Houthis, an inspection of the debris found in the desert revealed a 'couple of new updates' and a 'distinctly better craftsmanship'

The Wall Street Journal reports of the damage:

The strikes knocked out 5.7 million barrels of daily production, and the officials said they still believe they can fully replace it in coming days. That would require tapping oil inventories and using other facilities to process crude. One of the main targets of the attack was a large crude-processing plant in Abqaiq.
...
“It is definitely worse than what we expected in the early hours after the attack, but we are making sure that the market won’t experience any shortages until we’re fully back online,” said a Saudi official.
...
Even if Saudi officials were successful in restoring all or most of the lost production, the attack demonstrates a new vulnerability to supply lines across the oil-rich Gulf.

Tankers have been paying sharply higher insurance premiums, while shipping rates have soared in the region after a series of maritime attacks on oil-laden vessels, which the U.S. has blamed on Iran.
...
Khurais produces about 1.5 million barrels a day and Abqaiq, the world’s biggest crude-stabilization facility, processes seven million barrels of Saudi oil a day, turning crude into specific grades, such as Arabian Extra Light.

The repairs at Abqaiq will likely take weeks, not days. Brent crude futures rose by 19.5 percent to $71.95 per barrel, the biggest jump since 14 January, 1991:

Aramco gave no timeline for output resumption. A source close to the matter told Reuters the return to full oil capacity could take “weeks, not days”.

Riyadh said it would compensate for the damage at its facilities by drawing on its stocks, which stood at 188 million barrels in June, according to official data.

U.S. President Donald Trump was way more careful in attributing the strike than his Secretary of State.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 0:50 UTC · Sep 16, 2019
Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!

Any direct attack on Iran would result in swarms of missiles hitting U.S. military installations in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Saudi water desalination plants, refineries and ports would also be targets.

It is doubtful that Trump or the Saudis are ready to risk such a response.

The attack on Abqaiq was not the last one and all Saudi installations are extremely vulnerable:

Yemen’s Houthi rebels said oil installations in Saudi Arabia remain among their targets after attacks against two major sites slashed the kingdom’s output by half and triggered a surge in crude prices.

The Iranian-backed rebel group, cited by the Houthi’s television station, said its weapons can reach anywhere in Saudi Arabia. Saturday’s attacks were carried out by “planes” using new engines, the group said, likely referring to drones.

Middle East Eye, a Qatari financed outlet, reported yesterday that the attack was launched from Iraq by Iran aligned forces in revenge for Israeli attacks in Syria. The author, David Hearst, is known for slandered reporting. The report is based on a single anonymous Iraqi intelligence source. Qatar, which is struggling with Saudi Arabia and the UAE over its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, would like to see a larger conflict involving its rivals east and west of the Persian Gulf. The report should therefore be disregarded.

Saudi Arabia has no defenses against this kind of attacks. The U.S. has no system that could be used for that purpose. Russia is the only country that can provide the necessary equipment. It would be extremely costly, and still insufficient, to protect all of the Saudi's vital facilities from similar swarm attacks.

Attacks of this kind will only end when Saudi Arabia makes peace with Yemen and when the U.S. ends its sanctions of oil exports from Iran. As Iran's President Rouhani said:

“If one day they want to prevent the export of Iran’s oil, then no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf”

It is high time for hawks like Pompeo to recognize that Iran means what it says and has the tools to fulfill that promise.

Posted by b on September 16, 2019 at 9:48 UTC | Permalink

Comments
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I am concerned that the Trump Administration and the Saudi royal family will conclude that time is not on their side. That suggests they may decide to attack Iran now rather than watch the strategic situation get worse as the Houthis or whoever, perfect their drone/missile attack technique.

Posted by: Wombat | Sep 16 2019 10:08 utc | 1

it seems to me that this is a very dangerous moment. An attack on Iran would most likely have the consequences you describe. Yet what is the US expected to do? There must be a response, something that will tell Iran and the rest of the world that such an attack cannot be tolerated.

Will the crazies get their way and set the middle east on fire? Would Israel be a willing participant in a massive attack on Iran? From what I read Iran will not accept a token revenge attack which might have been used in the past to show that the US did something.

I personally have dreaded this moment, it is the logical conclusion to all the problems in the Gulf and one that is by far the ugliest. It is truly a damn shame that the people running things for the US are such hate filled, greedy, and shortsighted psychopaths.

my $.02

Posted by: dan of steele | Sep 16 2019 10:08 utc | 2

Frankly, I don't think you need to be a state actor to achieve this though being a state actor certainly would help. You need an Aramco insider telling you where to hit and computer knowledge of drones.

Bahrain is 50 kilometers from where the drones hit and this means it was done under the very nose of the US.

The proximity to Bahrain, some 50 km. from the areas hit, leads to serious questions about how drones penetrated deep into Saudi airspace and hit the strategic facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais. The US Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, and America has air bases and other facilities along the Gulf from Kuwait to the UAE protected by its air defense. They also have radar that can detect threats more than 150 km. away, which should be able to detect drones. Yet the drone attacks at 4 a.m. don’t seem to have triggered a US response or alert. An email to CENTCOM resulted in a response that although the US was aware of open source reports, further inquiries should be directed to the Saudi Interior Ministry.

US has been negotiating with the Houthis, right? Why not Saudi Arabia?

Posted by: somebody | Sep 16 2019 10:31 utc | 3

The Saudi blockade has starved hundreds of thousands of Yemenis. What if they tightened the blockade even further and 1 million Yemenis die of famine?

Posted by: colonelharlansanders | Sep 16 2019 10:34 utc | 4

The costs of oil jumped, the damage minimal, a boost for Netanyahoo's desire for a military tie up with the U.S. in case of screw up, but don't look for it to be 2 way. And there's the ARAMCO stock sale, which will make a few rich if it comes to happen, but of course, looking in the crystal ball, doesn't foretell anything. Perhaps putting the horse before the cart, might be an apt view, especially from the U.S. standpoint.

Posted by: Eugene | Sep 16 2019 10:36 utc | 5

"Big Bad Iran" - Good timing for Bibi!

What luck for Bibi this would happen just days before he faces an election on a knife-edge!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_2019_Israeli_legislative_election

Posted by: Julian | Sep 16 2019 10:36 utc | 6

The suggestion that this was launched from inside the Saudi desert is a reason to think the Houthis did this. They are among the people most able to get into that desert, since it is on their border, and to cross those deserts, since they've been doing that for centuries. Few others can operate so well out in that desert.

Posted by: Mark Thomason | Sep 16 2019 10:37 utc | 7

This here is David Schenker who is negotiating with the Houthis

They already got a retired US colonel to blab about a Pearl Harbour moment ....

Posted by: somebody | Sep 16 2019 10:48 utc | 8

This is bad news for people starving in Yemen. What will come from the skies will not be nice.

I am impressed by the regularity and alignement of the holes in the tankers. All aligned hole stuck at same height. This suggest a single flying object delivering sub munitions, timely pace. I vote for a computer controled firing mechanism, possibily using object recognition pattern (like openCV) to drive the control fire. A camera mounted on a drone with enough computing to analyze the image on the fly so to trigger the sub munition.

Posted by: murgen23 | Sep 16 2019 10:51 utc | 9

I don't think it was an Houti attack, or if it was it was also left to happen or even boosted by third parties. In the two links I attach, I think there are answers. The China / Iran agreement could be the end of the petrodollar. KSA and Iran are two of China's largest oil suppliers. Following the logic, perhaps "someone" has an interest in sacrificing the Saud to damage Iran and China and keep the petrodollar standing for a while longer

https://www.petroleum-economist.com/articles/politics-economics/middle-east/2019/china-and-iran-flesh-out-strategic-partnership

https://www.zerohedge.com/energy/us-surpasses-saudi-arabia-russia-become-worlds-top-oil-exporter

Posted by: Tiresia Branding | Sep 16 2019 10:54 utc | 10

The biggest looser will be china : they are the biggest petrol importer from the region with a devaluated Yuan.http://www.sloilfield.com/Exceed-KSA--Russia-Has-Become-the-Largest-Source-for-Crude-Oil-of-China_1282.html> http://www.sloilfield.com/Exceed-KSA--Russia-Has-Become-the-Largest-Source-for-Crude-Oil-of-China_1282.html

If the strait is closed to due war with Iran, china loose 53% of its petrol, Irak arrogance is tamed, green ligth to starve houthis, Japan will have to beg for fracks petrol who in all case get rich.
What do we wait for ?

