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Saudi says unclear when oil output will return to normal after ‘massive’ damage

Press TV – September 15, 2019

An informed Saudi source says the damages inflicted on the Aramco oil facilities in the recent Yemeni drone attacks are so massive that it is not clear when the country’s oil output can return to normal.

Attacks by 10 Yemeni drones on Saudi Arabia’s key oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais have shut down about 50 percent of the kingdom’s crude and gas production, cutting the state oil giant’s crude oil supply by around 5.7 million barrels per day.

An oil industry source briefed on the developments said on Sunday it is unclear how long the oil production shutdown will continue, as it is impossible to fix the “big” damages overnight.

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

Another source briefed on the developments said the kingdom’s oil exports would continue to run as normal this week thanks to large storage in the country.

High-resolution satellite photos of the damaged facilities “declassified” by the US administration on Sunday show the drone attacks have hit at least 19 points with great precision.

A senior US official, asked not to be named, has claimed that evidence shows the launch area was west-northwest of the targets – the direction of Iran and Iraq – not south from Yemen.

The official has also quoted Saudi officials as saying that there are signs that cruise missiles were used in the attack.

This comes as Yemen has clearly stated it used 10 drones for Saturday’s operation, which was one of their largest retaliatory attacks ever inside the kingdom.

Earlier in the day, Tehran dismissed the US’ claim of Iranian involvement in the drone attacks, saying “futile allegations and blind statements as such are incomprehensible and meaningless within the framework of diplomacy.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said such remarks “seem more like a plot being hatched by secret and intelligence organizations aimed at tarnishing a country’s image and setting the stage for future actions.”

He also criticized Saudi Arabia for fueling the flames of war in the region by committing various war crimes in Yemen for about five years, and hailed Yemen for putting up resistance in the face of the aggression.

Iraq has also denied reports alleging that the country was the site from where Yemeni drones were launched to attack Saudi oil installations.

The statement came from Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s office on Sunday. It said Iraq would act “decisively” if anyone tried to use its territory to attack other countries, AP reported.

September 15, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 7 Comments

Who stabbed Sirhan Sirhan, and by the way who killed Bobby Kennedy?

By Jay Jackson | Big News Network  | September 1, 2019

SAN DIEGO, California – Sirhan Sirhan, the man alleged to have assassinated Robert Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968 continues to recover in hospital after being stabbed by a fellow inmate on Friday.

Sirhan, a Christian, was convicted of slaying Kennedy, however there is considerable evidence that he was not responsible for the late attorney general’s death.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation issued a statement late Friday indicating a prisoner at the Richard J Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, had been stabbed and said “officers responded quickly” to the attack.

The statement said the victim of the stabbing was in stable condition.

Sirhan was originally sentenced to death but that sentence was later commuted to life in prison after Sirhan agreed, on his lawyer Grant Cooper’s advice, to admit to the shooting, even though he did not remember it. Cooper, who was widely criticised for this tactic, and for not investigating the crime, had offered the jury the concession to sway the jury from recommending the death sentence for his client.

Sirhan, an exercise boy at racetracks and a stock clerk and delivery boy at a health food store, at the time, and to this day, says he has no recollection of shooting Kennedy, and was badly advised by his legal counsel.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest Sirhan did not fire the fatal shot.

Kennedy was shot at point-blank range from behind, the bullet piercing just below his ear. The autopsy performed by Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner Thomas Noguchi concluded the gun had been fired no more than one or 2 inches from Kennedy. Sirhan, however, a 24-year-old Palestinian immigrant on a Jordanian passport, was standing several feet in front of him and shooting indiscriminately.

Another problem for Sirhan’s legal team was that they were only provided with the autopsy report well into the trial.

Just as there is significant doubt about the killer of his brother John Kennedy in Dallas, Texas in 1963, Robert Kennedy’s death too has been clouded with speculation.

It has been suggested Sirhan may have been subjected to coercive hypnosis, in a real-life version of “The Manchurian Candidate.” Several witnesses said he was in a trance-like state. It is known that well into the 1960s the CIA had a project in operation that was in full experimentation mode whereby individuals were being hypnotised and instructed to carry out actions in a waking state, and to say things that would be compatible with the actions they were instructed to undertake.

