Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 17, 2019

How Russia And Iran Beat Their Opponents' Strategies

Over the last decades Russia and Iran both needed to develop means to protect themselves against an ever growing threat from the United States and its allies. Both found unique ways to build deterrence that fit their situation.

Neither the U.S. nor its allies reacted to those developments by adopting their strategies or military means. It is only recently that the U.S. has woken up to the real situation. The loss of half its oil export capacity may finally wake up Saudi Arabia. Most other U.S. allies are still asleep.

When NATO extended into east Europe and the U.S. left the Anti-Ballistic-Missile Treaty Russia announced that it would develop countermeasures to keep the U.S. deterred from attacking it. Ten years later Russia delivered on its promise.

It had developed a number of new weapons that can defeat the ballistic missile defense the U.S. installed. It also put emphasis on its own air and missile defense as well as on radar and on electronic countermeasures that are so good that a U.S. general described them as "eye-watering".

All this allowed Putin to troll Trump by offering him Russian hypersonic missiles. As we analyzed:

Trump is wrong in claiming that the U.S. makes its own hypersonic weapons. While the U.S. has some in development none will be ready before 2022 and likely only much later. Hypersonic weapons are a Soviet/Russian invention. The ones Russia now puts into service are already the third generation. U.S. development of such missiles is at least two generations behind Russia's.

That Russian radar can 'see' stealth aircraft has been known since 1999 when a Yugoslav army unit shot down a U.S. F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft. Russian air and missile defense proved in Syria that it can defeat mass attacks by drones as well as by cruise missiles. U.S.-made air and missile defense in Saudi Arabia fails to take down even the primitive missiles Houthi forces fire against it.

Yesterday, during a press conference in Ankara with his Turkish and Iranian colleagues, Putin trolled Saudi Arabia (video @38:20) with a similar offer as he had made to Trump:

Q: Does Russia intend to provide Saudi Arabia with any help or support in restoring its infrastructure?

Putin: As for assisting Saudi Arabia, it is also written in the Quran that violence of any kind is illegitimate except when protecting one’s people. In order to protect them and the country, we are ready to provide the necessary assistance to Saudi Arabia. All the political leaders of Saudi Arabia have to do is take a wise decision, as Iran did by buying the S-300 missile system, and as President Erdogan did when he bought Russia’s latest S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft system. They would offer reliable protection for any Saudi infrastructure facilities.

President of Iran Hassan Rouhani: So do they need to buy the S-300 or the S-400?

Vladimir Putin: It is up to them to decide.

Erdogan, Rouhani and Putin all laughed over this exchange.

U.S. allies, who have to buy U.S. weapons, have followed a similar defense investment strategy as the U.S. itself. They bought weapon systems that are most useful for wars of aggression but did not invest in defensive weapon systems that are needed when their enemies prove capable of hitting back.

That is the reason why Saudi Arabia has more than 350 modern fighter planes but only relatively few medium and long range air defense systems that date back to the 1970s.

The Saudi air defense is only able to protect certain economic and social centers. Most of its borders and its military bases are not covered.

[T]he point-defense layout of the network leaves large portions of the nation undefended by strategic SAM assets. While aircraft can be called upon to defend these areas if required, the presence of large gaps in the nationwide air defense picture leaves numerous vulnerabilities open to exploitation by a foreign aggressor.
Saudi air defense as documented by Amir at Iran GeoMil.


Moreover the protection it has in place is unidirectional. The red circles designate the theoretical reach of the U.S. made PAC-2 air defense systems installed at their center. But the real reach of these systems only cover less than a half-circle. The PAC-2 and PAC-3 systems are sector defenses as their radars do not rotate. They can only see an arc of 120°. In the case of the Saudis those radars only look towards the east to Iran which is the most likely axis of attack. That left the crude oil processing plant in Abqaiq completely unprotected against attacks from any other direction. Neither Saudi Arabia nor the U.S. know where the attack really came from.


The Russian experience against the U.S. directed drone swarm attacks against its airbase Hmeymim in Syria showed that short range air defenses and electronic countermeasures are the best defense against mass drone and cruise missile attacks.

Saudi Arabia does not have short range air defenses against drones and cruise missiles because the U.S. does not have such systems. It also does not have sophisticated electronic countermeasures because the U.S. can not provide any decent ones.

What the Saudis need are the Russian Pantsyr-S1 short range air defense, dozens of them, and the Krasukha-4 electronic warfare system. The Russian may well offer at least the first item. But would the U.S. allow the Saudis to buy them?

Saudi Arabia, like the U.S., never took its opponents seriously. It bombed Yemen to smithereens and never expected to be hit back. It long rallied the U.S. to wage war on Iran but took few measures to protect itself from an Iranian counterreaction.

After the long range attack from Yemen in August it was warned that the Houthi's missile reach had increased. Saudi Arabia ignored the warning and it took zero notable measures to protect Abqaiq processing center which is a choke point for half its income.

Iran, in contrast, developed its weapons along an asymmetric strategy just as Russia did.

Iran does not have a modern airforce. It does not need one because it is not aggressive. It has long developed other means to deter the U.S., Saudi Arabia and other opponents in the Middle East. It has a large number of self developed medium range ballistic missiles and a whole zoo of short to medium range drones and cruise missiles. It can hit any economic or military target within their 2,000 kilometer reach.

It also makes its own air defenses which recently enabled it to take down an expensive U.S. drone. Here is General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of IRGC's Aerospace Force, explaining how that was done (video, engl. subs).

Iran developed relations with friendly population groups in other countries and trained and equipped them with the necessary defensive means. These are Hizbullah in Lebanon, various groups in the Syria, the PMG/Hashd in Iraq, the Houthi in Yemen and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

None of these groups is a full proxy for Iran. They all have their own local politics and will at times disagree with their big partner. But they are also willing to act on Iran's behalf should the need arise.

Iran developed a number of weapons exclusively for its allies that differ from the ones it itself uses. It enables its partners to build those weapons themselves. The cruise missile and drones that the Houti in Yemen use are different from the one Iran uses for its own forces.

New drones and missiles displayed in July 2019 by Yemen’s Houthi-allied armed forces


Iran has thereby plausible deniability when attacks like the recent one on Abquiq happen. That Iran supplied drones with 1,500 kilometer reach to its allies in Yemen means that its allies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq and elsewhere have access to similar means.

The Saudis have long failed to take Iran's counter strategy into their considerations just as the U.S. has failed to consider the Russian's. Both will have to change their aggressive strategies. Both are now going have to (re-)develop real defensive means.

Posted by b on September 17, 2019 at 19:19 UTC | Permalink

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Thanks for the posting b

There seems to be some BS afloat about how much damage the Houthi did with their 10 drones because of this recent quote from Reuters
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices dropped sharply on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said the kingdom has fully restored its oil production after having been hit by an attack this weekend that shut 5% of global oil output.

What is the reality of the Houthi strike damage and how much of the BS coming out of the Plato's Cave displays is real or fake news to support other agendas?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Sep 17 2019 19:36 utc | 1

Trump isn't going to touch Iran. Here's (part of the reason) why.

Posted by: Maracatu | Sep 17 2019 19:37 utc | 2

Long time reader, first time commenter. Thank you thank you thank you for the effort you put into your work! Please keep it up.

Posted by: Mehdi Manseur | Sep 17 2019 19:45 utc | 3

Yemen gave the Saudi's a good kick in the nuts with their latest strike, but the damage to the eleven pressure tanks only exists on the sat pics released by USD. The strike took out Saudi reserve capacity plus a bit extra rather than fifty percent of production.
Fifty percent loss of production is only for the period of putting out fires and damage assessment.

I doubt US under Trump is too concerned about providing the milk cow with better defences. They will provide some very expensive offensive hardware perhaps and then wait to snap up Aramco on the cheap.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 19:56 utc | 4

Here is an article that looks at how American voters feel about Donald Trump's approach to Iran:

Should the warrior who currently inhabits the position of Secretary of State use his influence to persuade Donald Trump to enter what would likely be a very lengthy war of attrition in Iran, it may prove to be a very costly move for the Republican Party in November of 2020 given the level of support for such actions among Main Street Americans.