Posted by: murgen23 | Sep 16 2019 11:03 utc | 11

It was the impoverished, famine-stricken Yemenis that were able to pull off this high-tech strike with surgical precision. Apparently, even a cave man could do it. YeAH

Posted by: Nick | Sep 16 2019 11:09 utc | 12

I don't really understand the logistics of this attack. None of it makes sense. Drones typically have a very limited range and time frame to operate - like about 7 km range and maybe 30 minutes. Missiles on the other hand can fly like airplanes and be remote controlled to a destination. I originally thought these were 'drones' but the distance to anywhere outside Saudi Arabia is simply too far (Sanna is 1300 km away)- so they could NOT be drones; but they could have for example been launched right outside these facilities and done this type of damage. If a swarm of drones took off right outside the gates of these facilities and were not picked up - that is a 'big' deal.

On the other hand, if in fact they were missiles with 'engines', and none of the radar tracking systems picked them up, then its a real vulnerability for Saudi Arabia. What does it say about the U.S.'s ability to detect this stuff too - with bases in the region monitoring everything? This too is a 'big' deal.

So all in all, if the 'fight' escalates, it also shows a dramatic vulnerability for the Saudi's and U.S. bases. Which means they are very very vulnerable, and puts them very much in harms way. i.e. an escalation with this type of vulnerability makes no sense.

The Houthis have been battered badly by the Saudi's - I can see them doing this. I can see them 'shopping' for ways to do this across the globe, including Iran. I mean there has been famine, massive civilian death counts from merciless Saudi bombing. It hurts Saudi Arabia where it counts; and right before the Aramco IPO road show being rolled out. Its brilliant.

But also, separately, I do see others with an interest in doing this. Saudi's own Shiite resistance groups. Qatar in a pissing match with Saudi Arabia. Even dare I say it Israel and Israeli backed groups like MEK, who now see a changed regime in Washington with Bolton out (trying to destroy any rapprochement with Iran).

Its too early to pin the blame solely and directly on Iran.

This is another 9/11 type situation, where the direct blame is placed on one place, only for people to appreciate afterwards that it was much too complex for a simplistic blame assignment. I mean we are still asked to believe that a bunch of quickly trained terrorists at the controls of a plane they never flew were able to make a 270 degree corkscrew dive to hit the pentagon precisely. Or that an invisible plane hit WT7 - or that it fell by itself with some steel beams hitting it.

Again, none of the logistics of this makes sense. This could not be done with simple drones or even undetected missiles. Which means its far more complex.

Its yet another case of an attack that somehow involves Saudi Arabia resulting in a mysterious multi-level logistical puzzle (like 9/11). None of it makes sense.

Posted by: doggydogdog | Sep 16 2019 11:26 utc | 13

It is high time for hawks like Pompeo to recognize that Iran means what it says and has the tools to fulfill that promise.

Complete nonsense.

You've lost all credibility with eveyone who isn't a system troll b, hence the need to rid yourself of all non sycophants.

Neither Iran nor medievil tribesmen from Yemen are conducting these operations. Everything is the product of Anglo-American Intelligence manipulation, of which you are a major purveyor.

Posted by: M I 6 or M I 7? | Sep 16 2019 11:36 utc | 14

Thethree smaller spheres in the top target square appear to be blackened whereas the 11 large spheres are not. The spheres been emptied after the first strike, then hit in a second wave could explain that, but there are no reports of a second strike.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 16 2019 11:39 utc | 15

As Condi Rice once said ( in 2006) :"theses are the birth pangs of the new ME".
I think this is the starting shot of the deal of the century ( exceptionnal timing) to be revealed just after bibi's elections.
Notice the 911 style: multiple objectives ( financial: ARAMCO IPO.., political, military, etc...) and multiple layers of deception ( Houthis claiming responsiblity with KSA insider comparses )
For now the only looser is KSA: 1/2B$ a day and a probable under pricing of Aramco IPO.

Posted by: go figure | Sep 16 2019 11:39 utc | 16

U.S. Shale Oil In Trouble As Production Stalls After Two Years Of Significant Growth

https://srsroccoreport.com/u-s-shale-oil-in-trouble-as-production-stalls-after-two-years-of-significant-growth/

Check the numbers there, the banks need higher oil prices to cover the losses that are coming from the shale parasites! Oil was headed lower and a backstop was needed to stop the slide and a lot of financial hurt.

Posted by: Taffyboy | Sep 16 2019 11:41 utc | 17

Somewhere, I saw the Houthis claiming responsibilities for the attacks and claiming it was done with the assistance of "right-thinking" people (that quote may not be accurate) inside Saudi Arabia, aka local Saudi supporters.

Posted by: Sam | Sep 16 2019 11:42 utc | 18

In spite of a lot of details given, this news is fully inconsistent with other satellite images. Other reports of the incident show smoke rising from a different location more than 2 km southeast from the described separator tanks. At least one side is fabricating wrong facts. Judge for yourself, e.g.:
https://a57.foxnews.com/static.foxnews.com/foxnews.com/content/uploads/2019/09/640/320/saudi-oil-attack.jpg?ve=1&tl=1

Posted by: MWL | Sep 16 2019 11:48 utc | 19

we can't wait to see Colin Powell make an appearance at the UN
to wave his trademark prop otherwise known as a test tube full of the deadliest poison/virus

you can see everyone deserting the building as they try to hang onto his every word

bet MBS must have made lots of enemies within his own kingdom after his accession to power

Posted by: chris m | Sep 16 2019 11:53 utc | 20

Posted by: doggydogdog | Sep 16 2019 11:26 utc | 13

According to UN Yemenis have drones with 1500km reach.

Posted by: Nick | Sep 16 2019 11:09 utc | 12

Houthis

By the end of 2012, Ansar Allah controlled almost all of Sa’ada province and large parts of the adjacent governorates of Amran, al-Jawf, and Hajjah, “the largest part of Upper Yemen’s Zaydi heartland” as Marieke Brandt noted in 2013.36 These moves were informed not only by the Houthi clan’s historic skill as tribal mediators but also by some organized intelligence collection either undertaken by the movement or seized from government records. One deep expert on Yemen told the author, “the Houthis arrived in districts with files on tribal networks and local structures.”37 As Brandt noted in 2013:

“The Huthi rebellion works through carefully developed plans and brilliant moves on the chessboard. They rely on alliances, both secret and openly visible … The Huthi strategy is based on a precise knowledge of the local tribes and on widespread social presence in their areas; they set up a tight network of checkpoints and patrol in the hamlets in operations that local sources describe as Huthi operations to feel the tribe’s pulse.”3
...
Though Ansar Allah gained control over some capable Yemeni engineers from 2014 onward, the Houthis’ smooth absorption of new missile systems suggest that Iranian training and technical assistance supported the missile campaign. First, there was no apparent learning curve that would suggest experimental deployment of entirely new rockets and missiles.ad Second, Ansar Allah did not rely upon the Saleh-era Missile Batteries Group for missile operations and quickly developed an independent capacityae to launch missiles, with one Yemeni military informant present in Houthi-controlled Yemen in 2014-2017 noting, “[the Houthis] didn’t trust us. The missiles were moved from Sana’a to Sa’ada early on. [The Houthis] were quickly self-sufficient and didn’t need the Republican Guard or missile forces.”


I would be careful calling someone "caveman" or you might get hit with a drone.
Yemen insists it was them. They probably were. Yemenis blend in in Saudi Arabia, Iranians don't.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 16 2019 11:54 utc | 21

No where near an expert, but taking a look on Google Maps, the orientation of the holes on the tanks looks like an attack from the wrong side (ie it looks more likely it came from inside Saudi Arabia). A drone attack from the Iraq or Bahrain side would have travelled further and hit on the other side.

Given the level of precision, I wonder if the attack was launched much more locally - some short distance home-made drone that would fly over the fence with a maximum distance of about a mile from waste land outside the plant. The specific targeting on focused targets instead of indiscriminate scattered destruction would also suggest someone familiar with the plant, and a shorter distance attack flown by hand from nearby would require much less sophisticated equipment.

The photos of the plumes of smoke are also confusing. One is from somewhere outside the plant. And a second at the Haradh gas plant that is appearing in the media, is some 140 miles away from Abqaiq.

The plant was attacked previously by Saudi Al Qaeda affiliates in 2006 so it is a target for internal Saudi terrorists as well as external countries.

Posted by: Tess Ting | Sep 16 2019 11:56 utc | 22

What about a spotter? Or a dude that works at refinery? Or shared intelligence reports? Or a Saudi who is tired of policy that might get his country destroyed? If amyone can get accurate photos of the plant and cross reference with accurate gps coordinates... Well, someone could probably get 'close' with a 'smart phone'...

Posted by: Josh | Sep 16 2019 11:59 utc | 23

Whoever benefits from higher oil prices and new contracts is likely to be behind these attracts, and that includes US. The only thing that does not work is the Houthis’ claim, and maybe it was somehow arranged.