Other evidence to throw doubt on Sirhan’s role in the assassination is that a number of witnesses swore that up to 13 shots were fired at the time, when Sirhan’s gun only held eight bullets.

Robert Kennedy Jnr., a lawyer, who was just 14 when his father was assassinated, says he harbours doubts about Sirhan’s guilt. He recently visited him in prison.

“I went there because I was curious and disturbed by what I had seen in the evidence,” he told The Washington Post. “I was disturbed that the wrong person might have been convicted of killing my father. My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country. I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.”

Kennedy has called for a reinvestigation of the assassination.

His sister, former Maryland lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, is now expressing doubts, too. “Bobby makes a compelling case,” she told The Washington Post. “I think the investigation should be reopened.”

Paul Schrade, who was in the Kennedy entourage and who was shot while walking behind him still remembers the night. “He immediately started shaking hands,” with kitchen workers, he said of Kennedy. “The TV lights went on. I got hit. I didn’t know I was hit. I was shaking violently, and I fell. Then Bob fell. I saw flashes and heard crackling. The crackling actually was all the other bullets being fired.”

Witnesses reported that Kennedy said, “Is everybody okay? Is Paul all right?”

Schrade when he recovered tried to set the record straight. Since 1974 he has been trying to get the case reopened. “Yes, he did shoot me. Yes, he shot four other people and aimed at Kennedy,” Schrade said in an interview with The Washington Post. “The important thing is he did not shoot Robert Kennedy. Why didn’t they go after the second gunman? They knew about him right away. They didn’t want to know who it was. They wanted a quickie.”

“I’m interested in finding out how the prosecutor convicted Sirhan with no evidence, knowing there was a second gunman,” Schrade said.

As with Lee Harvey Oswald, everything was down pat for the LAPD when Kennedy went down. Sirhan confessed to the killing at trial (he claims this was done on his lawyer’s instruction). He took hours of target practice with his pistol earlier in the day, and he had the gun with him when he went into the Ambassador Hotel that night. He had been seen at a Kennedy speech at the Ambassador two days earlier. He had a newspaper clipping critical of Kennedy in his pocket and had written “RFK must die” repetitively in notebooks found at his home, none of which he had any recollection of. And he waited in the pantry for about 30 minutes, according to witnesses who said he asked if Kennedy would be coming through there. With five wounded victims, and Kennedy having been shot 3 times, that accounted for the eight bullets in Sirhan’s gun. Game, set and match.

Witnesses however said bullet holes were found in the door frames of the Ambassador Hotel’s pantry, and photos showed investigators examining the holes in the hours after the shooting. This would imply there was a second shooter. Lead crime scene investigator DeWayne Wolfer said at the time the holes were not bullet holes, and the doors had since been destroyed.

“Though Los Angeles authorities had promised transparency in the case, the police and prosecutors refused to release their files until 1988, when they produced a flood of new evidence for researchers,” The Washington Post said in its report.

“Among the material was an audiotape, first unearthed by CNN journalist Brad Johnson, which had been inadvertently made by Polish journalist Stanislaw Pruszynski in the Ambassador Hotel’s ballroom, and turned over to police in 1969.”

“Pruszynski’s microphone had been on the podium where Kennedy spoke, and TV footage shows him detaching it and moving toward the pantry as the shooting happens,” the Post report says.

“In 2005, audio engineer Philip Van Praag said the tape revealed that about 13 shots had been fired. He said he used technology similar to that of the ShotSpotter used by police to alert them to gunshots, and which differentiates gunshots from firecrackers or other loud bangs.”

Van Praag said mid-last year that different guns create different resonances and that he was able to establish that two guns were fired, that they fired in different directions, and that some of the shot “impulses” were so close together they couldn’t have been fired by the same gun. He said he could not say “precisely” 13 shots but certainly more than the eight contained by Sirhan’s gun,” said The Washington Post report.

“There were too many bullets,” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said. “You can’t fire 13 shots out of an eight-shot gun.”

He described Sirhan’s trial as “really a penalty hearing. It wasn’t a real trial. At a full trial, they would have litigated his guilt or innocence. I think it’s unfortunate that the case never went to a full trial because that would have compelled the press and prosecutors to focus on the glaring discrepancies in the narrative that Sirhan fired the shots that killed my father.”