Posted by: Sally Snyder | Sep 17 2019 19:58 utc | 5

It will be hard for the USA to steer the ship towards a "perfect" military industry because it is a capitalist economy, where it is the private sector -- not the public sector -- which decides what will be produced, how, and when. The State can only come up with the general specifications and the money.

Besides, the military sector is cutting edge: you cannot simply pay your way to supremacy. It takes decades and decades (sometimes even centuries) of expertise and investment for an MIC to become proficient in an area of weaponry. If military supreamacy was only a question of money, any tin pot dictator from a big Third World country (e.g. Turkey, Phillipines, Brazil, Indonesia, India) could easily buy his way to the First World club in a matter of a couple decades.

It will be hard for Saudi Arabia to buy significant quantities of Russian weaponry because that would hurt the Petrodollar scheme. In this scheme, oil revenues from SA are denominated in USD, which are then used to buy weapons and US Treasury bonds (i.e. US debt). If the Saudis begin to buy Russian weapons, that would mean, worst case scenario for the USA, some USD 10 billion less per year to their MIC. That would put a dent in the Petrodollar recycling system because Russia is sanctioned and is stocking up gold and setting up Renminbi-denominated swap mechanisms.

Posted by: vk | Sep 17 2019 20:00 utc | 6

Re post 4 should have read USG rather than USD.

Between Houti strikes, US blackmail and protection racket and Putins jokes, the Saudi's are probably feeling a bit under the weather at the moment.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 20:03 utc | 7

B's posting is further proof that the US of A (and it's flunky allies) are indeed led by the stupid, corrupt, and ignorant. While Russia and Iran are taking rational routes to protect themselves, the US and it's allies are pouring billions, if not trillions, of dollars (and thousands of lives) into a foreign policy that can only be described as the foreign policy of God, for it passes all human understanding.

Posted by: GeorgeV | Sep 17 2019 20:09 utc | 8

Thanks b! One way looking radar is so Pre-Second World War! The Patriot's MPQ-53 radar has a search sector of 90° and track capability of 120°--an amazingly inferior capability I wasn't aware of, nor is the vast majority of the public, which is why that twitter gif I linked to on the previous thread is humorous. In that comment, it was said that the radar's were reoriented to aim at Houthiland which is the given excuse as to why the Iranian attack wasn't detected. I don't buy that for an instant.

Houthi media's gone silent for now as it awaits a response from Saudis before launching there next attack in under 48 hours--yes, they did place an actual time, but were very general about the types of targets, although the top threat remains hydrocarbon infrastructure. RT reports:

"Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said that its oil supplies had resumed and that its oil market would be 'fully back online' by the end of September following attacks which Washington blames on Iran while Riyadh is still probing.

"Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told the media that oil production in October would reach 9.89 million barrels per day and 12 million bpd by the end of November."

We shall see if the output equals the boast, particularly if Houthis continue their attacks. No questions about providing better defenses reminds me of the Death Star Commandeer's famous last words about his weapon's invincibility.

Meanwhile, Nuttyahoo's coalition's narrowly losing the election.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 20:12 utc | 9

Thank you Mercatu #2 but I am not convinced that Wolf's analysis supplies any confidence that Trump will be restrained. Trump seemed to be willing to support the Saudis in battle with Iran which is what the Israelis propose. Trick some sucker into warring with their enemy.

Bonesawman is doomed if he goes there.

More importantly though, there are many countries currently allied to thd USA ghat rely on imported oil from Saudi sources. Iran has made it clear to all that an attack its oil exporting capacity will result on closure of all middle east exporting. That plus the USA presidential election cycle are the only restraints and I doubt they are sufficient.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Sep 17 2019 20:16 utc | 10

Fighting Dirty w/Aysymmetric Warfare

I love how the warmongers on FOX / CNN make Iran / Russia sound nefarious that they call their strategy A2D2 or asymmetric warfare (aka actual defense of their country instead of power projection). How is using short / medium range missiles or a green water navy 'asymmetric'?

If we do go to war w/Iran the only way we win is by committing war crimes by bombing population centers until they surrender, we can't beat them in a straight up fight. I'm not a military wonk but I can see the relative competence levels. We can't even get a decent photo of a boat with a bomb on it after it's been sitting in broad daylight for 10hrs.

Posted by: Christian J Chuba | Sep 17 2019 20:18 utc | 11

Psychohistorian I completely agree and made a somewhat similar point in a comment on the previous thread a bit later than your comment here.

There I point out that the statement itself is weird and at least as I read it (from it is very unclear as to what exactly it is supposed to mean. Both Reuters and market-bots interpret it to mean whatever they want to be true (whatever is self-serving). If the bots had any true reading comprehension such things as Trump's tweets wouldn't ever have had any impact at all.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Sep 17 2019 20:20 utc | 12


I reckon the news reports coming out now on Saudi production will be pretty close to the mark.
Cross the eleven tanks off the damage list. Of the remainder that show blackening, extent of damage would depend on fire damage plus size of warhead. Compare the size of the cruise missile to the ballistic missile in the pic b has provided. Up to full pre-strike production by the end of the month and full reserve capacity after several months doesn't seem too far fetched.
I guess that would also depend to an extent on what pre-strike production figure actually was.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 20:31 utc | 13

And Europe is going nowhere:

You can take a horse to water but….

Last Thursday, Mario Draghi, the current head of the European Central bank, soon to be replaced by Christine Lagarde from the IMF, announced a parting gift to banks and financial markets. The ECB decided to reintroduce its bond purchasing programme in order to inject yet more billions into Europe’s banks in order to persuade them to lend onto industry and boost lagging growth.

This was the return of quantitative easing (QE) by the ECB. But this time there was to be no time limit on the E20bn monthly of ECB purchases. It was to be forever – QE to infinity! Also, the ECB would purchase not just the government bonds of debt-ridden Italy, Spain etc but also much riskier assets like corporate bonds.

Draghi also announced a new two-tier interest rate system for bank cash reserves held at the central bank. These reserves have spiralled as banks took cash from ECB purchases of government bonds they held, but instead of lending that cash on in loans to the wider economy, the banks just put them back in the central bank as deposits.

Welcome to Zombie Europe.

Posted by: vk | Sep 17 2019 20:39 utc | 14

b said with regards to KSA & the U$A;"Both will have to change their aggressive strategies. Both will now have (re-)develop real defensive means."

Hopefully, they'll choose to dial back their aggressive strategies, instead of continuing the madness of a continuing arms race to oblivion...

Clearly, a dream on my part..

Posted by: ben | Sep 17 2019 20:45 utc | 15

Well, I still think the failure to anticipate a Houthi attack is suspicious.

Another "failure of imagination" like 9-11 that conveniently allowed the attack to happen.

Even if the radar only points one way, they could've set up radars that pointed in other directions. After all, the Houthi had already demonstrated their ability to strike targets far from Yemen.

And the damage done is also suspicious. 17 targets hit by 10 long-range drones/cruise missiles? And the high precision? USA+Saudis are saying the ONLY explanation is that Iran participated in the attack. But there's another explanation: sabotage (or photoshop) that increased the damage so that oil prices would go higher and fears of war with Iran would distract everyone from the possibility that its really all about oil prices and Netanyahu's election.

Self-inflicted damage after a major attack? That too was something we saw in 9-11 when WTC7 was brought down.

PS Like many, my initial reaction was that this attack would be the justification for war with Iran. But increased TENSIONS are probably enough for TPTB to achieve some very desireable ojectives:

1. Election of Netanyahu

2. Funding Trump's "Deal of the Century" for Palestinians
Saudis will pay them to leave with the increased revenue from higher oil prices

3. USA financial bailout
Financial firms have tens of billions invested in fracking which is not profitable at low oil prices

4. More pressure on Iran
But not war ... yet

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 17 2019 20:50 utc | 16

Putins earlier warnings, I think, will be creating a lot of indecision in the US over attacking Iran. Some will say Putin is bluffing but others will not be so sure.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 20:58 utc | 17

Por que será que os S-300 e os S-400 não funcionam na Síria contra as forças de Israel, em ???