Posted by: John | Sep 16 2019 12:03 utc | 24

Someone is faking facts. The provided Government / DigitalGlobe imagery is inconsistent with earlier satellite imagery of the smoke rising from a site about 2 km southeast of the alleged attack. The smoke did NOT rise from the shown separator facilities.
Why was my previous post about this deleted?

Posted by: MWL | Sep 16 2019 12:12 utc | 25

Ok, my post appeared again. For the time being, I would not trust any independently confirmed news, as appearently there are some spin doctors doing their dirty business.

Posted by: MWL | Sep 16 2019 12:15 utc | 26

"Saudi Arabia has no defenses against this kind of attacks. The U.S. has no system that could be used for that purpose."

Totally incomprehensible!

According to this article, the Iran has recently shot down the US drone using a system of mobile air defense rockets with a range of 105 km. It can hit targets in up to 25 km hight:

Die regimenahen Nachrichtenagenturen Tasnim und Fars berichten, die Revolutionswächter hätten die Drohne mit mobilen Luftabwehrraketen vom Typ "Dritter Khordad" vom Himmel geholt. Das System hat eine Reichweite von 105 Kilometern und kann Ziele bis in einer Höhe von mehr als 25 Kilometern treffen. Die unbewaffnete US-Drohne hat eine maximale Flughöhe von rund 19 Kilometern.

https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/iran-abschuss-einer-us-drohne-treibt-donald-trump-in-die-enge-a-1273423.html

Posted by: Andreas | Sep 16 2019 12:16 utc | 27

"Neither Iran nor medievil tribesmen from Yemen are conducting these operations. Everything is the product of Anglo-American Intelligence manipulation, of which you are a major purveyor.
M I 6 or M I 7?@14
The Jury is still out but my vote is for MI6 as the employer of this particular troll.
It could be the CIA though: the expiring imperialists are fixated on the idea that the only actors anywhere in the military world are themselves. Their world is crumbling but they persist in insisting that it is simply pretending to crumble, that every defeat is just part of the master plan. That the Empire still rules the world and is responsible for everything that happens in it.. No wonder they hate this site so fervently. And 'b's patient recording of the long decline of the old Empire. And the dawning of an new era of possibilities. An age in which Yemenis are recognised as real people with real human brains and capacities far beyond the uninspired thuggery of the stormtroopers of imperialism.

As for the question of whodunnit? To me it looks like an operation involving much in the way of industrial sabotage- not the Iranians but the workers, locals and, equally suspect, guestworkers, treated like shit and raring for revolution.

Posted by: bevin | Sep 16 2019 12:22 utc | 28

A drone is a kind of model aircraft. There are plenty of people dealing with this topic either as hobby or even sports. To build one which is able to fly under good weather conditions some 1000 km is nothing you will need modern technology for, built from wood and paper you got it even stealthy. There is also a lot of small combustion engines for that purpose available. Just integrate GPS and Controlling to drop what ever you want to drop. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit_of_Butts%27_Farm) As for radar detection, the objects are far to small and can fly very low. No chance to get them identified at this distance, bearing in mind the US forces "nearby". Tass informed, that the Russians will enhance the security of their oil facilities (https://tass.com/economy/1078237). So, no Pantsirs for sale in the days ahead.

Posted by: BG13 | Sep 16 2019 12:32 utc | 29

Somebody #3

US has been negotiating with the Houthis, right?
I think not. The Saudis were supposed to be, following a meeting in September 2018 in Ankara. The U.S. was not invited, but France and Germany had representatives there. As a result of being caught murdering Khashoggi, KSA was pressured to start talks, and also promised to stop financing and furnishing weapons and ammunition to insurrectionists in Syria. I think the meeting was reported on in a couple of posts by MoA, but don't know how to find stuff in the archives. I believe the Saudis stopped attending the meetings and probably have continued to supply the salafists in Syria. Perhaps this, along with other events in Yemen, will motivate them to return to negotiations

Posted by: Procopius | Sep 16 2019 12:37 utc | 30

Reading around the usual list of sites that offer a deeper look at events one gets the distinct opinion that the facts don-t fully fit the narrative. A few examples being:
* One of the largest global facilities of this type has yet to show any 24 hr security video footage.
* The target accuracy and consistency seems 1 or two generations in advance of rebel spec. to date.
* The small or zero splash of impacts suggest tanks were conveniently empty.
* Entire segments of whole upstream/downstream supply flows have been left intact, allowing for swift parallel recovery. Compare with Venezuela refinery explosions short weeks after Chavez switched supply from USA to China.
* "Who Gains From This?"1. indicate USA Frack & Canada Shale plus AMARCO IPO increased value.
* "WGFT?" 2. indicates Israeli/Saudi/USA Brazinski/Greater Israel/New USA Century etc doctrine ambitions.
* "WGFT?" 3. indicates China import losses from Iran/Saudi - which could push China to Venezuelan supply again playing into hands of beneficiaries wider ambitions.
* Timings around Israeli elections (possibly Jingoistic Boris in UK,) and run up to US 're-election of war president' and springtime ides of March all fit too conveniently for co-incidence.
* The Yemeni rebels are now open season - which again will benefit Saudi and it's western interests with the untapped reserves in the offshore Somali/Horn of Africa Basin, that will need to be piped somewhere with 'recently upgraded

* Sadly the Yemeni rebels and their families will now be even more in cross hairs, for swift achievement of KSA / MBS ownership of Yemini/Somali Basin oil streams.

The sooner we move to term limits for all public office positions the better, and roll it out like UK Jury service.

Sadly the one man who could properly present the behind the curtain playbook at work is stuck in Bellmarsh Prison, and not even Roger Waters could draw public attention to this. Media lockdown is moving to full spectrum. Take care b, and others x.
d out.

Posted by: dennis | Sep 16 2019 12:40 utc | 31

b, I appreciate your non-partisan analysis and intellectual honesty, but if the Houthis had detailed knowledge of the facility and precise GPS coordinates couldn't they have launched the attack?

1. The primary target was 100ft in diameter, well within the capability of a gps guided system.

2. The Houthis could have been fudging a bit about the '10 drones' to hide their capability and size of their attack.

3. The target is very, very stationary, getting the operational details of the plant isn't really that hard. If ARAMCO is going public those idiots probably published most of the details in their website. I've invested in Canadian oil sands before they were bought out by Suncor and if you go to 'investor info' they love to brag about their sophisticated infrastructure.

4. Now getting the precise GPS coordinates, yeah that would be harder, they would never publish that but you might be able to get that from google maps satellite view if you know exactly what you are looking for or they could have had help here from Iran or insider.

Posted by: Christian J Chuba | Sep 16 2019 12:44 utc | 32

As Condi Rice once said ( in 2006) :"theses are the birth pangs of the new ME". go figure | Sep 16 2019 11:39 utc

One of the milestones in the history of irony. Once the war was launched by the chicken hawks (i.e. people who evaded military experience in their past), an old maiden started to recommend birth pangs.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 16 2019 12:45 utc | 33

"Saudi Arabia has no defenses against this kind of attacks. The U.S. has no system that could be used for that purpose."

Totally incomprehensible!

According to this article, the Iran has recently shot down the US drone using a system of mobile air defense rockets with a range of 105 km. It can hit targets in up to 25 km hight:

---------------

The drone shot down by Iran was a spy/reconnesance drone, a large contraption flying very high, hence visible from a large distance.

A stealthy attack drone may fly at low speed and very close to the ground, hence not easily seen. Low speed helps in increasing the range and makes it easier to follow desert canyons, fly between dunes etc., but it can increase in the final minutes. Mind you, not all drones can be purchased in crafts section of large stores. If I recall, a drone with wings tiled with solar batteries can fly around the globe.

AWACS planes, in principle, should be able to monitor all movements on the ground and close to the ground from large distance, since they fly at high altitude. But a custom design of drone can confuse target detection, radar does not create an image but a spectrum of frequencies, and now you need to decide if you have a herd of gazelles, a hostile drone or something else. Perhaps the signal is matched to known hostile signatures -- big weapon systems designed long time ago may have blind spots when faced with new improvised weapons.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 16 2019 12:58 utc | 34

So the unmitigated tosh merchants are out in droves. Complete with the usual ignorant race-driven false assertions that "people who live in caves couldn't do that to us. Forgetting all the while that even their soldiers who have graduated high school are frequently illiterate & innumerate, and the so-called 'cavemen' they fight are responsible for many of the biggest breakthroughs in maths & science

Such people are remarkably ignorant or stupid - probably both, otherwise if they had been following the USuk sanctioned attacks on Yemen they would be aware of the lead up to this which is more than two years of Houthi fighters developing and perfecting their drones. With each attack and each iteration of their drones they have managed to extend their range and payload.
Take a look at some of the posts in the previous MoA thread on this, where the types and availability of mods which can extend range, increase navigation accuracy and increase blast with minimal increases in payload are discussed.
I strongly suspect that only one or two of these drones hit the refinery in the critical areas to cause this damage.

