Recent rocket and drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities have gone largely unreported in the United States. It is, after all, an article of faith with the corporate media that replacing Trump with Biden has made us safer and placed our foreign policy back in the hands of the experts and career diplomats where it belongs. Any evidence to the contrary must simply be disregarded.
That doesn’t stop the Houthis and their Iranian sponsors from launching attacks, though. They did not get the “memo.“
In recent weeks multiple drone and missile attacks have been launched from Yemen and other locations on Saudi Arabia. Targets have included an Aramco refinery in Riyadh and a Saudi oil port. Some of the drones and missiles have been shot down. Some of them have made it through to their targets.
The message the Iranians are sending with these attacks is crystal clear. If they cannot sell oil freely on the world market, then they will make sure the Saudis cannot either. Tehran has yet to take the ultimate step of staging attacks that will take Saudi oil production offline, but it is demonstrating that it can do so if it chooses. Either the Biden administration will roll over and allow Iranian oil back onto the world market, or there will be devastating consequences.
This is not an idle threat. The last time Aramco facilities were targeted by Iranian-made drones was in September 2019 when Saudi facilities in Abqaiq, near Dammam in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, and the Hijrat Khurais oilfield were hit by drones. The total supply loss from taking these facilities offline amounted to some 5.7 million barrels per day (b/d) in oil output—more than half of Saudi Arabia’s production and about 6 percent of the entire world’s supply. It also resulted in the loss of 2 billion cubic feet per day of associated natural gas production.
The 2019 attacks were astonishing in their sophistication. The Iranians did not barrage the target facilities and hope they hit something of value. They targeted 15-18 specific structures that they knew were critical. Their attack was precise and masterfully executed.
SKY News Tweet September 14, 2019, Houthi Rebels Attack Saudi Oil Processing Facility
Abqaiq is the largest and most important oil processing and stabilization center in the world. Saudi oil undergoes critical processing here without which it cannot be shipped anywhere on the globe. If you take Abqaiq out of commission – in other words – you shut down fully the export of a very large portion of Saudi oil production. Saudi Arabia currently produces roughly 12% of all the oil produced on the planet. Take that production offline, and the cost of oil worldwide will skyrocket.
The ayatollahs have taken the measure of the Biden administration and found it wanting. It was not hard for them to perform that calculus. They have seen this cast of characters, mostly retreads from the Obama administration, before. Jake Sullivan, Biden’s National Security Advisor, the man at the heart of American foreign policy, was part of the team that traveled to Oman for secret talks with the Iranians concerning the disastrous Iran nuclear deal.
The same doctrine of appeasement we pursued then, under Obama, has already been trotted out under Biden. Former U.S. President Donald Trump classified the Houthis as a terrorist organization. Biden had barely sat down in the Oval Office before he rescinded that designation. Last month, the U.S. halted support for Saudi Arabia’s offensive operations in Yemen and appointed Tim Lenderking, a former senior State Department official, to lead American peace efforts.
Donald Trump executed a series of masterful foreign policy steps in the Middle East. Many of Israel’s Arab enemies recognized the existence of the Jewish state and dedicated themselves to the establishment of a new diplomatic and national security reality in the Middle East. An alliance of sorts between Israel and the Sunni Arab states began to emerge.
Iran, which under Obama, had set the Middle East on fire and openly bragged about the number of Arab capitals it controlled was constrained and pressured to change its behavior. The threat of militant Shia Islam was not destroyed. It was confronted and put on the defensive. There was reason to hope from Lebanon to Baghdad to Sanaa that we might one day see an end to the ayatollahs’ tyranny and a free Tehran.
No more. Appeasement is the new doctrine.
An entire team of national security “experts” who have been shown to be spineless and ineffectual before, has been given another opportunity to preside over yet another foreign policy disaster. The hard men and religious fanatics in Tehran have not missed any of this.
Iran is holding a knife to the world’s throat. The message is clear. We will submit and do as directed, or they will go for the jugular.
In this contest of wills it is Khamenei versus Biden. I’m not betting on Biden.