Posted by: Cleiton Rodrigues | Sep 17 2019 21:03 utc | 18

It's become standard procedure for the US and its MSM to consider that Iran is totally responsible for all anti-US events in the Middle East because of actions by Iran's "proxy forces" in other countries. While these events usually have more diverse objectives, it's often Iran did this and Iran did that. But there's no legal basis for that.

Here's some words on proxy relationships from DefenseOne: (excerpts)

Iran’s proxy relationships have given it an extraordinary ability to impose costs on its adversaries while obscuring its role. Doing so allows it to manage its risks while politically constraining its adversaries’ response. It might seem intuitive to simply declare Iran responsible, and satisfying to retaliate against it directly. But international law sets a high bar for holding a proxy’s benefactor responsible for the actions of its proxy, making it difficult to build the kind of international consensus necessary to the legitimacy for any retaliation.

Under international law, a state is accountable for the unlawful actions of a proxy only if an organ of the state ordered the proxy to commit the act. It is not sufficient simply to have provided material support or even encouraged the unlawful act. For example, in the 1980s, the International Court of Justice found the United States not liable for Contra violations of international humanitarian law, even after concluding that the United States had “financed, organized, trained, supplied, equipped and armed” the Contras, even to the point of providing training materials that discussed “shoot civilians attempting to leave a town, neutralize local judges and officials, hire professional criminals to carry out ‘jobs,’ and provoke violence at mass demonstrations to create ‘martyrs’.”

Setting the bar so high establishes perverse incentives. A state that employs proxies is discouraged from moderating their behavior, since any attempt at moderation could imply effective control, and even from acknowledging the proxy relationships. So without proof that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which typically manages Iran’s proxy relationships, ordered or participated in the attacks, there is little for which Saudi Arabia or the United States can hold Iran legally accountable.. .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 17 2019 21:06 utc | 19

Peter AU 1

Yeah. USA+allies still have a soft blockade via sanctions. And every attack that is attributed to Iran strengthens that.

It doesn't make sense that Iran participated in the attack.

And it doesn't make sense that Houthi did the damage we see by themselves.

Either they increased the damage to create a reason for war OR they increased the damage to help Netanyahu and increase oil prices.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 17 2019 21:07 utc | 20

FYI "they increased" in my last line refers to USA+Israel+Saudis.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 17 2019 21:08 utc | 21

I am underwhelmed by the satellite photos. The storage tanks seem pretty much intact, when my untrained analysis has to assume that a lot of soot and scorching should be the result of fires with intense heat. Why wouldn't the storage tanks simply melt down?

The industrial structures in the lower left of the photo do show a lot of soot, but how much was generated from normal refining process I cannot say.

Posted by: JohnH | Sep 17 2019 21:09 utc | 22

@ Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 17 2019 20:50 utc | 16

9/11 doesn't even compare to the Houthi attack.

In 2001, drones were just a distant dream. It also involves a chain of once in a lifetime of human errors by at least three governmental institutions (CIA, FBI and Pentagon).

What the Houthi did in 2019 is not that far fetched. Drones are a much more developed and cheap technology, and Saudi Arabia is a basket case of a country. Surprise is how much soft power they did enjoy in the West, since many commenters here still insist Saudi Arabia is some kind of fascist utopia that couldn't be tricked by a bunch of stone age cave dwellers (which the Houthi aren't any way). Looks like the USA's aura of invincibility is contagious.

Posted by: vk | Sep 17 2019 21:10 utc | 23

Jackrabbit #16. Perhaps increased tensions are enough to get Nuttyahoo elected (which I think fits with the supposition that this attack is false flag). However My guess is that the Houthis will prosecute this war to the very doorsteps of the holy mosques in KSA and exact immense retribution if they can. They are responding to 5 years of geocidal assault and cannot but fight to the death.

Trump and his immaculate surrounds of holy zionists and pentecostal towel boys are in thrall. Mesmerised by their inspired service to the holy writ. No doubt they consult daily with their personal rabbi who talks through his fedora as O would have it. But they are beholden to something evil and beneath the dignity of humankind.

Perhaps war will be avoided by dithering and too elaborate plotting but I still consider that justice might manifest in a meteor strike on their heads.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Sep 17 2019 21:12 utc | 24

According to Zero hedge, the enhanced pics were released just before marked opening. Another thing to consider was the UNGA meeting scheduled for the 17th.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 21:13 utc | 25

What is going to do us in, amongst other things, is the waste, graft, & corruption associated w/our military budget. Most take comfort thinking the US outspends the world in defense budgeting, but I'd suggest we're not getting much bang for it. Seems like current Russian & Chinese weapons prove that. Crazy world. I keep hoping for peace, but divide & conquer seems to be too easy to put over on the herd. We could change it tomorrow if all together, without a shot or violence. We've got to get together brothers/sisters. Set aside your petty differences. Ending war is the only issue until it's stopped. Love.

Posted by: BDrizz | Sep 17 2019 21:20 utc | 26

Rather black or white, all fact or all fiction, the USG low definition sat pics are most likely a mix of fact and fiction.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 21:23 utc | 27

vk @23: What the Houthi did in 2019 is not that far fetched

I agree and understand that they could hit the facility.

I think the consensus at MoA (and many other sites) is that the Houthi had the capability to hit the facility. So why didn't the Saudis and their friends and allies also recognize that and take steps to counter the threat?

Furthermore, the Houthis didn't need to hit this huge facility with high precision. And they didn't need to hit 17 targets with 10 drones. They just needed to send a message to the Saudis. Even if only half the drones made it to the facility and blew something up it would have been a 'win' for the Houthi.

This massive strike makes no sense given the status of the war. The Houthi have already won. What would be expected is a "reminder" to the Saudis to start negotiation (as they said they would) - or else. But this strike is more like a punishing strike that would be made if the Saudis had rejected negotiations outright and attacked instead.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 17 2019 21:38 utc | 28

Here's what a storage tank looked like after a fire in S. Korea … nothing like those shown so far in Saudi Arabia, which are entirely intact, except for a couple possible holes.

Posted by: JohnH | Sep 17 2019 21:39 utc | 29

This report from the Kremlin on the meeting between Putin and Netanyahu, looks exactly like Putin endorsing Netanyahu for re-election:

"Meeting with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu"

It almost looks like a quid pro quo, where Putin says, 'so long as you take care of the russian MPs like you have been doing, then I'll support you for re-election and I'll accept your invitation to Israel in January'.

Posted by: SharonM | Sep 17 2019 21:44 utc | 30

Peter AU 1 @13--

The doctored sat pics will cut at least two ways: First, they further erode the credibility of the Outlaw US Empire (as if that was even possible); second, the Houthis will now try to make the fake pics beyond realistic in their next attack. Also, it bears repeating the Houthi said they launched ten UAVs with a mixture of powerplants but never mentioned the type(s) of UAVs. They may consider a cruise missile a UAV, although in previous announcements that type has always been specified. Perhaps more Fog of War was advised.

Meanwhile, Houthi Media announced it will soon strike UAE--"Abdulsalam: Decision Made, Military to Strike UAE Depth; More Than Ever, UAE Deserved to be Targeted." More as to why in article.

In another story, Trump says Outlaw US Empire lacked ammunition at the beginning of his regime and "When I came here [to the White House], 50% of our jet fighters were not flying. They were in bad shape." And of course, now everything's better. Yes, it was a campaign speech in New Mexico where he made those utterances. Maybe he should rant about the pre-WW2 radar sets that can only see in one direction!