That certainly aligns with previous Houthi drone strikes where numerous drones are launched in quick succession, to enable some to get 'lucky' because despite having sufficient accuracy to get their projectiles into the refinery, accuracy isn't good enough to hit specific targets, so a big mob are sent since with something as potentially incendiary as an oil refinery only one or two have to hit an area that holds sufficient hydrocarbons to make a nice fireworks display.

Early on in the Houthi drone program, they tried hitting military bases and barracks, but the odds of a few kilos of H.E. hitting anything which could amplify the initial explosion were just too high, so refineries became the preferred target.

Lastly Houthi still have many lines of communication out of Yemen, if they were not behind this attack if it were the false flag that ignorant and stupid amerikans always allude to in their weak-arsed attempts to ignore reality, we would have heard about it. The Iranians would also know if this were a false flag, because unlike the thick as pigsh1t Saudi & american thugs, Iranians know how to make their tech work for them.

The stupid trolls spouting their exceptionalist tosh will be the first to cry, whine and plead "It wasn't me, we was lied to" to the agents of retribution gathering preparing and longing for the inevitable retribution.
Americans haven't won a bar fight in decades, they are buggered without air conditioned comfort -as soon as that breaks as it always does they wanna run home. Afghanistan a war they have been losing for 17+ years is the current classic example - whiny wimps.

Posted by: A User | Sep 16 2019 13:05 utc | 35

It wasn't the Houthis. We don't want to take on Iran. Lets bomb the hell out of the Yemenis.

Posted by: Michael Droy | Sep 16 2019 13:09 utc | 36

One more thing - all these whiny types who fail to understand that both the server and their html client plus in all likelihood the NSA 'helper' in the land of the brainwashed & home of the craven, has to refresh, before their confused posts can appear, are getting really tiresome. All it takes is a few minutes and the refresh dialog on their browser but expecting a seppo to be patient and not blame others for their own stupidity is a big ask I spose.

Posted by: A User | Sep 16 2019 13:12 utc | 37


M I 6 or M I - 7

One cannot blame your nonsenses on you , mr MI 6 or 7!!
B has never said that Iran neither the medieval Houthis did that: he has put on details that precisely seed doubts all over.

Second, the fact that the attack was too a high tech thing has nothing to do with Iran s capability or tools to keep his promises, namely to retaliate heavily on Saudi and american VITAL installations in the Middle East. Iran can effectively do it, and Iran won't do it simply because US and Ryad cannot in a million years take such an enormous risk. And the five or six other US ''allies'' in the region cannot either... (Only china and russia would pickup the dividends)
Last not least, 'sycophant' is your mommy fucking tool.


Posted by: augusto | Sep 16 2019 13:24 utc | 38

First let me thank you. This site has become my go to sanity sit for international affairs.

As to this matter, I always ask myself who wins. Iran or Iraq get no wins out it whatsoever. With Yemen, it continues their war. Aren't they beginning see the end of the war? Israel and the neocons are total winners here, epspecially their psychotic desire for war with Iran. But then I think, what about the Saudi royal family? Seems to me they get a blame free jump in oil prices. Winless wars are expensive.

Posted by: Marian | Sep 16 2019 13:37 utc | 39

This IS the response. Something to tell KSA and the rest of the world that attacking Yemeni hospitals and reservoirs is not acceptable and cannot be tolerated.

Posted by: Fly2Away | Sep 16 2019 13:46 utc | 40

I made a joke about Slaughter Bots in a thread at Zero Hedge, Then after a time i started to think it was not so crazy an idea...
I poured over the photos and... Well lets just say i have TONS of problems with the narrative so far... I don't consider the Slaughter bot thing a joke any longer... Perhaps the thinking is starting to APPLY turnabout in the path to resistance... They came out with a hype video to scare folks... then the resistance USES that narrative to custom design and build a working means of attack...

I may be wrong, but i don't think the fires are out on this one yet..... Drones are a viable means of attacking a power like this.... Once the thinking spreads, the success is coveted, then we might see some other clever adaptations of all the tech a resistance fighter has to use.

Posted by: Masher1 | Sep 16 2019 13:51 utc | 41

"Saudi Arabia has no defenses against this kind of attacks. The U.S. has no system that could be used for that purpose."

Totally incomprehensible!"

Posted by: Andreas | Sep 16 2019 12:16 ut

There was an answer there.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 16 2019 12:58 utc

But he missed one point.

Iran had targeted (and successfully downed) ONE single drone, at their choice.
There is no big doubt that KSA can done SOME ONE drone SOMEWHERE.
The question is about SWARM attack, and in a plact/time at the attacker's choice.

It is pretty possible that KSA did down a whole lotta attacking drones, if those really were drones, but what mattered was attack itself, not any drone specifically!
When people shoot at front lines during WW1 and WW2 - most bullets flew nowhere. Those were some rare bullets that actually hit men.
But, the total number of bullets shot was so high, that those "few of many" led to dozens of millions of deaths.

To defeat "swarm of drones" attack, if those were drones, again, KSA would not need capability to destroy one single USA drone in well-predictable place and on their timing, KSA would need capability to destroy how ever many drones sent at them - all or allmost all of them! - and in the time and the place of drone master choice.

Posted by: Arioch | Sep 16 2019 14:04 utc | 42

Is this the US "Suez Moment"?

This seems to be a very well calibrated attack by the Houthis/Iranians.

Saudi oil production down for weeks and they only have 5 weeks of reserves to continue normal output.

Expect another similar attack after the Saudis have exhausted their reserves and before production gets back to normal. The target will be to keep Saudi output at just the level to make Iranian oil necessary. Plus the attacks will be sufficiently low key so as not to give an excuse for massive retalliation.

Posted by: jiri | Sep 16 2019 14:08 utc | 43

Posted by: Marian | Sep 16 2019 13:37 utc | 39

Hardly any analyst is paid for talking about how KSA is doing internally.

According to the "Death penalty project"

There has been an alarming rise in state executions in Saudi Arabia with over 130 persons executed this year already and at least 24 at imminent risk of execution, including prominent political opponents, clerics, and human rights defenders

It is far from certain "the West" will support Saudi Arabia without conditions.

Today, on 12 September 2019, a side-event to the 42nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council was held which addressed the alarming rise in state executions in Saudi Arabia. It highlighted the illegal and arbitrary executions taking place in Saudi Arabia and the human rights abuses surrounding the death penalty for both detainees and their families.

The event was hosted by The Death Penalty Project, and was held at the United Nations Palais des Nations.

The panel included contributions from 1) Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Doughty Street Chambers, London; and 2) Abdullah Al Odah, Senior Fellow at the Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, and part-time Faculty at the Elliott School, at George Washington University and son of death row prisoner in Saudi Arabia, Salman Al Odah.

Speaking at the event, were the following panelists: 1) Baroness Janet Whitaker, UK All Party Parliamentary Group on the Abolition of the Death Penalty; 2) Saul Lehrfreund, Co-Executive Director, The Death Penalty Project; 3) Rodney Dixon QC, Temple Garden Chambers, London; and 4) Juliet Wells, Temple Garden Chambers, London.


Posted by: somebody | Sep 16 2019 14:14 utc | 44

Thanks again for a detailed bs free analysis.

Google Maps have a high resolution scan of the plant in Abqaiq, 30 minutes with a refinery engineer and even i could work out where to send those drones.

One can safely assume IRGC has long had detailed plans on where to hit such facilities, and finally acted accordingly. How radars were evaded i have no clue.

As for designing a rudimentary automated guidance system, it wouldn't take a computer genius to design some custom based tracking/guidance software that matches aerial photography and live camera data and directs drones to a predetermined position. GPS guidance could get them there, and then the software could guide them to a specific spot. Either that, or someone on the ground took over once the drones were within range perhaps as B suggests.

Either way, this is a major turning point, will be interested to see what responses are decided upon. Something tells me retreat will not be one of them. Perhaps it's time an Iranian tanker runs into an 'accident' somewhere far from Iran's coastline, it would seem to be the safest bet to avoid escalation and maintain some sort of anonymity and speculation as to who did it exactly.

