If Iran Is Responsible for Saudi Attack, So What? US Is Waging Undeclared War

It would have been entirely justified

The Saudis encouraged Trump to tear apart the nuclear deal

The stunning success of Saturday’s drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s main oil export processing center has brought the Iran crisis to a new and pivotal point. It has demonstrated that Iran has significant capability to pressure the United States to end its war on the Iranian economy, and has the will to bring it to the next level.

A set of complex issues related to different Iranian and Houthi weapons systems and other forensic evidence surrounding the destruction at Abqaiq will be the center of attention in the coming days. The forensic evidence presented by the administration may be weak or persuasive, but in either case, it would be a strategic mistake for those who oppose the war in Yemen and America’s involvement in it to make this the story. That will only allow the war state to obscure or confuse the central political issues that must be addressed now: why did this attack happen? And what does it portend for a situation that was already one small crisis away from a very serious Middle East war?

Whether the Abqiaq attack was a combined Houthi-Iranian operation or a completely Iranian one is of a secondary measure of importance. It is obvious that whatever the precise nature of the strike, Iran likely played a role in both creating the drones and/or cruise missiles involved and in the strategic rationale for it. But one can argue that both the Houthis and Iran had legitimate reasons for carrying out such a strike.

For the Houthis, it was to force Saudi Arabia to stop its systematic war on the civilian population in the Houthi-controlled zone of Yemen and its denial of its ability to obtain basic goods by air and sea; for the Iranians it was to force the United States to end its blockade of Iran’s economy through pressure on Iran’s customers. Saudi Arabia has violated the most fundamental principles of international law in its aggressive war to change the regime in Yemen, since it was not under attack by the Houthis when it launched that war. Efforts to end the conflict through resistance, negotiation, and strikes on lesser targets in Saudi Arabia had failed to halt what has been broadly regarded around the world as a criminal war.

For Iran, on the other hand, the Abqiaq strike was an absolutely necessary step to signal to the United States that it cannot not continue its assault on the Iranian economy without very serious repercussions. And the timing of the strike is almost certainly the result of the sequence of aggressive, offensive U.S. moves against Iran’s most vital interests ever since the Trump administration tore up the deal on Iran’s nuclear program and reimposed U.S. sanctions.

The United States has carried the practice of secondary boycott (sanctions against states trading with a state the U.S. government has targeted as an enemy) to put pressure on Iranian policy for nearly a quarter century, beginning with the passage of the Iran Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) in 1996. Now the Trump administration has pushed the use of that instrument to its ultimate conclusion by seeking to reduce Iran’s oil exports—its single largest source of export earnings—to “zero,” as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proudly declared last April.

The administration further plans to reduce Iran’s gas and metal (iron, steel, aluminum, and copper) exports to a minimum as well. In his public presentation of the famous “12 demands” on Iran of May 2018, Pompeo said that the real purpose of the entire exercise was to force the Iranian people to rid the United States of the adversary regime in Tehran. 

The Trump policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran thus represents an extreme violation of a state’s right to participate in the global economy, without which a modern state cannot survive. It is the equivalent in trade terms of a naval blockade to starve a nation, and it would be universally recognized as an act of war if carried out by any other state in the world. Iran calls it “economic terrorism.”

In the context of these larger legal and moral issues, the question of the respective roles of Iran and the Houthis in the strike is a matter not just of tactical and propaganda significance but of fundamental principle. The shutdown of Abqiaq is the clearest signal possible from Islamic Republic that, as it has stated on several occasions, if the United States insists on depriving it from being able to sell oil, it will not allow the rest of the world’s oil to pass through the Strait of Hormuz.  

The Aqiaq strike is also a dramatic demonstration of Iran’s ability to surprise the United States strategically and upsetting its political-military plans. Iran has spent the last two decades preparing for an eventual confrontation with the United States, and the result is a new generation of drones and cruise missiles that give Iran the ability to counter far more effectively any U.S. effort to destroy its military assets and to target U.S. bases across the Middle East.

The United States was apparently taken by surprise when when Iran shot down a high-altitude but slow-moving U.S. prototype naval variant of the 737-size Global Hawk surveillance drone with a 3rd Khordad missile variant of the Ra’ad surface to air missile system first deployed a few years ago. And Iran’s air defense system has been continually upgraded, beginning with the Russian S-300 system it received in 2016. Iran also just unveiled in 2019 its Bavar-373 air defense system, which it regards as closer to the Russian S-400 system coveted by India and Turkey than to the S-300 system.

Then there is Iran’s development of a fleet of military drones, which has prompted one analyst to call Iran a “drone superpower.” Its drone accomplishments reportedly include the Shahed-171 “stealth drone” with precision-guided missiles, and the Shahed-129, which it reverse engineered from the U.S. Sentinel RQ-170 and the MQ-1 Predator.

Iran has exaggerated its military technological accomplishments in the past, especially when it felt dangerously vulnerable. But analysts are taking this generation of Iranian systems very seriously, which they see as having far-reaching implications for American policy. It’s highly questionable that anyone has given Trump a briefing on that reality, however.

The urgent task for opponents of any coming war is not to be distracted by the issue of forensic evidence pointing to Iranian responsibility. It’s to focus on the urgent problems with American policy that are being swept under the political and media rug.

Source: The American Conservative

  1. Linda Wren says

    When all said & done Saudi wanted higher prices the others in that pact didn’t agree & lo n behold they are ‘attacked’. A happy coincidence or what?

  2. ArcAngel says

    Even Mr Porter is jumping on the “Iran did it” bandwagon, although very well hidden in a “so what” scenario.
    The rest was just ‘justification” IF Iran did it. Then the article carries on as if Iran did indeed supply and pull off this attack. Clever writing.
    Maybe the Persians did, maybe they didn’t.
    This is Oil, the world’s life blood, and this is the realm of International Skullduggery, backstabbing, terrorism, war, murder and mayhem, in this regard, ANYONE could have pull off these attacks, including the House of Saud itself.
    One think is for sure… I do not trust one syllable spewed by the demonic Saudi cabal.
    So in this regard I guess we Humans will never know who actually pulled off this attack.
    But one thing is guaranteed, more war is coming.

  3. John C Carleton says

    Iran, (Persia), which USA intelligence said for over forty years, was not trying to build a nuke, has not attacked anyone who did not first attack Persia, (Iran), in almost 300 years.

    UK, USA, Israhell, France, Germany, NATO, EU, can not say the same.

    If Iran Attacked Saudi, it was a retaliatory strike for Saudi trying to get the USA, just like Israhell tries to get the USA, to take Iran out for them.

    You will remember, there have been a lot of Iranians died fighting the zionist evil of ISIS and ISIS master, Israhell/Saudi/USA/NATO/EU/Ratschilds, in Syria.

    Take the other half of their production out, starve the evil fever which is the zionist fake “royals’ of Saudi.

  4. JustPassingThrough says

    When is the other 50% of the Sow-dee oil complex going to go up in smoke?

  5. Dale Ferguson says

    The US is sending more Useless air defense systems and Comfort ponies (goats) to the Saudis. The Elites have line up for the Cuddly (goats)!

    1. Hugh says

      You are a “Red Blooded” ( aka a blood thirsty commie) jerk posing under a fictitious name. You might respond to the name Vladimir or Leonid but certainly not Dale.

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