Kennedy told the Post he was asleep in his dorm at Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Md., on June 5, 1968, when a priest woke him and told there was a car waiting outside to take him to the family home, Hickory Hill, in McLean, Va. The priest didn’t say why.

In his memoir, “American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family,” Kennedy said his mother’s secretary was waiting for him. “Jinx Hack told me my father had been shot, but I was still thinking he’d be okay. He was, after all, indestructible.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., his older sister Kathleen and brother Joe flew to Los Angeles on Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey’s plane, Air Force Two.

At Good Samaritan Hospital, Kennedy wrote, his father’s head was bandaged and his face was bruised. A priest had already delivered last rites. His mother was there.

“I sat down across the bed from her and took hold of his big wrestler’s hand,” he wrote. “I prayed and said goodbye to him, listening to the pumps that kept him breathing. Each of us children took turns sitting with him and praying opposite my mom.

“My dad died at 1:44 a.m., a few minutes after doctors removed his life support. My brother Joe came into the ward where all the children were lying down and told us, ‘He’s gone.’ ”

Sirhan has been in prison for over fifty years now. His 50th anniversary took place on 23 May this year. He has been denied parole fifteen times.

At his last parole hearing in 2016, Schrade spoke on Sirhan’s behalf and apologized for not coming forward sooner to advocate for his release and exoneration.

September 15, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

9/11 – TAKE THE QUIZ

luogocomune2 | September 9, 2019

How much do you really know about the most important terrorist attacks in human history?

Italian version here: https://youtu.be/8r30BwB7YGo — Version française ici: https://youtu.be/ndA2N7ZbKas

September 15, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 4 Comments

Iran should respond in kind to Canada’s sale of diplomatic properties: MP

Press TV – September 15, 2019

A senior member of the Iranian parliament has called for a decisive response to Canada’s sale of Iranian diplomatic properties in Ottawa and Toronto, saying Canadian shipments crossing the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf should be confiscated in response to the move.

“An order should be issued to confiscate ships and goods that set off from the Hormuz region to the destination of Canada,” said Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh on Sunday, adding, “This measure should be adopted as soon as possible.”

The comments came two days after Iranian Foreign Ministry warned Canada that the country should await consequences if it does not revoke a decision to sell Iranian diplomatic properties worth tens of millions of dollars in an alleged bid to compensate so-called victims of terror.

In a Friday statement, the ministry strongly condemned the move as “a clear breach of the international law,” and urged the Canadian government to immediately return the properties.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Tehran will take action by itself to restore its rights based on international regulations if Ottawa fails to immediately revoke the unlawful decision and compensate the damages.

Falahatpisheh, a senior member of parliament’s committee on national security and foreign policy, said that courts in Iran should also be authorized to seize Canadian government properties in Iran.

He said, however, that responding in kind to the ruling issued in August by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to sell the two Iranian-owned buildings would not suffice as Canada has not enough assets in Iran that could be subject to a similar court verdict.

The lawmaker, who made the remarks in an interview with the parliament news service, said Iran had a duty to decisively counter the sale of the properties in Canada, a move which he said was clearly influenced by political lobbies who seek to “plunder” Iran’s wealth.

September 15, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

Iran Was Ready to Attack US Bases in Case of Retaliation after US Drone Downing, Says IRGC General

By Nader Talebzadeh | American Herald Tribune | September 15, 2019

Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the aerospace unit of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), says Iran was ready to attack US bases in the region if the country tried to retaliate after Iran downed its intruding spy drone over the Strait of Hormuz.

“As was mentioned in previous interviews, if they wanted to attack, we would have attacked US bases with missiles, and we were ready, and we would have targeted the US base in al-Udeid in Qatar or al-Dhafra in the Emirates or their ships in the Gulf of Oman or Arabian Sea, and if they had hit us, we would have hit them back,” General Hajizadeh said in an interview with the Nader’s Show, hosted by Nader Talebzadeh.

During the interview, General Hajizadeh answered some questions from former CIA officer Phillip Giraldi, journalist and author Pepe Escobar and former Pentagon officer and political analyst Michael Maloof.

“Of course, they knew and had intelligence and were aware of the consequences of that eventuality,” he said. “But if that incident had occurred, the conflict would have continued and intensified.”

US busy spying 12,000 kilometers away from own borders: Hajizadeh

He pointed out that the US presence in the Middle East is not justified.