Posted by: EtTuBrute | Sep 16 2019 14:21 utc | 45

re MWL 19 (plume rising near but not at facility in B's pix)

Google Maps/Earth at hi mag shows a pipeline running from the Buqaiq plant SSE to a blank square in the desert, which looks like the source of the plume in the picture from Fox that you linked. I'd guess that blank square space is underground storage, and that the "spigot" was hit. So, it's not really a separate attack, just another (smart) detail of the targeting.

Posted by: elkern | Sep 16 2019 14:23 utc | 46

trump brags we don't need Saudi oil! so who gains by the semi- false flag? what's the end game? it's suicide for america to be drawn in to this?

Posted by: ragnar12 | Sep 16 2019 14:32 utc | 47

Re: Posted by: A User | Sep 16 2019 13:12 utc | 37

Ha. Seppo? Where are you from mate? Let me guess - the Democratic Socialist Republic of Fitzroy?

Posted by: Julian | Sep 16 2019 14:37 utc | 48

I think this attack warrants some skepticism.

Wombat @1 and dan of steele @2 rightly point out that warmongers in USA-Israel-Saudi would relish an opportunity to 'take on' Iran sooner rather than later.

dennis @31 points out some difficulties with the narratives.

The most glaring, and as yet unexplained, facts are these:

>> failure to anticipate such an attack;

>> the precision of targeting.


In addition, we should be mindful that this attack is the latest in a series of unexplained attacks. There were mysterious attacks on tankers (which USA quickly blamed on Iran) and then Iraq warehouses (which some also tried to blame Iran but Israel eventually took credit for).

In addition to the these mysterious attacks, which Iran was fingered for, there have been clear attempts at false flags: 1) Israel's Christmas attack on Damascus airport (see below for more about this) and 2) the Spy plane - drone combination that resulted in Iran's downing of the drone (not enough to go to war over).

Timing of recent events is also suspicious:

No Parliament in UK
Parliament was not helpful to the warmongers when they wanted to bomb Syria in 2013, now it has been suspended leaving BoJo free to take important decisions and play the modern Winston Churchill (BoJo's hero);

Eve of Israeli elections
Sith Lord Netanyahu gets the crucial boost he needs to win election.

Bolton resigns/dismissed a few days before
- Trump displays his peaceful intentions
- Neocons crow: this is what happens when you show weakness!

ARAMACO IPO
News that the massive IPO might be restarted appeared in early July but it wasn't until August 9th that it was confirmed. This, despite the lack of any real solutions to the problems that caused the Saudis to shelve the IPO(!) But the dashed IPO plans magnify the butt-hurt and serve to shield MbS from suspicion that the Saudis had a hand in the destruction of their main oil facility to achieve a more important goal: convincing the Western public that war with Iran is a "just war".

UN General Assembly
As noted above, UN General Assembly will soon start. The timing of the attack is a bit inconvenient for Iran - but maybe very convenient for Houthis that want to draw attention to their plight.


<> <> <> <> <> <>

Bolton's resignation/dismissal prior to a false flag?

We saw this exact scenario play out in December 2018 when Defense Secretary Mattis resigned because Trump insisted that he would leave Syria. Trump was lauded for his determination to "follow his instincts" and 'America First' campaign promises. But, days later on Christmas Eve, the Israeli's attacked Damascus airport in what appears to have been an attempt to get the SAA to down a civilian airliner. This was essentially an attempt to repeat the SAA mistaken downing of a Russia military plane weeks before.

If the SAA had downed a civilian airliner with many Christians flying to holiday celebrations with their families, it is highly likely that Trump would be forced FORCED! to respond with massive military action: bombing Syria, sending more troops, etc.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 16 2019 14:38 utc | 49

special forces (stt , shaldag )trained in laser guidance operating in the plants.

Posted by: ragnar12 | Sep 16 2019 14:38 utc | 50

Living in the world of PNAC, this attack should be considered a "False Flag" until proven otherwise.

Posted by: Enrico Malatesta | Sep 16 2019 14:39 utc | 51

This attack, these attacks, these Houthis, after pondering a while, lead me to think of these two writings:

Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb

Well, a drone bomb is not much of a step from a car bomb, is it? And IED is just a car bomb that sits and waits. So this has been around for a long time and is to be expected. Sticks of dynamite would make handy missiles too back in the day.

We've come a long way from that today. The ability to make a big violent mess is very democratically distributed today, all over the planet thanks to globalization.

The Unconquerable World by Jonathan Schell

"This book mounts perhaps the most impressive argument ever made that there exists a viable and desirable alternative to the continued reliance on war." -The New York Times

At times of global crisis, Jonathan Schell's writings have offered important alternatives to conventional thinking. Now, as conflict escalates around the world, Schell gives us an impassioned, provocative book that points the way out of the unparalleled devastation of the twentieth century toward another, more peaceful path.

Tracing the expansion of violence to its culmination in nuclear stalemate, Schell uncovers a simultaneous but little-noted history of nonviolent action at every level of political life. His investigation ranges from the revolutions of America, France, and Russia, to the people's wars of China and Vietnam, to the great nonviolent events of modern times-including Gandhi's independence movement in India and the explosion of civic activity that brought about the surprising collapse of the Soviet Union.

Suggesting foundations of an entirely new kind on which to construct an enduring peace, The Unconquerable World is a bold book of sweeping significance.

Posted by: bemildred | Sep 16 2019 14:44 utc | 52

@ Posted by: M I 6 or M I 7? | Sep 16 2019 11:36 utc | 14

We will soon be able to test your hypothesis.

If the USA + allies begin a hot war against Iran and restart the siege against Yemen, then you'll be correct. If they do a deal with Iran and Yemen, then you'll be wrong.

Posted by: vk | Sep 16 2019 14:46 utc | 53

Re: elkern@46:

The four tanks allegedly hit seem fully intact on the top edge of this image:
https://static01.nyt.com/images/2019/09/15/world/15iran/merlin_160801668_bb0a88aa-734d-43a2-afe8-53010924667a-jumbo.jpg?quality=90&auto=webp

Posted by: MWL | Sep 16 2019 14:50 utc | 54

Trump tweets (yesterday): Hey MbS, we're "locked and loaded", who should we attack?

Saudi Response: Iranian Weapons Used To Attack Oil Sites

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 16 2019 14:53 utc | 55

ragnar12 @50:

special forces (stt , shaldag )trained in laser guidance operating in the plants.

Even better: small drones that 'paint' the targets with lasers or attach a beacon of some kind.

The drone operators could operate outside the plant. Probably several miles away.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 16 2019 15:12 utc | 56

It's likely the Houthis carried out an attack of some sort that night and were led to believe was successful (beyond their dreams) and felt worthy to take credit...

It's also likely that advanced targeting software -and possibly on the ground back-up Special Forces & laser/panasonic toughbooks ensured that near identical entry points (angle and position) were achieved on a series of storage tanks - suggesting a high altitude synchronised release. None of the tanks exploded in a Venezuelan fireball suggests they may have been emptied and flushed just prior.

That small Rus. Syrian airbases can routinely defend themselves from Drone attack, but producer of 5% of Global oil supply cannot whilst hosting some of USA's Blue water fleet, says bad things about competency.

My real supposition is that air defences were handed over to 'Dick Cheney' in the 24 hours before event for a 'training exercise' .

I'd be looking carefully at a close family relation to these bits of kit:

https://i.dailymail.co.uk/1s/2019/05/10/11/13335344-7012355-image-a-30_1557484563237.jpg

Posted by: dennis | Sep 16 2019 15:17 utc | 57

Israel Wot Did It?

The Strange Case of the Burning Saudi Refineries by Gordon Duff

https://journal-neo.org/2019/09/16/the-strange-case-of-the-burning-saudi-refineries/

Time is now closing in. Did Israel bomb Saudi Arabia? Will Israel’s remaining “man in Washington,” Mike Pompeo get the war Israel is asking for, a war where Israel will be destroyed as well?


Hmmm... I suppose it's more than possible. Another flase flag.

Posted by: Barovsky | Sep 16 2019 15:21 utc | 58

The psychopath Apartheid state Israel.
Israeli spies around the White House.
How Zionist Israel is Robbing America Blind!.

Posted by: bjd | Sep 16 2019 15:22 utc | 59

The second picture posted by b, with the direction from nearby countries:
https://gifyu.com/image/hofq
Note that I am not sure about the source, and of course drones and even cruise missile can turn. But at the least, this puts in question the US claim that this could not be an attack from Yemen.

Posted by: fx | Sep 16 2019 15:23 utc | 60

What has been missed by everyone, is the fact that there were no human casualty.

This shows a well planned attack in compliance with religious directive of Ayatollah Khamenei. Which means, the drones were controlled by special forces on the ground near the target area.