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 21:45 utc | 31

On the election taking place in Occupied Palestine, this linked item was published at midnight local time and says the result is almost a tie with Nuttyahoo slightly trailing. I'm not going to make any predictions other than the result won't be known for awhile.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 21:54 utc | 32

Lieberman was defence mister when the Russian IL20 was hit. Will be bad news if he gets a say in the future Israeli government.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel’s former defense chief Avigdor Lieberman, a possible kingmaker in the parliamentary election held on Tuesday, called for a national unity government after exit polls showed no clear winner at the ballot.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 22:01 utc | 33

Nice expose, B.
And the conclusion is of specific importance, particularly this spot on bit: "That Iran supplied drones with 1,500 kilometer reach to its allies in Yemen means that its allies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq and elsewhere have access to similar means."
Well, I'd expect IDF top generals and Netanayahu to sweat a lot right now, at the prospect of Hizbullah having both tens of thousands of classical balistic missiles and these new shiny toys as well.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Sep 17 2019 22:01 utc | 34

nice one, b. many thanks!

"...It bombed Yemen to smithereens and never expected to be hitten (sp.) back..."

eternal shame on the house of saud for attacking poor Yemen like they have done.... of course with the vital assistance of the US, UK and France. Shame on them all, including the UAE. The sauds and emirates will suffer for it now that the Houthis know exactly what to do.

One word for all of them: Hubris

the usual 'unnamed officials' and MSM quoted crowd still insist that the Houthis couldn't possibly have carried it off. And the usual bipartisan war mongers are at it:

"Senator Christopher Coons (D-Del.) appeared on Fox & Friends Monday morning to discuss the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities. “This may well be the thing that calls for military action against Iran if that’s what the intelligence supports,” Coons said...".

Posted by: michaelj72 | Sep 17 2019 22:04 utc | 35

@ Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 17 2019 21:38 utc | 28

The Houthi have won, but the terms of their victory are still to be negotiated.

And why not? Drones are as cheap and as precise as ever. ICBMs have a margin of error of less than one meter nowadays (they travel almost the entire globe's surface), so it wouldn't be surprising for a drone to have almost perfect coordinated precision in a, say, 2,000 km radius.

It's not like the Houthi live in caves or something like that. They were (at least a good portion of them) functioning civilians in Yemen before the war begun, and it's not only not surprising, but very likely there are many doctors, engineers, State employees and Yemeni military officials among them.

Posted by: vk | Sep 17 2019 22:05 utc | 36

SharonM 30

This looks to be the only paragragh where Putin mentions MP's.

"Mr Prime Minister, I know that your country is on the eve of major domestic political events, the elections to Knesset on September 17, I believe. It is common knowledge that over 1.5 million former Soviet citizens live in Israel. We have always considered them our people, our compatriots. Naturally, we are not indifferent as regards future Israeli MPs, let me be straight about this. We are hoping they will be responsible politicians that will certainly maintain all recent achievements in bilateral relations and will move forward with us in developing Russian-Israeli ties."

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 22:12 utc | 37

History of UAVs show the technology has been around for 100+ years. Remember WW2's V-1--that was a UAV/cruise missile.

"The earliest recorded use of an unmanned aerial vehicle for warfighting occurred in July 1849,... Austrian forces besieging Venice attempted to float some 200 incendiary balloons each carrying a 24- to 30-pound bomb that was to be dropped from the balloon with a time fuse over the besieged city."

Or 160 years since the first use of such weapons, however rudimentary. What's changed? Construction materials, powerplants, navigational systems, and armaments. But they still remain very inexpensive relative to manned aircraft. For example, one P-51 in 2018 $$ cost 570K which will get you @30 drones employed by Houthis. And it seems Houthis are very capable at rapidly producing them--perhaps @100 already made and expended so far this year. And as the item I linked @31 shows, such capability has increased Houthi confidence.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 22:13 utc | 38

@ Chris Chuba @11: "asymmetric warfare" is one of those terms that talking heads and armchair strategists like to use to sopund smart.

Other examples are "weaponizing" (as in "ZOMG Putin is weaponizing mathematics ZOMG!") and "hybrid warfare" (which apparently means "any conflict that doesn't involve uniformed armies fighting in neat formations over a clearly defined battlefield.")

Posted by: Sid Finster | Sep 17 2019 22:20 utc | 39

Saoud had been coaxed time and time again into a larger oil output, to fit US demands. Now it gets a better price, and sets aside half of its reserves for a while. Not bad.
Psychohistorian or JohnH make a point too, when wondering how serious the destructions were...
Also : maybe some of his men & allies are fed up with the Yemen mess, not too keen anymore about Nuttnyahoo's follies. Welcome, half-time ?

Posted by: chb | Sep 17 2019 22:22 utc | 40

The US/Saudi strategy starts on the premise that the attack didn't come from Yemen. This benefits the two countries in various ways as has been discussed including miitary vulnerability and maintaining Iran as the primary enemy.

Riyadh has issued a statement which (in English) has some convuluted language ending up with a finding that Iranian weapons were used in the attack, which means nothing in terms of culpability even if KSA does have evidence..
The statement also declares " these militias are mere tools to implement the agenda of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and its terrorist regime" without saying what militias. If these "mere tools" are in Iraq, that country denies it and the US has assessed that the attack on Saudi oil facilities originated inside Iran.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 17 2019 22:30 utc | 41

Oil prices only 7.2% above Friday. S&P 500 within 1% of record. This is not normal behavior after "Pearl Harbor" type event. Something smells fishy, very fishy.

Stocks fell 4% after Pearl Harbor, 7% after 911.

Who is assuaging the markets' uncertainty about the dire consequences of SA attacks?

Posted by: JohnH | Sep 17 2019 22:39 utc | 42

vk @36: Houthi cheerleading

So explain how they hit 17+ targets with 10 drones.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 17 2019 22:41 utc | 43

Surely by now the Saudis must realise that if Abqaiq is within the range of Houthi missile attacks - Abqaiq is 1,158 km away from the Yemen border - then cities like Jeddah (population: over 4 million as of 2017, and 1,183 km away from the Yemen border) and Mecca must also be within range of Houthi missile attacks. That fact ought to concentrate Klown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's mind wonderfully on what should matter.

Posted by: Jen | Sep 17 2019 22:41 utc | 44

10 long-range drones.

And some 11 targets look like the drone/missile impacted but didn't explode.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 17 2019 22:44 utc | 45

What the Saudis need are the Russian Pantsyr-S1 short range air defense, dozens of them
I don't like correcting errors but this one shouts out to me.
What the Saudis need are the Russian Pantsyr-S1 short range air defense, thousands of them
A $15 million a piece, that'll be a lot of money that's never used to buy U.S. Treasury Bonds, Washington will not be happy. As for the attack itself, it was not serious - if it was the plant at Abqaig would have been wiped off the map. Instead it was a demonstration of what certain countries could look forward to. The holes punched in the four domes sent the message that the author of this action has achieved a very high level of accuracy. As Ian Fleming wrote "The first time is happenstance (an accident), the second time is coincidence,and the third time is enemy action" Nobody can claim that the author of this attack just got lucky when it comes to accuracy. With that level of accuracy, you could slot a missile through one of the many windows of the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv, blow up an F-15, F-16, or F-35 sat on the apron of one of the many "Coalition" airbases in the Middle East or take out all the M270/M142s at al Tanf in one go. Any fixed base now becomes a liability and I doubt even the United States has the logistics capability to go fully mobile. BTW, it's tempting to think of this as an Israeli or US black op. but neither Tel Aviv nor Washington can keep its mouth shut for long, and the Saudis would have selected a target less critical to the national economy. If the Houthis are willing to self-identify as the authors of this action, I'm perfectly happy to believe them, anything less would be racist.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Sep 17 2019 22:46 utc | 46

After looking at a number images on Google, I have yet to see anything that shows substantial fire damage apart from the blackened structures in the lower left hand corner of the satellite phot shown here.

Could this be false flag like the chemical weapons attacks in Syria? In this case, lots of fire, but set in such a way as to avoid actual damage?