“If we take a look at the map of the world, if free-thinking people around the world and in America take a look, they will see that the distance between Iran and the United States is around 12,000 kilometers. Twelve thousand kilometers between us and America, and America has covered this distance and has come close to our borders, it builds bases and is busy spying,” he remarked.

In other words, the general continued, the issue of America’s security is not necessarily relevant to this region, and if a nation wants to defend itself it can invest in its neighboring area, but “12,000 kilometers away” cannot be viewed seriously.

“Their numerous spy planes are busy flying around outside of Iran’s borders and everybody knows that their intelligence activities and collection with manned or unmanned planes is of a significant magnitude,” Hajizadeh said, adding, “In this recent incident, we actually defended ourselves. The MQ-4C, an advanced US spy plane, entered into Iranian airspace. Yes, it is correct, it only entered into [Iran] a few kilometers, but in any case, we don’t tolerate even a few meters.”

He emphasized that his forces warned the US drone four times before shooting it down “but they did not pay any attention.”

The top Iranian general noted that the IRGC forces could also shoot down an American P8 spy plane, which had a crew of approximately 35, but decided not to do that.

Hajizadeh said the US has no reason to build military bases in the Middle East and will be driven out of the region inevitably, because “we in the region witnessed nothing but insecurity and enmity so far.”

He stated that the US spends American taxpayers’ money in a “very destructive” way in the region. “We witness civil war in Afghanistan, mass killings occurred in Iraq in these years, insecurity in the region, disease, environmental destruction. With this money that has been spent by the Americans, militant groups like Daesh (ISIS) and al-Qaeda were created. People around the world have now realized that America has spent this money and is now supporting Saudi Arabia whose crown prince murdered [journalist Jamal] Khashoggi.”

‘Would Americans tolerate if we sent our drones to their coasts?’

The IRGC general asked the American people what their reactions would be if Iran sent its drones along the US coasts. “In other words, if we send our drones and began doing these things, would the US tolerate it? Naturally, they wouldn’t tolerate it.”

He also rejected US President Donald Trump’s claim that the US had been “cocked and loaded” to retaliate against Iran but he decided to call off the mission.

“Well, let me say that this is not true,” said General Hajizadeh, adding, “This is contrary to reality. Look, it’s possible that within the US military, among politicians’ discussions might have occurred, but they didn’t reach that decision. Why? Because we defended ourselves and downed the US spy drone. With what excuse did they want to attack?”

General Hajizadeh: Nobody wants war or conflict

The chief of the IRGC aerospace unit also said one of the things that “we and the Americans have in common is that nobody wants war or conflict, but if an unintentional conflict occurs, it is possible that it results in a war.”

“Because of the tensions and the sensitive situation, our region is like a powder keg,” he cautioned. “When these contacts become too close, when forces come in contact with one another, it is possible that a conflict happens because of a misunderstanding.”

“In other words, it’s possible that the leaders in Iran and in the US do not want war, but the forces and troops that are in contact with one another in the region enter into an unintentional war. So, logic dictates that America keeps its distance.”

Asked by Mr. Maloof about the decision-making process of downing the American drone and whether it was ordered at the highest levels, General Hajizadeh said Iranian forces at any level have specific directives on how to act in different circumstances.

“Look, we have directives that we issue to our units,” he explained. “For example, we specify that if a plane in these circumstances, with these conditions, is closing in within a certain distance, you give a warning. But if it goes beyond certain conditions, you confront and shoot it down.”

Defensive units possess higher authority compared to offensive units, says Hajizadeh

“Naturally, we have sets of authorities at various levels of the Guards, some at the command level and some at the unit level at the borders. In other words, they have a set of authorities. For example, it could be that launching a missile requires higher level authority, which is the case everywhere around the world. If for example, an airplane wants to bomb a location, a decision has to be taken. However, on matters of defense and air defense, it could be that a junior officer manning his post, when he identifies a situation and discovers something and sees that it is not a friendly force, has the duty to confront. He has this directive.”

He further explained that offensive units require authority at higher levels compared to defensive units, in which authority is granted to lower levels.

Hajizadi continued, “For instance, I’m the commander of the Aerospace Force, and I was informed only after the drone was targeted and downed. It was not the case that I was informed previously and it wasn’t the case that I stayed up and was ready to give orders. No, those units are at the border and decide themselves and have authority.”