Therefore, we should now assume that a large contingency of Quds forces are on the ground in Saudi Arabia. Keep in mind, Quds force recruits are most likely Saudi Citizen of Yemeni origin or Shiite Saudis. I have eyewitness accounts regarding a large group of Yemeni special forces being trained near holly city of Mashhad in eastern Iran.

Iran is ready to demolish Saudi Arabia in case of a military conflict. If a military conflict occurs, you would see spontaneous uprising by Shiites, Saudis of Yemeni origin and non-Wahabi Saudi citizens. Simultaneously, ISIS affiliated Wahabi groups will seize the opportunity to establish its dream Khalifate in the holly cities of Mecca and Medina.

In 2011 I warned Startfor analysts that their analysis should focus on destabilization of Saudi Arabia by Iran through Yemen. This prediction was part of my strategic forecasting about counter measures by Iran in response to Saudi involvement in Syria.

I conveyed this analysis to the highest Iranian authorities, and from their reaction I deduced they are considering it.


I 2016, I wrote to President Trump, urging him to normalize relations with Iran and stop supporting Saudi Arabia. Obviously he did not listen.


Now I am letting everyone know that Saudi ruling family's days are numbered.

The only thing that will save them, is a complete removal of Iran sanctions by the USA. Short of this, Iran will topple Saudi monarchy either through a gradual process via a soft regime change or a hard dismemberment of Saudi Arabia in case of a war.

Posted by: Japeh Youssefi | Sep 16 2019 15:31 utc | 61

https://twitter.com/_cryptome_/status/1173341940835901441

Quote:
"Repeat: None of the images of the Saudi drone attacks show fire and smoke of the Abqaiq main oil processing plant, only nearby open pits burning. Seems to be orchestrated claim of production loss to boost Aramco IPO, Pompeo cycling the disinfo, blaming Iran, to entice investors.
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EEiMQymXUAI2RTr.jpg "
.
.
Article with photos
https://cybershafarat.com/2019/09/14/saudiuav/

Posted by: anon | Sep 16 2019 15:32 utc | 62

And here the damage at Khurais:
https://twitter.com/AuroraIntel/status/1173337395342786562

Posted by: fx | Sep 16 2019 15:36 utc | 63

Barovsky @58: Well Duff does have a vigorous imagination, like Magnier, an unreliable narrator, but he makes good points about whom these attacks might serve right now, and why. I see a lot of opinion that this could not be the Houthis, and I accept that they must be getting some outside inputs, like those little jet engines other posters were discussing, but I think we need more time and information to say it wasn't the Houthis show. It does seem like it serves the Houthis purposes too. That said, a false flag by Bibi or MbS and their friends has appealing explanatory value for some of the claimed inconsistencies in what happened. I expect we are about to be deluged with bullshit about it, so we may never get to know for sure.

Posted by: Bemildred | Sep 16 2019 15:44 utc | 64

There is a lot of talk about how the US can be axpected to react if either the Houthies or Iran should be behind the attack as if there has been an attack on the US. As this is clearly not the case it should be a given that this is a Saudi issue and as the military spending of the Saudies is the third largest in the world after the US and China you would expect that they were fully capabel of doing just that.

If they really should see it necessary to ask for American help it would be a humiliation without precedent to the Saudi leadership so it seems to me that the only good solution for the Saudies would be to find a political solution to the mess in Yemen and declare this to be a victory.

Posted by: Sven Lystbæk | Sep 16 2019 15:45 utc | 65

Personally I don't give a rats arse who did the attack, the Saudis have been murdering Yemenis for years now with high tech help from the US, the UK and probably others. The Saudis have definitely got it coming and if some outside agency has helped them develop their tech they deserve congratulation not condemnation.

Posted by: MarkU | Sep 16 2019 15:48 utc | 66

Google search "GPS drone" and hundreds of market examples appear.
These are civilian grade. Buying a $5000 surveyor grade GPS drone is also possible.
It doesn't seem to me that attacks on large, stationary targets is in any way a technological miracle these days. Yes, range is an issue as is control feedback, but that's exactly what testing is for - and there's been a lot of in-field testing in Yemen, Iraq and Syria.
As for targeting: all it takes is one disaffected employee with a GPS and a laser range finder.

Posted by: c1ue | Sep 16 2019 15:55 utc | 67

Houthi's are responsible and do not tend to lie or exaggerate. The UN has documented their drone capabilities exceeding the distance which these are claimed to have traveled. That being said, I've often pondered how easy it would be to spread out the Yemeni Air Force's vast cache of weaponry in areas inside SA. We've all seen the videos of a desolate sandy desert and mountainous landscape, with rectangles of ground suddenly lifting up to expose Houthi's underground launchers and missile pads. The desert and border is open and there is no reason not to place launchers and staging areas within SA itself, it seems easily possible and beneficial to the Houthi cause. SA and allies know this too, they're probably trying to keep this info from reaching ears of the clown price as he'd likely begin a campaign against the shia areas of SA and once he starts rounding people up, the next step is air strikes, the third step is retaliation from those being persecuted, and after step 3 occurs, the situation is officially a "civil war".

Posted by: NJH | Sep 16 2019 16:01 utc | 68

The Houthis emphasised the dependency of the attack on local supporters, and it would be logical to assume that they had a few local Shias set up laser pointers marking a target on the tanks. Perhaps there is suitable topography to the west of the site which provides cover for the local supporters to operate from and point their laser pointers from (would need to be mounted of course, not hand-held). A small 10mW laser would go several kilometers, and should be sufficient target for the drones. Someone could try and check on google maps if there is such cover a short distance to the West of the site. Obviously the possibility that the drones were launched from the same area close to the site cannot be ruled out, although the UN has already described Houthi drones with ranges adequate to reach the site from Yemen.

Posted by: BM | Sep 16 2019 16:06 utc | 69

Just wondering how soon Western "experts" will find a “Russian trace” in this whole story.

Posted by: alaff | Sep 16 2019 16:08 utc | 70

from apnews:

Houthi leader Muhammad al-Bukhaiti reiterated his group’s claim of responsibility, telling The Associated Press it exploited “vulnerabilities” in Saudi air defenses to strike the targets. He did not elaborate.

Iran, meanwhile, kept up its own threats[sic]. Hajizadeh, the brigadier general who leads the country’s aerospace program, said in an interview published across Iranian media Sunday that Revolutionary Guard forces were ready for a counterattack if America responded, naming the Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar and Al-Dhafra Air Base near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates as immediate targets, as well as U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 16 2019 16:11 utc | 71

There is no ready evidence that missiles and/or drones came from Iran, as desired, so the Pentagon is attempting to gin up some "evidence" that Iran did it. memories....
Salon, Jun 3, 2019 :

Last week a senior Pentagon official accused Iran of having sabotaged four oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on May 12 and of firing a rocket into Baghdad’s Green Zone on May 19. Iran executed these events, he said, either directly or through regional “proxies.”
But instead of creating sensational headlines, the briefing by Vice Adm. Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff, was a flop, because it was clear to reporters covering it that he could not cite a single fact to back it up. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 16 2019 16:12 utc | 72

It's cheap and easy to make a quad drone that can carry a payload of 10-20 pounds.. even 50 lbs. enough for a hefty explosive charge. I'm not saying that the houthis used that method, but it's certainly doable, and it can be as precise as you want it to be, provided that it can maintain contact with GPS or bind-n-fly.

Posted by: aaaa | Sep 16 2019 16:13 utc | 73

@61 UK and USA are dead-set on maintaining the status quo, so I don't expect anything positive to come out of this attack. I think there needs to be a big conference to settle the affairs of the middle east - it's vital to the survival of modern civilization

Posted by: aaaa | Sep 16 2019 16:29 utc | 74

1. The Saudi/US air defences are exposed as feeble. They have really been shown up and a lot of powers will be drawing conclusions.
2. The skill of the attackers is very impressive. Far beyond what had been attributed to either Houthi or Iranian military. So, the US blowhards look stupid and weak.
3. There probably more where that came from.
4. If Iraq was the point of origin then the message to the US is go wet yourselves.
5. If the US attacks Iran the result will be nobody will be shipping any oil out of region anytimes soon. And the results may crash the markets which would be hubris for the US.

So, go knock your 'locked and loaded' self out.