Posted by: JohnH | Sep 17 2019 22:51 utc | 47

A note on the motif of b's report--defense. In martial arts, we're taught how to defend before we're taught how to attack. Some disciplines like Putin's Judo are almost completely defense oriented and allow the attacker to beat itself. Only in sports is a great offense considered better than a great defense. And IMO, that's where the fault in the Outlaw US Empire's thinking lies--it's all about scoring instead of pitching the no hitter. And that's where it's set itself up for failure, with its Too Big to Fail ideology. Failure happens when you fail to plan for its occurrence. Great baseball hitters fail 2/3s of the time, but their failure rate's extolled, although it's called the exact opposite. Failure within the USA is The Great Taboo and is quickly swept under the rug into the memory hole. Other cultures look at failures as learning opportunities and for the most part don't hide them. China's current line on Hong Kong is that it's failed in its duty to provide for the most basic human need beyond food and water--shelter--but it's couched in a manner that allows Hong Kong to rectify its failure and become a champion of the people. For a counterpoint US example, look to Flint, Michigan, or Love Canal, New York--just two of all too many. Failures whose lessons were never learned and now ignored by the false hope that if we do so they won't happen again.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 22:55 utc | 48

Great article B. The U.S. and its allies are completely wrong headed in their ideas regarding the use of force. This situation is an excellent example of that fact. If they do not correct themselves, they can expect these types of examples to become rather commonplace I expect.

Posted by: Josh | Sep 17 2019 22:56 utc | 49

SharonM I disagree and more so than Peter AU 1: Putin came across as appropriately diplomatic while the Israeli fool came across as deceptive trying his best to put words into Putin's mouth. The Russians don't need to point anything as obvious as this out by throwing a fit in public because it was a fools game by an idiot during what is meant as pleasantries and bonhomie. I doubt anyone used it to try to boost the fool's stature, not even in Israel, but maybe I'm wrong?

It does highlight (again) that maybe Israel sucks at diplomatic coutume (meaning custom). Don't they know any better than this or are his handlers happy enough to let him make a fool out of himself? In diplomacy the well-established and mandatory time to act like a retarded moron is during the free-flowing parties and not during actual business :)

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Sep 17 2019 23:05 utc | 50

SRB @50--

Election repeats April election in that no party will be able to forge a parliamentary majority. But there is one difference as noted at the end of the linked item:

"Tuesday’s results look likely to position Lieberman as the 'kingmaker' once again. However, he has called for a 'national unity government.'

"'We have only one option - a national, liberal, broad government comprising Yisrael Beitenu, Likud and Blue and White,' he told a campaign rally in Jerusalem on Tuesday night, according to Reuters.

Blue and White have not ruled out such an alliance, on condition that Netanyahu himself is not a part of it.

So, perhaps all of Nutty's efforts will still see him ousted. But IMO, will a new face make any difference?

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 23:20 utc | 51

JohnH you're not the only one and it's not about what Houthis could or couldn't do because they could be the best in the world beyond any doubt but someone (like the US) could still come along after them and piggyback on their attack and twist it to their own purpose. Considering the previous Houthi use of drones or similar (and whether real or not, successful or not) it would be easy for the US to make plans to do this. It also interferes with the Houthis' OODA loop and gives them (and us) bad intelligence.

Twisting things to their own purpose; isn't that exactly what the US is doing no matter how large or how successful this attack by the Houthis was? Conclusion: let's not trust the US/KSA version of events and their dubious pictures and claims.

Can the rest of us all agree on all of this being a possibility at least? No it doesn't make anyone a racist if they agree :P (in case people genuinely don't know what that word is about racists are people who proclaim a belief in their own racial superiority over other races and they're quite rare while bigots are everywhere (probably everyone at some time, looks like a natural human trait)).

(And as in another new comment on another thread let's see what the US is alleged to plan to puke up at the UN GA or UN GA GD "next week").

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Sep 17 2019 23:32 utc | 52

b - thanks! good overview on the difference between defensive and offensive positions... i see @48 is talking about what i was going to talk about.. thanks karlof1.. the asians are masters in the art of war... putin learned more then a few things from his judo focus.. the problem with the west as i see it is it used to rely on a strong offensive and in the case of the usa, or canada - has never had to respond to a strong offensive.. just why the defensive position is not adopted or appreciated is a bit of a mystery... but this is exactly what ksa has adopted on making its bed with the usa.. a weak defense...

@19 don bacon - re the defenseone commentary... i fixed it for you..

"USA’s proxy relationships have given it an extraordinary ability to impose costs on its adversaries while obscuring its role. Doing so allows it to manage its risks while politically constraining its adversaries’ response. It might seem intuitive to simply declare USA responsible, and satisfying to retaliate against it directly. But international law sets a high bar for holding a proxy’s benefactor responsible for the actions of its proxy, making it difficult to build the kind of international consensus necessary to the legitimacy for any retaliation."

and therein lies the challenge for russia, china and a host of other countries in moving slowly but effectively against this rogue exceptional nation - USA..

@28 jackrabbit question - "So why didn't the Saudis and their friends and allies also recognize that and take steps to counter the threat?" see my first paragraph... the usa only knows a strong offensive.. they are clearly weak on defense... sins and omissions of the usa fall upon ksa... in fact - this is a real clear message the usa doesn't have a concept on defense as i see it..

thanks for the comments everyone..

Posted by: james | Sep 17 2019 23:34 utc | 53

Final question: could a Houthi drone really carry enough of an explosive charge to pierce the walls of a steel storage tank? Since there would be no help from gravity, the destruction has to be almost entirely contained within the explosive itself. Not having access to the specs for such tanks, I have to assume that they are made of steel that is pretty thick.

Posted by: JohnH | Sep 17 2019 23:34 utc | 54

bernard, I'd like you to add this one to your Russia 'weaponized' list please!
more 'weaponized jokes'

I had to bring it up as you mentioned Putin's remark trolling saudi arabia at the joint press conference. Check this out, from over at raw story, but apparently reprinted from the AFP
Putin aims a weaponized barb at Trump over Saudi attack – and hits the mark

....“We’re ready to help Saudi Arabia to protect their people,” said Putin, flanked by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani. Ensconced in a front-row seat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s jovial foreign minister, grinned expectantly, waiting for a weaponised Russian joke.....

Posted by: michaelj72 | Sep 17 2019 23:35 utc | 55

PavewayIV provided the following tweet in one of his Southfront comments. Massive weight's being placed on the direction of the attacks. From the linked BBC report: "One official said there were 19 points [Oops, not 17] of impact on the targets and the attacks had come from a west-north-west direction." That led the tweeter to exclaim:

"That’s weird. Isn’t W by NW of Abqaiq... Israel?"

Seems BBC pulled the map shown by Tweeter and replaced it with another lacking the previous information. As stated before, I back the Houthi claim of responsibility for its legitimate attack on Saudi facilities.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 23:42 utc | 56

Karlof1 I don't follow Israeli internal politics except if by accident (like reading a link or two on MoA) but the alternative is still Gantz I see...

If they elect Gantz I guess they can finally throw the other one into jail (or would Gantz save him from that?) but beyond this my very shallow knowledge and negative bias (to both!) shouldn't matter to anyone including me.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Sep 17 2019 23:43 utc | 57

@ karlof 48
Your argument makes sense if the US objective is to win. Actually the US objective is to spend lots of money, so the discussion always falls on making the the gigantic budget larger and never on what's being attained with it, which is always military failure, besides the wispy satisfaction that comes from world military and naval involvement. IOW the "defense department" has it ass-backwards, not unusual in government. We should take what they say and believe the opposite. Smedley Butler lives: War IS a racket

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 17 2019 23:54 utc | 58

46 Bien vu ghost ship

Posted by: la bouteille | Sep 17 2019 23:55 utc | 59

Negar Razavi:

In this piece, I want to draw attention to the systemic problem of “Iran expertise” in Washington, which is neither new nor limited to the hawkish political factions now running this country’s foreign policy. I assert that the US foreign policy establishment[i] has collectively created a culture of expert impunity when it comes to Iran, which has contributed in no small part to the unstable and dangerous policy conditions we see under Trump today.