The general noted that a similar incident occurred a few years ago, when Iranian forces shot down an Israeli spy plane which was over Natanz in the central part of the country, emphasizing, “There as well, they had the authority because it had entered their area. Naturally, they confronted it and downed it.”

Asked whether his forces identified the intruding American drone before they shot it down, Hajizadeh said, “Yes. The units in the area identified the aircraft. The difference between the Global Hawk RQ4 and the MQ4 is very slight, and the units there identified it but the units that publicized it didn’t make that distinction, but after it was downed, the precise model was established. And after it was downed and they informed me, they informed me that it was a MQ-4 drone, a very large spy aircraft.”

‘Probability of a US retaliation was very low’

Hajizadeh argued that the probability of a US response was very low after the incident “because we had warned them four times, we didn’t do it over their base, we did it over our space.”

Considering the fact that Iran was capable of targeting the P-8 but refrained from doing so, the Americans understood that it was a warning to the US, the Iranian commander said.

“Yes, it is true that they lost a very large aircraft, but nobody was killed and this was a warning that Mr. Trump also acknowledged and thanked us for choosing to [only] strike the unmanned aircraft,” he added.

He reiterated that the incident could have easily turned into a war should the Americans decided to retaliate.

Asked by Mr. Escobar whether the 3rd Khordad air defense system and its parts were produced domestically, General Hajizadeh said “We have been under an arms embargo for the last 40 years, including the eight years of the war and the last 30 years as well. We haven’t been able to buy anything from the world to bring here.”

He said Iran is even banned from purchasing automotive spare parts, and that France and some other countries with which Iran has contracts, don’t deliver automotive spare parts to the Islamic Republic.

The same goes for aircraft parts and even in very trivial things we are sanctioned, he said.

“So naturally, the import sector for weapons is very limited and we didn’t have many options. Over these years we couldn’t even import simple things like radars which every country needs for its defense. We can’t attack anybody with that radar, but it can detect if an aircraft is passing or not, and even this they wouldn’t sell to us and this had dire consequences.”

Sanctions made Iran self-sufficient: IRGC aerospace unit chief

The general highlighted that Iran became self-sufficient as a result of the sanctions which inflicted heavy losses on Iran, especially during the eight-year war which was imposed by Iraq.

Noting that Iran’s military achievements are incredible, Hajizadeh said, “Our domestic systems are not just one or two examples. Thousands of weapons systems are manufactured domestically and this would be impossible with imports and bringing things from abroad. We are self-sufficient and our dynamism will continue.”

Asked by Mr. Maloof if a conflict between Iran and the US-backed terrorist groups such as ISIS is on the horizon, General Hajizadeh said “Look, we’ve been fighting them in the last seven-eight years now, in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and even in Iran and now we are continuing to fight with their remnants and the vast majority of them have been destroyed and they scattered around the region.”

“We know that they are being supported by America and at various times during the conflicts they conducted airdrops for them, supplied them, transported their commanders and they supported them. They would smuggle Iraqi oil under US protection and they would sell the crude oil. They are being supported by America and in Afghanistan this is also the case.”

“But the fighting is not going to be larger than the fighting that happened in the past and the majority of them have been eradicated and destroyed,” he added.

‘U.S. leaders, commanders not having the will for a war’

Asked Mr. Giraldi about the possibility of an Iran-US conflict, the IRGC general said, “We do not see the American military or the American political leaders having the will for a war. But all of this comes down to a decision and ultimately, it’s possible that a decision will be taken in the future.”

He went on to say, “We do not see such situation in America, US bases, the state of the US military or the morale of American officers and soldiers being on that level. But we ourselves have a duty, and with the management of the Supreme Leader, we always view the future with skepticism and we say that a big war will occur. That is, in the military we are always preparing ourselves for a war.”

“In other words, if a rational nation wants to avoid war, it has no option but to prepare itself for war,” he argued. “Therefore, it’s on this basis that we are permanently preparing ourselves, developing our capabilities, and fulfilling our intelligence and operational duties.”

General Hajizadeh also stressed that the possibility of an incident or misunderstanding which could lead to a war is higher than a pre-planned war.

Mr. Escobar asked what is the key message that the IRGC wants to American officials and more importantly global public opinion to be aware of, to which Hajizadeh responded, “We don’t have much to say to American officials because American officials are not committed to anything nor do they have any firm beliefs, nor are they concerned about the American people nor do they care about the people of the region.”