Posted by: Robert McMaster | Sep 16 2019 16:31 utc | 75

The USA and Saudi Arabia have been trying to starve the Houthis into submission for 4 years. It hasn't worked but I guess unless you are willing to put boots on the ground what more can they do? What people in this thread don't understand is the ability of humans to compensate. Before the IMF screwed up their economy Yemen was largely self sustaining. As difficult as it has been the Yemen people are returning to that point. They don't have a choice after all. People also have an over inflated sense of American power and what it can accomplish. The US was not able to dictate the outcome in Iraq to their liking after 29 years of war. The US has not been able to dictate the outcome in Afghanistan to their liking after 18 years of war. And this was with boots on the ground in booth countries. As much as Americans want to see themselves as all knowing and all powerful the Afghans, Iraqis, and Yemeni have their own ideas about how to live and how they want to live and who they will take direction from. People find a way. Especially when they are hungry and threatened. As uneducated as a person from Afghanistan is... they studied US actions in Afghanistan. The Taliban understood what the US was trying to do with their COIN doctrine. The Taliban copied COIN. The Taliban have people throughout all levels of the US backed government in Afghanistan. That is one of the reasons the US wants to sue for peace. The Taliban was able to implement COIN way more effectively than the US. They speak the language. They know the culture. The US just has more firepower and is seen as an invader and outsider. That war is lost. The US can only stay because they have more firepower. The longer the US stays the less influence it has in how the country is run. The US can not win that war. It is lost. All they can do is stay and look out upon their failure. Hell.. maybe the US should stay. It can serve as an in your face warning to future idiotic plans.

Posted by: goldhoarder | Sep 16 2019 16:41 utc | 76

Mark Thomason 10:37 utc | 7
I agree. This came from inside the Saudi desert. Possibly done by Houthies. But chances are that Pompeos version will prevail. So it will be clear that the firing of Bolton came too late. Damage is already done. Everybody involved talked too much. Tronald will have a very hard time not to react militarily. Even the dems will push. He is now the prisoner of his own words (and stupidity).

Posted by: Pnyx | Sep 16 2019 16:42 utc | 77

Impressive! And just look at all the rats it drove out to yap at MoA!

As I wrote late last night, the Houthis have overturned the table and its chessboard, tossed the chairs aside, and have produced a whole new dimension for the region's conflict--Driving the al-Sauds from power. Culturally, there's a multigenerational revenge aspect that's meant to atone for an earlier action that's spread across the Arabian world into the Caucus that's very underappreciated by those in the West. The grievances Houthis have for Sauds go back centuries to the point where they could never be amicable friends, and current events have merely served to escalate those old wounds. The long oppressed Arabian Shia would be natural allies in mounting a concerted vendetta, and it's the Shia that populate the oil region, many working at its facilities. Please, examine what's happened over the last 5 years to both Houthi and Shia, and then the previous 150, and then remember or discover why the British chose the Sauds as their allies against the Turk in WW1.

Why did Pompeo cry about it being the Iranian Wolf when the Houthi had already conducted numerous assaults on Saudi oil facilities and Riyadh itself as he didn't fool the NY Times writers I cited last night who for once were truthful. As I explained to my partner, ever since the UAE withdrew and began talks with Iran, Houthi capability rapidly increased as did its drone swarm and ballistic missile attacks--check the temporal connection out as it's quite remarkable: Surely, I'm not the only one to notice. Now, take a moment to think about the regional relations between all the actors with the Sauds--they're hated by everyone, even by the Zionists despite the current my enemy's your enemy relationship. If the Sauds and their extremist Islam were to be ousted, not a tear would be shed by anyone in the region. The only real question: How much effort will the Outlaw US Empire put into keeping the Sauds in power?

Not a peep's being mentioned about any of the above because that context can't be acknowledged for the Imperial Narrative to continue. It's not at all outside-the-box or off-the-wall as it's the actual context that cannot be mentioned lest it be admitted that the Sauds were always thieves and Islamic Outlaws hated by all other Arabian Tribes. MbS has shown little evolution over the past 100 years as his actions prove beyond doubt. Would the Houthis drive up the West coast of Arabia and capture Mecca and Medina if they could in concert with a mass Shia uprising in the Eastern oil belt? Does that really seem far-fetched? The Sauds can't fight worth a damn, which is why they rely on Mercs. And there's the unmentioned strife within the clans caused by MbS undermining unity while promoting motives for revenge.

Sure, the Houthis did the deed. They're far more capable and sophisticated than most know. If they'd had a decent air force, the war situation would be quite different. But--Guess what!?--now they do have an air force, and the Sauds are in deep shit!

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 16 2019 16:49 utc | 78

I also find it interesting that as one of the most monitored spots in the world with AWACS flying platforms for many countries up, Surface radar looking for objects (patriot batteries, air traffic control radars, etc) Ship radars, Satellites, etc that none of this was caught for review and inspection by others. When "crimes" like this happen (and of course it couldn't have a better victim than Saudia Barbaria) you look at the culprit who had the motive, the means, and the most to gain from committing the act. That includes a lot of people but leaves out Iran. Iran knew if something like this happened it would be blamed just like after 9/11 Afghanistan was attacked. We attacked Iraq when Israhel and Saudia Barbaria should have been targeted but I digress.

The long and short of it as many people eluded is that the prime suspects are Israhell and those that confessed to the crime "the Houthis". It is like a game of clue: Colonel Mustard, with the pipe, in the drawing room did it. Case closed.

Posted by: Tonymike | Sep 16 2019 16:53 utc | 79

re: the Aramco IPO -

I remember reading that the previous effort was ‘withdrawn’ when the big investors wanted to examine the Saudi wells to confirm that there was actually enough oil left and their investments were worthwhile. The inspections were denied and the IPO put on hold.

Has this been resolved? Is the IPO really that much of a factor if the Saudis are still not allowing inspections?

Posted by: NotBob | Sep 16 2019 16:57 utc | 80

@ Posted by: M I 6 or M I 7? | Sep 16 2019 11:36 utc | 14

It seems to me that B has track record which lends him credibility (though I have reservations about his conclusion).
As compared for example to western "intelligence" services - record of failure.

I don't think this attack or it's timing are optimum for Iran.
More like someone might do this while Rouhani making progress.

There are others who benefit more from this.

A point where I disagree with B:
He suggests the US dare not attack Iran.
But the US is control by others - does not act in the interest of it's population.

Posted by: jared | Sep 16 2019 17:13 utc | 81

thanks b... excellent overview which we all appreciate...

it seems a number of new posters have appeared.. wait until late october for the next fireworks to start..

maybe folks could ignore the troll? -M I 6 or M I 7?

Posted by: james | Sep 16 2019 17:16 utc | 82

Aramco planned to go public last year. It would have put 5% of the company up for sale in what might have been the largest initial public offering ever.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 16 2019 17:17 utc | 83

Not Bob @80:

Is the IPO really that much of a factor if the Saudis are still not allowing inspections?

The IPO was put on hold earlier this year. In July there were rumors that the Saudis might restart IPO efforts. On or about August 9th came the first confirmations of those rumors.

But AFAIK the problems with the IPO were never really addressed. And oil price levels mean that the Saudis wouldn't get the valuation that they wanted. So why restart?

Well, I can't say that the new IPO plans aren't genuine, but having the IPO out there just before a major attack is suspicious in that it conveniently squashes thoughts about Saudi involvement in a false-flag.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 16 2019 17:18 utc | 84

NotBob @80--

The Saudis have yet to refute any of the accusations leveled against the condition of their oil resources made by the late Matt Simmons in his Twilight in the Dessert which formed the basis for the IPO related inspections. IMO, it's the height of absurdity for the Saudis to spend many $$Billions on weaponry but totally neglect to defend their primary assets--oil and production facilities. As I wrote late last night, I expect Houthis to repeat their attack several more times as the targets are as soft as butter. And it's entirely possible the Sauds won't be in possession of those facilities if an IPO is ever mounted.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 16 2019 17:22 utc | 85

Posted by: dan of steele | Sep 16 2019 10:08 utc | 2

The US is as usual in ME, on the wrong side of this. And Saudi Arabia starting a war with Yemen puts them on the wrong side of this. With US help, they have bombed one of the poorest countries on earth to the stone age, and are still going to get their asses handed to them. And if the US gas prices climb to 8 dollars a gallon, and end up with no fresh water from fracking, then the asshats running the country might finally get what is coming to them. Which is to lose everything they have stolen, and still not be safe wherever they shut their eyes.

Posted by: Tom in AZ | Sep 16 2019 17:33 utc | 86

I think Trump is bloviating ultimately. His reelection matters more than anything else (or that's my gut feeling which is rarely wrong). But there is a risk that shouldn't be dismissed either.