(The Systemic Problem Of “Iran Expertise” In Washington)

Posted by: t r u t h | Sep 17 2019 23:59 utc | 60


You saw the Plunge Protection Team at work.

Posted by: augrr | Sep 18 2019 0:01 utc | 61

JohnH @54--

On the previous thread on this topic, I noted the Houthis didn't specify the types of munitions used or drone type, which at times is a clue as their payload capacity's known. IMO, I doubt the steel containment vessels were hit as shown, that those pics are doctored. An RPG might be able to penetrate, but I'm unaware of Houthi adapting any of their drones to mount and fire such a weapon; they usually drop fragmentation bomblets similar to those in cluster munitions and then directly attack a target kamikaze style. WW2 V-1s were far more powerful "drone"--Buzzbomb. It's likely one or more of the drones had CCTV and transmitter, so Houthi know how well their attack went, but so far they're not telling. Contrary to NATO's terrorists in Idlib, Houthi sophistication of its drones and tactics continue to evolve rapidly.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 18 2019 0:05 utc | 62

JohnH: easily, even small ones* with a small shaped charge. RPG-18 or M72 can depending on which of them and the model punch through between 20, 30, or almost 40 centimeters of steel and that should be more than enough, the pressure vessels are not tanks ...this could have been written as "the tanks are not tanks" :D

* There is a minimum size for drones to be efficient enough to reach the target from a distance unless they're launched next to the target itself so these are unlikely to be small "video" quad-copters to begin with.

A lot less might be used, maybe a "goo-ball" modern re-invention of the UK WWII "sticky-bomb" dropped and adhering to the surface of a structure could be enough (before going boom). Considering the potential energies available in a refinery one might not need explosives at all but only a penetration and ignition source (and thermite could do for both in one go).

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Sep 18 2019 0:16 utc | 63

Andrew J. Bacevich:

"I am not suggesting that Washington is supporting the wrong side in Yemen. I am suggesting, however, that neither side deserves support. Iran may well qualify as America’s “enemy.” But Saudi Arabia is not a “friend,” regardless of how many billions Riyadh spends purchasing American-manufactured weaponry and how much effort Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman invests in courting President Trump and members of his family.

The conviction, apparently widespread in American policy circles, that in the Persian Gulf (and elsewhere) the United States is compelled to take sides, has been a source of recurring mischief. No doubt the escalating rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran poses a danger of further destabilizing the gulf. But the United States is under no obligation to underwrite the folly of one side or the other.

Supporting Iraq in its foolhardy war with Iran in the 1980s proved to be strategically shortsighted in the extreme. It yielded vastly more problems than it solved. It set in train a series of costly wars that have produced negligible benefits. Supporting Saudi Arabia today in its misbegotten war in Yemen is no less shortsighted.

Power confers choice, and the United States should exercise it. We can begin to do so by recognizing that Saudi Arabia’s folly need not be our problem."

(Iran Might Be America’s Enemy, but Saudi Arabia Is No Friend)

Posted by: t r u t h | Sep 18 2019 0:18 utc | 64

Thanks Don Bacon #19, yep that is good material. Iran has a much longer history of managing pawns and vassal states than the USA. So too has Russia. Now replace 'Iran' with 'Israel' and you can recognise the belligerent initiator/oponent of the conflict. Trouble is that Trump is captive of the Israelis (and his petty ego) while being tormented and impoverished by all those countries that the USA invaded at the Israeli's behest.

The dumb oafish response of the USA giant with its five eyes as it stomps about the planet enthralled by prospect of egomaniacle rapture is what endagers humanity. Leave the middle east and everyone else to their own conflict resolution I say.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Sep 18 2019 0:22 utc | 65

Don Bacon @58--

Yeah, I'm reminded--again--of Milo Mindbender's racket in Catch-22, which was 100% greed driven. But we mustn't forget the vaunted Vietnam Syndrome assorted POTUS have set out to quell. Trump just played on that theme today in a portion of his speech I cited. As psychohistorian reported on the open thread, the next round of QE has commenced in an effort to bolster Trump's electability--lots of that money just went to shorting oil. Tomorrow will surely bring forth new revelations, accusations, and denials.

For any barflies in the vicinity, Iran opens "an exhibition of hunted/captured drones in #Tehran from September 22 to October 7" that will draw more than the curious. I'm sure pics will get tweeted.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 18 2019 0:27 utc | 66

Having seen the battle damage photos published online, it seems clear to me that the Houthis are not responsible for this strike. First off, the Houthis claim to have launched only 10 suicide drones...the photos show 17 impact points.

But more importantly, the strike did not just hit the facility, it hit several very specific tanks within the facility, and it hit them with extreme precision. If the Houthis did this, then the Saudis should sue for peace immediately!

No, there seem to be just two plausible scenarios here, either the Iranians struck the Saudi facility themselves (which seems unlikely to me) or the Israelis carried out the strike as part of Bibi's re-election campaign (which seems much more likely). Cui bono?

Posted by: Bob Manley | Sep 18 2019 0:32 utc | 67

The owners of the criminally insane of species human, are criminally insane. The "fleshtrading" began in Persia a long time ago. House of Dracula~Rothschild paid 3 million in gold to a faux Persian "Prince". USA vassal of Israeli criminals who are completely insane, clearly, what a total maniacal genocidal tragedy. We are humans living on a small earth planet. Time to grow our consciousness into an enlightenment. A matter of must.

Posted by: BiloxiMarxKelly | Sep 18 2019 0:40 utc | 68

@67 bob manley... the flaw in your logic is that drones can hold more then 1 missile...

Posted by: james | Sep 18 2019 0:43 utc | 69

Been following your blog for many many years MOA. LOVE YOUR WORK! An artiste who has been arrested x2, thrown in jail and tortured x2, for blowing the whistle in 2003, til 2013. Checkmate has happened whew!

Posted by: BiloxiMarxKelly | Sep 18 2019 0:45 utc | 70

re vk | Sep 17 2019 21:10 utc
...In 2001, drones were just a distant dream...

In 2002, did an ASAP job at a Chevron terminal that finished on-time and e/one pleased. A fellow worker skilled in making/flying a single-blade helo wireless drone took 'er up maybe 100 ft with abt 5 lbs of camera gear, positioned, focused and and shot us tradesmen in group picture.

Stunning! The drone had maybe a 5 ft blade. Prior to the shoot, flew it vert and horiz w rapid directional changes under and over elec tower wires. It obviously could handle much greater payload at less performance. Power was liquid fuel; piston or turbine[?].

It was unmistakable then, within hours, for this tech tradesman to know what was coming was unstoppable. It was already in the realm of high-school hobbyists. It qualified as a global game-changer, for better or worse, but certainly inevitable. Only later heard the expression "Black Swan".

P.S. Days later saw an "advanced" model of digital cam in operation.

Posted by: chu teh | Sep 18 2019 0:46 utc | 71

Bob Manley @67--

"Cui Bono?" you ask. Houthis as this exerts further pressure on Saudi to cease their aggressive war against them. This attack is the second in a series that will continue until the Houthi's objective is reached. Note there was no similar Hew and Cry from the first attack. This second success showed beyond doubt the inability of the Outlaw US Empire to defend its ally as was discussed on the previous thread on this topic. And if you read the Houthi Media announcement I linked to above, you'll discover the Houthis will soon attack similar facilities within UAE.

By the looks of things, Nuttyahoo's on his way out of government and likely into jail for corruption. And as explained on the previous thread, the short term rise in oil price did nothing for Saudi and actually hurt its financial condition. Have a nice evening!

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 18 2019 0:55 utc | 72

What missing from the discussion of the Houthi strike against Abqaig is that these are long 'pipelines' of continuous chemical processes that must be gradually started up in sequence, and if necessary taken down in the same way.

