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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FKA-Realist @306--

You owe vk an apology for totally misreading his comment. What the Russian in question provided was the disposition of air defenses along Saudi's Northern border that did nothing because they saw nothing. The reality is that in a region with the highest concentration of detection radiation emanating from the land, sea, and sky that NO EVIDENCE of Iranian involvement can be shown because there wasn't any. But, there's likely quite a lot of evidence tracking the Houthi drones that can't be revealed as that overturns the attempted Big Lie.

Do note that Pompeo has left for home saying they'll be no war, with an attempt to be made for peace.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 19 2019 17:47 utc | 301

I actually came here to offer a link to Federico Pieraccini's latest piece:

Saudi Arabia up in Flames: Riyadh Is Headed for a Major Disaster

He deconstructs the case for a false flag by eliminating the various cui bono's we've seen touted, and makes the really logical point that a false flag was not necessary, if this had been an objective, because the western MSM was and is quite capable of making this the dominant narrative if it chooses.

Back to more concrete reality, Pieraccini points out that Houthi attacks on Saudi infrastructure are not a new thing, but have been an escalating thing - on an almost daily basis, he states. Also that while the US defensive systems have failed to interdict this (and other) attacks, the Russian defensive system in Syria have achieved 100% success rate against all manner of such incursive attacks.

It's clear that the world notices this. Pepe Escobar yesterday claimed that the entire global South has observed what the Houthi just did, and took note - and since he's been traveling like a madman for weeks now all over the world, I would accept his sense of that reality.

Posted by: Grieved | Sep 19 2019 17:53 utc | 302

An excellent FYI history lesson provided by Partisan Girl/Syrian Girl on the Levant. She begins thusly:

"12,000 years ago the Natufians were the first humans to build settlements, the first to claim ownership of land. True natives. 12000 years ago they built the settlement that became #Syria's #Aleppo.

"This was over 10,000 years before nomadic Israelite tribes invaded the levant."

Do note the commenter provided German map of the Fertile Crescent down thread as its Western arc is often omitted.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 19 2019 17:58 utc | 303

@308 karlof1

By the way, I've taken your helpful advice from an earlier thread, and I searched the site for that alias before making my comment, and found no previous posts. I thought I'd check - your advice was welcome, and thanks - despite the automatic disqualifying behavior of the ad hominem attack on a real commenter.

Posted by: Grieved | Sep 19 2019 18:00 utc | 304

Good day Grieved! I read his essay and heartily endorse your highlights. After reading Pepe's essay yesterday, I was finally motivated enough to use my wife's Facebook page to access his and provide a comment to which he replied. Yes, he certainly reads MoA and calls the comment section "the best around," which is nice praise. Judging by his FB page, Pepe's most certainly a writing machine, and I'll have to frequent it more often.

As I noted above, Pompeo's headed for home, clearly ordered by Trump to seek peace instead of drum up a war. So far today, Houthi Media's been rather quiet. Looks like Team B has swapped out one B for another as Nuttyahoo won't be part of the next Zionist regime.

Just saw your 311, and you're most welcome! Hopefully it will retreat from whence it came.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 19 2019 18:14 utc | 305

In the movie "Bridge of Spies," we see the pilots being fed a bunch of stats about 75k foot and push this button to the MAX (Boeing-made?), promise-crammed, and then the next scene, short & quite well done, the only action in the movie, is powers' plane having the shit blown out of it.

been misunderestimating the red strategery & dohowitiveness for a long ass time. for at least a hunnert years. maybe longer.

Posted by: w's yale classmate | Sep 20 2019 1:18 utc | 306

Or they could try using diplomacy

Posted by: Michael | Sep 20 2019 13:40 utc | 307

Grieved and Karlof1

Pieraccini's proposed 'false-flag' is nothing like what has been dicussed here at MoA.

I haven't seen ANYONE at MoA dispute that the Houthi's attacked the Saudi oil installation.

What has been discussed at MoA is possibility that the damage was deliberated manipulated to look like the attack was more technologically sophisticated than the Houthi are capable of. This could be accomplished via charges set soon after the attack. Naturally, the purpose of such manipulation would be to finger Iran for the attack.

Allowing an attack to happen and then causing more destruction immediately afterward is exactly what "conspiracy theorists" believe may have happened in the 9-11 attacks.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 20 2019 14:40 utc | 308

Why do we still have people here repeating the nonsense about some Saudis carrying out 9/11. Some of these "hijackers" were still alive and in their own country.

The reality is that Israel carried out these demolitions of 3 buildings. It took months of work to plant the explosives and small nuclear weapons were used on the two larger buildings.

Look at the videos. Stuff does not just fly upwards and sideways without an opposing force. That is elementary. It is Newton's Laws of Motion.

"9/11 Was an Israeli Job"

Posted by: Alfred | Sep 24 2019 2:38 utc | 309

Q: "Who says the far left is against transparency?"

Andrea Mitchell , @mitchellreports:

" On whether Senators would vote for impeachment, @murphymike says, 'One Republican senator told me if it was a secret vote, 30 Republican senators would vote to impeach Trump' "

A: "A secret impeachment vote - you can't get much more transparent than that, can you?"

Posted by: lambda | Sep 25 2019 21:50 utc | 310

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