Hajizadeh: Zionists determine U.S. policies, actions

“They care about the one percent rich people in America and we believe that the American people are captives of the politicians and rulers who constitute a tiny minority who themselves are captives of the Zionists,” he noted.

“It’s the Zionists that determine who the president of the United States will be and it’s them who determine his policies and actions,” the general added.

He said America’s power is declining because of the pervasive corruption of its rulers, who “support a murderer and because of the Saudi money they are supporting Daesh and al-Qaeda which developed with the support of this same Saudi Arabia. They have really fallen and declined morally.”

According to a new report, US Army soldiers are being exposed to a deck of playing cards depicting Iranian weaponry to get a better sense of Iran’s weapons stockpile. General Hajizadeh was asked to comment on the report. He said the American troops really know and understand and they are making fun of their own officials.

“We monitor their tweets, they curse their own officials, nasty curses,” he said.

“Just imagine a few thousand people have to bear the circumstances of being on the sea for months. For rest and recreation, they take them to a barren and dry place. They are really under pressure and the troops can’t really fight with this morale.”

“I also want to say something so that the whole world hears this,” the general continued. “In addition to the US bases in various regions like Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Emirates and Qatar, we can target all naval vessels up to a distance of 2,000 km and we are constantly monitoring them.”

Iran of today not comparable to Iran of 30 years ago: Hajizadeh

Hajizadeh noted that the Iran of today is not the Iran of 30 years ago, when an aircraft would fly to the center of the country like in the Tabas incident, and Iran didn’t have the equipment, the radar and the air defense systems to respond.

“They shot down our Airbus passenger plane with 290 people on board and we couldn’t respond, he said, adding, “But today it is very different. Today we are powerful and our response will be very powerful and crushing.”

Asked to comment on the impact of Iran on the defensive power of the region, General Hajizadeh said, “According to Islamic teachings, we must help Muslims around the world. If in Palestine, in Lebanon, in Syria, in Yemen they (Muslims) are being attacked by enemies that are being supported by America and European countries, it is our duty to support them to the best of our abilities and to stand with the Resistance Front.”

The general said Iran will definitely help Palestine, Lebanon, Yemen, etc. in spite of the blockades and restrictions that exist.

While concluding his remarks, the Iranian commander said, “It’s not like in the past when they were alone… We are definitely interrelated and are standing beside each other and the era of hit-and-run is over. We will not allow them to oppress us and we stand united against America.”

September 15, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Iraq Denies Report Drones Attacking Saudi Oil Facilities Were Launched From Its Territory

Sputnik – September 15, 2019

On Saturday Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities were attacked by two drones, causing major fires and disrupting oil production in Abqaiq in the eastern part of the country and in Khurais, northeast of Riyadh. The attacks were claimed by Yemen’s Houthi movement but the US put the blame on Iran. Tehran has refuted the allegations.

Iraq has denied media reports claiming that its territory was used to launch the drones that attacked Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities on Saturday night, a statement from the Iraqi Prime Minister’s press-service released on Twitter says.

“​Iraq denies reports in the press and on social media that its territory was used to attack oil facilities in Saudi Arabia using drones”, the statement reads.

It also says that the constitution of Iraq does not allow the use of its territory for aggressive actions towards its neighbours. The Iraqi authorities have set up a committee to monitor reports and the latest events relating to the drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

Iraq also urges the warring sides in Yemen to find a peaceful solution to the conflict and refrain from “mutual attacks that cause a huge damage to facilities and claim people’s lives,” according to the statement.

Two drones attacked Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities on Saturday night, causing major fires and disrupting oil production. Yemen’s Houthis claimed responsibility for the attacks but the US has blamed Iran for the incident. Tehran has rejected the allegations.

September 15, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 3 Comments

Houthis strike at Saudi Arabia’s throbbing heart

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 15, 2019

A terrible beauty is born on the Middle East’s strategic landscape with the massive drone attacks Saturday on two Saudi Aramco refineries. Saudi Arabia, which has a record of sponsoring terrorist groups to destabilise foreign lands — Afghanistan, Chechnya, United States, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, etc. —   has become a victim of terrorism, finally. There is natural justice here, one may say. Saturday’s attacks trigger geopolitical convulsions.