Posted by: Jonathan Gillispie | Sep 16 2019 17:35 utc | 87

Oh, I'm sure that, in the world's greatest democracy, the president won't be projecting military power on another country all by himself. /s

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 16 2019 17:48 utc | 88

Saudi military said:

"The attack was made by iranian weapons" and "did not originated in Yemen", and I think both sentences are right at the same time, but also you cannot conclude (as Pompeo did) that the attack come from Iran; as I commented yesterday, the attack come from inside KSA, and there are many reasons to believe this, and one of them is that not ALL the radars and detection installation of many US and KSA installation all fails to detect a swarm of drones flying 1500 Km, big enough to make this destruction and achieving this stunning pinpoint precision from so far away

Yes, they were iranian weapons, and yes they were used by shia people inside KSA that knew perfectly well how to inflict more damages; and yes the risk for more attacks is not low, Ras Tanura is the biggest prey of all, you can destroy the KSA and damage the world economy in a similar attack

On the other hand after the security agreements bewteen KSA and US in 1975, that bring the dawn of the petrodollar and the dollar as a fiat currency with intrinsic value based on the global oil production, the US is obligated to protect KSA as was the case with Saddam and to save the face, for what reason the US has a complete fleet in the Persian Gulf (the 5th)?

It is time for the US to fullfill its commitments as Custodian of the Sacred Oil Places and as bodyguard of the one thousand saudi princes

Posted by: DFC | Sep 16 2019 17:54 utc | 89

@ 49 Jackrabbit

Will this attack really benefit Netanyahu's election chances? Maybe I just don't understand the Israeli electorate but I'm not sure most Israeli Jews would automatically assume this attack was "good for Israel", or that it really makes Netanyahu look good. If I were Israeli I think I'd be scared this attack might not be a secret Mossad operation, because if it was really launched from Iran or Yemen, that shows a frightening degree of military competence in Muslim hands. And even if I were somehow absolutely sure that this really was an Israeli false flag, I don't think I'd like the thought that Netanyahu had risked destroying Israel's cooperative relationship with the Saudi's just to win an election and keep himself out of prison.

Posted by: Glenn | Sep 16 2019 17:57 utc | 90

China's Global Times editorial over Pompeo's evidence-free accusations of Iran is a must read for its directness in telling him to shut up in so many words:

"Pompeo had provided no evidence. The world needs order, and should not encourage a superpower's secretary of state to declare a country guilty so easily." [My Emphasis]

The writer turns the "reasoning" Pompeo relies upon on its head:

"Iran has maintained good ties with Yemen's Houthi rebels. But this does not mean Iran is the country that launched the drone attacks. The US has been supporting Israel, then should the Arab people blame the US for everything that Israel has done to them?" [My Empasis]

China rightly points out the actual instigator of the current tensions:

"The US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, which led to a serious escalation in US-Iran disputes. Also in 2018, the US relocated its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, completely abandoning its role as a mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Washington is becoming a negative force that escalates and even creates disputes in the Middle East." [My Emphasis]

The editorial concludes by allowing Trump some wriggle-room:

"Trump wants to be a president who can reinvigorate the American economy. It's widely believed he has no interest in wars. But certain forces in the US are pushing Washington to use military power. It's hoped they can be restrained instead of being allowed to dictate the US."

Of course, Trump's words are cited--"There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification"--but the Outlaw US Empire's been bombing Houthis via its Saudi vassal for 4 years, so IMO Trump's words are empty, an assessment shared by the writer:

"Noticeably, the president spoke in a milder tone than Pompeo on the attacks."

I'd be remiss not to note the op/ed that follows after the above editorial, "Washington not world’s ‘beacon of democracy’", which is rightfully highly critical and could easily be book-length but is quite short. This point ought to stand for quite a long time:

"Today's US is no longer qualified to proclaim itself the beacon of democracy. In the name of democracy and progress, the country has mostly proved its capacity to make wars. When former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton tweeted, 'May we all stand in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong as they speak out for democracy, freedom,' a foreign netizen responded, 'No. The last time you stood with others, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen... all of them burned to the ground.'"

Of course, the only way you'll learn of such critiques is to go to Global Times or catch them when cited here at MoA as we all work to destroy the Imperial Narrative of the Outlaw US Empire and eradicate the disease of American Exceptionalism while extinguishing the totally unearned and immoral American Privilege.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 16 2019 18:04 utc | 91

The U.S. and Israel are able to commit such attacks. Iran probably too. Yemen seems unlikely to have this capability without drawing on extensive support from elsewhere. The planing for this operation must have taken months.

Perhaps 'extensive support' arose from the Necon think tank CSIS.
Vulnerable KSA Infrastructure

Posted by: david hogg | Sep 16 2019 18:11 utc | 92

BigLIe Media at work:

"Wait. All morning it was 'the drones were launched from Iraqi territory according to senior officials.' Now that Baghdad has officially denied this, you're quoting the same vested parties who've switch the point of origin to Iran? Spare us."

A few understand the gravity of the situation:

"Kuwaiti lawyer: Iran sneezed and shut down half of Saudi's oil supply. How are you going to go to war with them? Don't believe Trump. If war breaks out the Arabs will lose all their oil and we will go back to being Bedouins."

And we shouldn't forget the level of Saudi credibility:

"Also Saudi Arabia: Khashoggi left our embassy through the back door. We don't know his whereabouts."

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 16 2019 18:28 utc | 93

@TulsiGabbard
“Trump awaits instructions from his Saudi masters. Having our country act as Saudi Arabia's bitch is not "America First."

@realDonaldTrump
“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!

Posted by: Stever | Sep 16 2019 18:42 utc | 94

The financial pundits at DW News have persuaded each other that this was a publicity stunt arranged by the Saudis to maximise Aramco's share value. It wouldn't be the first time the market for oil/mining shares has has been pre-tweaked.
I don't know what passes for humour in Saudi Barbaria but a highly publicised $10 million 'loss' in exchange for an extra $100 million 'profit' sounds excruciatingly amusing, to me.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 16 2019 18:42 utc | 95

@95 Hoarsewhisperer

How does this stunt increase the share value?

Posted by: Norwegian | Sep 16 2019 18:48 utc | 96

From what I remember reading Martin van Creveld's The Transformation of War, Creveld predicted that the whole MIC would come crumbling down like a stack of cards when it was expose that most of these weapons are useless against fourth generation opponents. It's fascinating reading about the Houthis exposing the uselessness of American weaponry. The world must be watching and there Will probably other actors in other theatres who Will use similar tactics and weapons.

Posted by: Just someone | Sep 16 2019 18:53 utc | 97

For a few, this is LOL! Cunningham tells us Why Iran:

"The reason for the finger-pointing is simple: Washington’s spectacular failure to protect its Saudi ally."

I wrote above about the remarkable temporal relationship to UAE's withdrawal and Houthi attack escalation. In his op/ed, Cunningham provides this link to a timeline of most but not all Houthi attacks on Saudi targets which bolsters the NY Times expressed skepticism which critiqued the "directional evidence" pundits were citing:

"The satellite photographs released on Sunday did not appear as clear cut as officials suggested, with some appearing to show damage on the western side of facilities, not from the direction of Iran or Iraq."

Wow! Two straight articles from the Times contesting the official narrative might be a record for the 21st Century. IMO, the world's nations know who has credibility and who doesn't. Rouhani's in Ankara for talks with Putin and Erdogan and has already answered questions by the press as has Putin which I hope to provide as soon as they're published.

IMO, oil price will continue to rise. Houthis will successfully attack again, and there's nothing the Outlaw US Empire can do to alter those happenings. I didn't mention that no Chinese of Russian publication I've seen has condemned the Houthi attack as they understand that it was a legitimate act of war, which the Outlaw US Empire clearly can't stomach because it's been shown again to be nothing but a paper tiger.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 16 2019 18:59 utc | 98


unless I see some pretty conclusive and convincing "evidence" elsewhere, I can go along with the reasoning of karlof @ #78

"Sure, the Houthis did the deed. They're far more capable and sophisticated than most know. If they'd had a decent air force, the war situation would be quite different. But--Guess what!?--now they do have an air force, and the Sauds are in deep shit!"


I certainly would expect to hear that the Houthis got some help along the way from the very technologically advanced Iranians, and some on the ground intelligence and assistance from the Shia kin in that area of Arabia

nice, k!

this Houthi attack was a brilliant and sophisticated operation which has not only knocked out some 58% of saudi oil production, but has scared the shit out of everyone in Riyadh and DC......and the US military, which once again is asleep (or incapacitated) at the wheel and unable to protect their most valued assets on the face of the earth.


Posted by: michaelj72 | Sep 16 2019 19:01 utc | 99

Oh Noooes!

Mike Pompoopo has been conferring with a succubus and now has proof Iran did it. He will present his messy nickers at first opportunity. Don't miss this. Zerohedge reports:

US Officials: Aramco Attack Came From "Iranian Soil"; Pompeo To Release 'Evidence'

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Sep 16 2019 19:06 utc | 100

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