The idea that after KSA was forced to suddenly take more than 50% of their petrochemical output offline as a result of the disastrous missile attack, they could start them up again like flipping a light switch, is pure propaganda.

The attack is as much about spiking the long touted sellout of Aramco to foreign interests than anything else. And indeed that must have been one the major strategic considerations that motivated the attack.

Posted by: iota | Sep 18 2019 0:58 utc | 73

re drones: During WW2 worn-out B17s were being used as drones with CCTV and wireless transmission to operators somewhat remote. Take-off needed 2 pilots aboard who would parachute out as remote operator took over. Mostly was not workable due to control failures. See Operation Aphrodite, etc.

Re current scene. I want to believe the Houthis but have not seen 1 pic of real damage. Even the "fires" seem deliberately set as they are next to infrastructure. Convenient pic of mini-turbine stuff laying in the sands is hardly even cute.

No bomb craters, no responder chaos, "impossible" orientation of alleged hits... nota single, unequivocal photo of random damage or clearly deliberate target destruction. Purported Houthi claims do not align with on-scene images.

But no doubt that 2-bit drone weapons have arrived with virtually unlimited types of payloads and quality teenager skills. The potential trained-pidgeon-pecking pilot has arrived in the form of a tiny circuit board with star-acquisition inputs and 5-second,nano-power final corrections.

And things are going to get wilder and wilder, guaranteed [by me].

Posted by: chu teh | Sep 18 2019 1:29 utc | 74

SunnyBurger @63: OK. So these are vessels not tanks. And the Houthis had an explosive device that could penetrate. Wouldn't there be large burn marks, soot, and warping of the walls after an intense fire? The processing train seems to have a lot of soot on the ground, but there is nothing on the containment tanks.

For my money, someone could just as easily have painted large, black spots on the containment vessels to simulate punctures. How would satellites differentiate?

At this point, it seems that there may well have been a successful Houthi attack that was greatly magnified in terms of impact for the evening news. After all, the Saudis are saying the production will be restored by the end of the month. And the markets have barely blinked. Yawn.

Posted by: JohnH | Sep 18 2019 1:31 utc | 75

Puncturing a containment tank with a small yield explosive would be similar to operating a propane/butane blow-torch. The pressure of the released gasses upon puncture would either completely extinguish any flame or the gasses would ignite but burn 20-30 feet away from the tanks themselves. The flame would not follow the gasses back into the tank, as the pressure of the exiting gasses would prevent that.

So, no, you wouldn't have an intense fire, nor large burn marks nor warping of the walls, you would have pretty much what you see in the satellite images.

That said, the media has been exaggerating the long-term effects of the Houthi's strike. The precision and range is impressive, and serves to warn against continued aggression, but with such small yield explosive devices, the long-term damage isn't going to be that great.

Posted by: Hassaan | Sep 18 2019 1:46 utc | 76

Seems to me that a total focus on offense is what it takes to create an empire: conquest, subjugation, control are essential stepping stones to empire status. Once there, any potential challenge, disloyalty, stepping out of line has to be met with aggression to maintain the status quo.

As there will be no viable opposition, why be concerned about defense. That at least is the theory. In the case of Russia and China the empire was asleep at the switch and by the time this was realised it was too late to contain them, especially as they are joined at the hip in their opposition. End of empire.

Posted by: augrr | Sep 18 2019 1:48 utc | 77

I have to agree with Paul Roberts that Israel is the only likely attacker of KSA.
The attack occurred the day before their election, and incumbents always benefit from war fever, so this was made by and for Netanyahu. Like the fake Syria chemical weapons attacks, made just when inspectors were visiting Syria, this is obviously a false-flag attack by an enemy of Iran, and it certainly was not KSA or UAE. That leaves Israel, the only candidate that would benefit.

Others will recall that the fake Iraq-WMD scandal was made entirely by zionists: DefSec Wolfowitz installed known Israeli agents Perle, Wurmser, and Feith to run the offices at CIA, DIA, and NSA that “stove-piped” known-bad WMD “intelligence” directly to Cheney and Bush to start a war for Israel. All three of them had worked to convince Netanyahu himself to trick the US into a war for Israel. After exposure of the scam they were all given medals by Israel, as was Pollard, their spy who stole nearly all US nuclear weapons secrets and gave them to Israel, which sold them to the USSR. With friends like Israel and KSA, who needs enemies?

Posted by: JBrant | Sep 18 2019 1:50 utc | 78

@31 karlof1

That's one hell of a news report - thank you!

So, Yemen has determined that UAE has betrayed its announced intention to quit the Yemen invasion, and persists with its deliberate starvation strategy:

The head of the Yemeni negotiating delegation, Mohammed Abdulsalam, [said:] "the UAE continued its siege of Ad-durayhimi and through its mercenaries prevents the entry of humanitarian aid to civilians trapped for more than a year and a half despite the human rights and humanitarian appeals."

Yes indeed, for such treacherous and cruel behavior, the UAE does indeed deserve what's about to happen to it:
Abdulsalam: Decision Made, Military to Strike UAE Depth; More Than Ever, UAE Deserved to be Targeted

Abdulsalam said that there never was an agreement with UAE to exclude it from attacks, but Yemen did give it time to prove its word in wanting to quit the theater. It proved faithless to its word. He stated that the formal decision has been made, and the military will strike at a time and place of its choosing.

Posted by: Grieved | Sep 18 2019 2:13 utc | 79

@b - "Iran has thereby plausible deniability when attacks like the recent one on Abquiq happen. That Iran supplied drones with 1,500 kilometer reach to its allies in Yemen means that its allies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq and elsewhere have access to similar means."

I read the Tyler Rogoway WarZone article you linked to, and it was the first time I'd seen the concept that Iran "has built a plausible deniability environment" for itself, but I think Rogoway is missing a serious point. If Iran has such deniability, I don't think this exists by contrivance. I think the truth of the situation has created such plausible deniability, if in fact such a thing even exists, or if such a thing is even desired by Iran or any of its allies.

I would like to offer a more nuanced view of the relationship between Iran and its allies. Specifically regarding your view that Iran's allies are "willing to act on Iran's behalf should the need arise."

I get the impression that it's more a case that all these allies see themselves in the same existential position, and have developed, and are continuing to refine, an "all for one and one for all" approach to the regional security of all the sovereign allies.

Sharmine Narwani explained this very thing in her recent interview with Ross Ashcroft, where she said that if one of the allies is attacked by the US or Israel, all of the allies will join in immediately and without reservation, because for each of them it is the same existential threat:
What’s the real plan with Iran?

And the interview you link to by Nader Talebzadeh with IRGC General Amir Ali Hajizadeh concludes with the general's statement that " Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen; now Muslims are all a coalition standing next to each other".
How likely is the possibility of a military conflict between Iran and the US?


I'm not trying to split hairs here, but it strikes me as important to note that these countries have moved on from being isolated, and are in fact in a coalition, albeit still coalescing. Their militaries have trained together and established joint command centers in recent times.

As the general explained, when the threat of attack by the US seemed imminent - at the time Iran downed the drone - Iran was fully prepared to attack and destroy several US bases. One hopes that the Pentagon can understand that any attack on one of these members of the coalition will be met with a coordinated and unreserved response by all allies.

Given such a geopolitical situation now throughout the region, the concept of Iran's having "plausible deniability" for other countries to act on its behalf seems too narrow a view. And this is why all the fevered discussion about who "owns" the Houthi strike is missing the main strategic point that the whole region "owns" it - and why it is sufficient that the Houthi did in fact act alone, but not alone, because none of these forces is now alone. It is, one gathers, a brotherly coalition that has formed and is becoming yet stronger

So it need not be the case that everything flows from Iran, or revolves around Iran. The whole region is now the steel trap not to step on.

Posted by: Grieved | Sep 18 2019 2:54 utc | 80

Grieved @ 80

Excellent point very well stated.