The Saudi defence ministry could not thwart the attacks despite the advanced weapon systems in its inventory costing hundreds of billions of dollars. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Saudi Arabia was ranked third in military spending in 2018, below the US and China, with an expenditure of $67.6 billion (alongside India — $66.5 billion).

Evidently, the massive scale of defence expenditure did not ensure national defence, since the Kingdom’s main threat today is not one of external aggression but of blowback ensuing from flawed policies, internal or external. The Patriot missiles deployed in Saudi Arabia could not thwart Saturday’s attacks. Yemen’s Houthi movement who claimed responsibility disclosed that 10 drones were used to target the Aramco refineries at Abqaiq and Khurais.

The Houthi military spokesman said, “This was one of the largest operations which our forces have carried out deep inside Saudi Arabia. It came after careful intelligence and cooperation with honourable and free people inside Saudi Arabia.” The two oil facilities targeted are located in Saudi Arabia’s Shi’ite majority eastern province, which is a restive region.

Without doubt, the Houthis have messaged that Riyadh, having lost the war in Yemen, should cease its continuing interference and leave it to the Yemeni factions to sort out their civil war.

The ball is now in the Saudi-Emirati court. The Houthis claim to have over 200 major Saudi targets in its crosshairs. They have also separately warned the UAE that there’s going to be retribution.

US President Donald Trump spoke to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) on the phone. The Saudi readout said Trump “reasserted” Washington’s “readiness to cooperate” with Riyadh “by all means conducive to maintain its (Saudi) security and stability, reaffirming the negative effects of the attacks (on two Aramco’s facilities) on the US economy as well as the world economy”, while MbS “underscored” on his part the Saudi “willingness and strength to thwart such a terrorist aggression and deal with its consequences.”

Neither Trump nor MbS accused any party for staging the attacks. Similarly, a statement by the Official Spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said that “investigations are ongoing to determine the parties responsible for planning and executing these terrorist attacks.”

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s tweeted —“Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.” It must be taken as a personal opinion or a knee-jerk reaction. Clearly, utmost care is being taken in Riyadh and Washington not to create alarm in the oil market.

Saudi Arabia has promised to replace any shortfall from its existing stocks. Nonetheless, considering that the attacks have disrupted half of Saudi Arabia’s oil capacity or 5.7 million barrels a day of crude oil and gas production (equivalent to 5% of daily global oil supply), the oil market will remain jittery and the stock markets across the Gulf have plunged.

Saturday’s attack deals a heavy blow to MbS’ plans to go public on the Aramco IPO. Aramco’s debut international bond sale in April has been a big success. In a move to give transparency, Saudis also recently commissioned an independent audit of the country’s oil reserves and have started publishing earnings. Over the past two weeks, MbS took direct control of Aramco by appointing a hand-picked as chairman who is close to him. The energy minister also has been replaced.

In political terms, the war in Yemen and the Saudi Aramco’s ambitious restructuring are directly attributable to MbS and, therefore, any setback in these two arenas becomes a reflection on his decision-making and leadership. This has implications for MbS’s political standing as well as the trajectory of Saudi policies.

The Trump administration gets an opportunity to prevail upon the Saudis to end the war in Yemen, which is also what the US Congress has recommended. Washington has opened direct contacts with the Houthis. Therefore, the likelihood that Saturday’s attacks may prompt a Saudi rethink on the war in Yemen cannot be brushed aside.

Indeed, the tide in regional politics and the regional balance has turned against the Saudis lately, given the unraveling of the US-led maximum pressure approach toward Iran and Trump’s keenness to engage with the leadership in Tehran. The politico-military defeat in Syria and Yemen, the break-up with Qatar and the marginalisation in the US-Taliban talks have exposed that Saudi Arabia’s imperial overstretch is unsustainable and in turn put serious limits to Riyadh’s regional influence.

Over and above, the Kingdom is in historic transition at multiple levels — political, economic and social — and reforms cannot be postponed much longer. On the other hand, the steady US retrenchment in the region creates a backdrop of huge uncertainties for Saudi Arabia’s future. It’s at a tumultuous juncture that the Houthis have struck at Aramco, the throbbing heart of Saudi Arabia with a net income of $111.1 billion in 2018.

September 15, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 2 Comments