Posted by: donkeytale | Sep 18 2019 3:16 utc | 81

PeterUA @37 AND Sunny Runny Burger @50:

I agree that Netanyahu has no idea what diplomacy looks like. But Putin never said anything about not knowing who was going to win the elections. He didn't say the diplomatic thing like, 'of course I can't speak on the Democratic elections upcoming in Israel'. Instead, he basically said that nearly 20% of the population of Israel are russians and that all the russian MPs should be treated like Netanyahu has always treated them. This part, "1.5 million former Soviet citizens live in Israel. We have always considered them our people, our compatriots. Naturally, we are not indifferent as regards future Israeli MPs, let me be straight about this." That part sounds to me as if Putin is saying that Russia is vastly represented in Israel and Putin is not indifferent to how many future MPs will be russian-isreali. Then he accepted Netanyahu's invitation to Israel after the elections, in January, which to me is pretty much an endorsement in diplomatic language. The proper thing would have been not to mention Netanyahu's invitation.

Posted by: SharonM | Sep 18 2019 3:19 utc | 82

John Bolton !

If there was an element of false-flag to the recent attack upon Saudi oil processing then it was not planned overnight.
John Bolton was ousted only a week ago so planning of the false flag likely took place during his tenure.

Posted by: librul | Sep 18 2019 3:26 utc | 83

Plausible deniability.
"Unanimously adopting resolution 2456 (2019), the 15-member organ, acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, also reaffirmed the provisions on an arms embargo imposed in April 2015 against the Houthi rebel group and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and his son Ahmed Ali Saleh."

Yemen military and the Houthi's are limited to what they can smuggle in. US and its proxies have imposed a total blockade, but if they did turn up weapons or components designed specifically for military use, they could then use this at the UN.
Zarif is running rings around the US diplomatically, so I doubt Iran are going to risk getting caught acting against the UN embargo.
So Yemen is limited by what it can smuggle in, and this will be military components that cannot be traced back to Iran, or duel use components.
I doubt Yemen will be able to put together the number or size of weapons (drones cruise missiles) required to do a great deal of destruction to a major facility. The effect will be more on making the Saudi's and co unreliable oil suppliers which will cause their customers look elsewhere, and for the Saudi's, the hardest hit might be on the share price at their expected public listing.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 18 2019 3:28 utc | 84

@ Grieved 80
Add Taliban, currently taking back Afghanistan, to that list of Iran allies. Iran has a presence in western Afghanistan supporting Taliban against the US occupiers and its puppet government.
news report:
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran held talks with a delegation from Afghanistan’s Taliban, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, a week after peace talks between the United States and the Islamist insurgents collapsed.//

So the main reason that Washington hates Tehran has nothing to do with Israel, it is that the US Operation Iraqi Freedom converted Iraq from an Iran enemy to an ally, then add Syria and the others, and Iran has replaced the US in the Middle East and add Afghanistan. The Carter Doctrine is dead! Washington hates that.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18 2019 3:30 utc | 85

The export of the Iranian 'Islamic' revolution, and foundation of the 'Resistance Axis' are not solely predicated on the production and distribution of military hardware. What has made the Iranian ruling class so successful in forging those alliances and ties with other marginalized or previously marginalized groups, is the manufacturing of a particular ideology. The clergy, along with the IRGC, produced and borrowed ideas (from for example Ali Shariati and Mahmoud Taleqani) that are a mix of Shi'a Islam and Marxism during the late 1970s and especially 1980s war with Iraq.

Posted by: ninel | Sep 18 2019 3:34 utc | 86

Russia has now met with the Taliban a number of times also. Most recent only a few days ago.
"Taliban delegation visits Russia after Trump says talks 'dead'"

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 18 2019 3:40 utc | 87

Ideology hasn't barred Iran from alliances with Sunni groups including Hamas and Taliban.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18 2019 3:45 utc | 88

China also has ties with Taliban. Everybody lives a winner.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18 2019 3:47 utc | 89

loves, that is

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18 2019 3:48 utc | 90

The abyss yawned ...

Well it just goes to show, Things
are not what they seem ...

µ“Departed from berth 264 previous with tracking turned off. Lay doggo off berth 46 all morning.”

... "You’re seeing this warning because there has been some unusual activity from this account. ...

ð“lol. That's a flagrant lie. Proof is in the pudding.”

§“Had a look around Twitter help center. Meanwhile, Canadians are having ‘Healthy Conversations’. Bah-ha-ha. Not surprised by the smoke in here, btw.”

Posted by: Laurence | Sep 18 2019 3:55 utc | 91

Grieved @80--

It's known as Collective Security and stands as NATO doctrine now also Arc of Resistance Doctrine. That already existing reality is why Russia's Persian Gulf Collective Security proposal made imminent sense. The Outlaw US Empire ought to have little trouble is understanding that doctrine since it stands at the heart of NATO--and its implications. I've mentioned this aspect of the Arc of Resistance before, but it's never been discussed in-depth. Clearly, this is also something very hard to discuss/admit by the Outlaw US Empire or its vassals, just as its rather embarrassing defensive shortcomings cannot easily be admitted despite their overtness. In many respects, I don't think those within the Current Oligarchy are mature enough to handle this situation. They've been beaten at their own power game but don't know it.

Trump will do nothing because he can't. Events will move forward in their current context until the next attack occurs, and the current charade will likely be repeated. And onward until the Houthis achieve their goal of ending the war being waged upon them and reunifying their nation.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 18 2019 3:58 utc | 92

NBC, Sep 17

American intelligence indicates that the attack on a major Saudi oil facility originated from Iran, three people familiar with the intelligence told NBC News — an assessment that is likely to escalate tensions between Washington and Tehran.
A congressional source says Democrats familiar with the details do not dispute that the attack was carried out by Iran — an important signal of bipartisan agreement amid great uncertainty about claims made by the Trump administration.
Three U.S. officials said there was extremely compelling evidence showing the origination point of the strikes, and one official with direct knowledge described that evidence as imagery. . .here

"described that evidence as imagery."
Imagery is language used by poets, novelists and other writers to create images in the mind of the reader. Imagery includes figurative and metaphorical language to improve the reader’s experience through their senses.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18 2019 4:00 utc | 93

@ karlof
Trump will do nothing because he can't.
Indications are that Trump is trying to get Saudi to do the heavy lifting and attack Iran. Good luck on that.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18 2019 4:03 utc | 94

Sabbatianism And The Hidden Hand Behind 9/11 - David Icke

Posted by: Aziz | Sep 18 2019 4:19 utc | 95

Trump answering questions from the press. Bahrain just bought a patriot system ... around the eight minute mark, Trump give the terms on which the US will defend the Saudi's. Payment. Saudi's want US protection, then it is full retail price in cash. No mates rates.
Saudi's must be feeling under the weather at the moment. Houthi's hitting them where it hurts, US enhancing the hurt with their sat images, then Trump demanding cash up front for protection.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 18 2019 4:19 utc | 96


three people familiar with the intelligence told NBC News

no any official statement?

Posted by: Jack | Sep 18 2019 4:26 utc | 97

Peter AU 1 @84--

Houthis have lots of raw materials thanks to the destruction wrought on their nation--scrap materials of all sorts. What they've gained as we've discussed are the plans for their drones and missiles as they require nothing else. They have their own technicians, machine shops and factories, all well hidden by now to escape Saudi bombing. IMO, Houthis are certainly capable of building more advanced and destructive weapons. As I wrote @92, the Outlaw US Empire has lost but doesn't know it yet. The war will continue until it ends--or Trump could end it tomorrow, although he might not have any say in that decision.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 18 2019 4:28 utc | 98

Iran IRGC Gen. Hajizadeh makes it clear about a response to a US attack on Iran, including against ships at sea. . .youtube here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18 2019 4:30 utc | 99

@ 96
The tiny island of Bahrain is especially vulnerable. It is the HQ of the Fifth Fleet and there are many Navy families there -- here's their Facebook page.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 18 2019 4:40 utc | 100

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