06.10.2019 Author: Jim Dean

Stepping Back from the Brink of War in the Gulf


While heads of state enjoyed their few minutes of limelight at the UN podium last week, the Persian Gulf continued to sizzle. Fortunately, we had verbal cruise missiles and drones flying that don’t cause as much damage or kill people.

There was endless chanting of “we think Iran did it”, and US military assets being moved into the US’ Gulf-State allies to protect them from possible additional stealth drone attacks launched by God only knows who, despite the Houthis claiming full credit for the attack on Saudi Arabia and their obvious motive, retaliation for the Saudi coalition’s genocidal war against Yemen.

Absent in all the Iranophobia in the West was anyone presenting a motive for Iran to do such an attack now, when it has its hands full combatting the sanctions already in place, while mounting a strong diplomatic defense.

Trump team backs off military action on Iran

The “Iran did it” chorus seemed so orchestrated that whispers began right away about how this could be the false-flag trigger that so many have been fearful of, i.e., something big enough to justify launching a big counterstrike on Iran. But that did not happen.

That left conflict analysts wondering what had happened in the prevailing 24 hours, as Trump and Pompeo backed off their “Iran did it” cheerleading. NATO was not rushing forces into the region in the volume needed for a major shooting war.

American moves were token – 200 hundred troops, four radars and another Patriot battery to the Saudis, possibly even one that would work. But the weapons analyst consensus was that they don’t work against low flying threats, due to the ground clutter at that level.

And then some moveable assets were put in, such as the EC-130 electronic warfare plane and an Aegis destroyer with the US’ best radar on it. The good news is no air attack was launched against Iran, which would definitely have made the situation worse.

All quiet on the Israeli front for a change

John McCain is dead, so we don’t have to listen to his “bomb bomb Iran” silliness anymore, although I had been expecting Netanyahu to take over that function.

Bibi tried to orchestrate a major retaliation on Gaza for two rockets fired, one that the Iron Dome took out and the other landing in a field. The military chiefs and the Israeli attorney general fought him to a standstill, with the consensus being that Bibi had wanted to use the IDF to portray him as the tough guy on the Palestinians just before the election.

Now that he has six weeks to form a new government and try to stay out of jail over his three corruption charges, I suspect he will not be instigating an attack on Iran using his favorite tool, the American military.

Iran shared some credit for dampening the war fever when it made its simple statement through Zarif that, if Iran were attacked, it would retaliate against the US Gulf states coalition. The Republican Guard followed that by stating that ever since the US surveillance drone shootdown, it had been prepared to execute a full retaliatory strike if the US had launched one, which would have included US bases in the region and ships. No one thought this was a bluff.

Yemen asks for ceasefire and is rejected

After taking full credit for the Aramco attack, the Houthis stated that they would launch another if it was deemed necessary; and then began a unilateral ceasefire, which the Saudis quickly broke by violating the UN truce on Hudayda by bombing buildings inside the city where alleged missiles were stored, but there were no reports of secondary explosions.

The Saudis kept bombing and paid for that dearly when the Houthis surrounded a large Saudi force on the border, consisting of three brigades of rag-tag Yemini mercenaries and a regiment of Saudi armored vehicles backing them up.

The Houthis surrounded the entire force and began a general attack, which caused the Saudi armored regiment to jump into their vehicles and run for their lives, only to find themselves running a gauntlet of Houthi IED ambushes waiting for them.

The Yemini mercenaries, abandoned by the Saudis, began surrendering in droves, all captured on Houthi video, an estimated 2000 of them.

Where is the proof that Iran did it?

So far, all we have is the Saudi claim that because Iranian equipment was found among some of the Aramco-strike missile parts, Iran was behind the strike. Saudi Arabian promises to confirm the locations from where the attacking Aramco missiles were launched have not been fulfilled, and remain in the Bigfoot-legend realm.

For balance, the Saudis forgot to mention that the Mideast is awash with weapons of every conceivable kind and country origin. In fact, the Syrian army continues to capture terrorist and jihadi weapons depots with Israeli and US weapons in them every week, but we do not hear of Syrian planned retaliation attacks on US and Israeli targets.

What really caused the war rhetoric to die down?

We had earlier reports that the two crude oil facilities would take several months to a year to repair, as custom milled parts could not be delivered quickly. Within a few days, that story changed to almost back to normal production – 90% by the end of September or first week of October. They stated 8000 people were working on repairs.

But that seemed suspicious. After the first round of photos showing the damaged section being disassembled, there were no more photos. Tight controls went into effect over all statements and visual access, which I would describe as a lockdown. Then we had the weird report that Aramco is looking for a short-term $1 billion loan.

I sensed that the Saudis were puffing up their repair progress by pulling oil out of their own reserves and doing some quick purchases from Gulf neighbors to be able to fill Saudi customer orders. But why the subterfuge?

It seems the Royal family decided that proceeding with the Aramco offering this year, selling 1% of the stock in the first round for $20 billion to establish a $2 trillion value for Aramco, was its top priority. They had pulled back from a larger plan to sell 5% for $100 billion. Any talk about a military retaliation on Iran would have been followed by a retaliation so large as to make the Aramco attack look like a trash bin fire. All talk about attacks on Iran dried up in the media, eccept for more Trump sanctions.

US military sources reveal Saudi war on Yemen was doomed to fail

The American Conservative magazine published a blistering report, supported by highly placed military sources that admitted, “We didn’t see the [Saudi] invasion [of Yemen in March 2015] coming, and we were shocked when it happened. But we were pretty blunt. We told them, “you can’t win and you’ll bankrupt your country. It’ll be a quagmire. And we were right.”

The US Special Operations Command saw the Houthis as opponents to al-Qaeda in Yemen and even argued that America should take steps to support them. They went on to state that, at the time, the Houthis were only nominal Iran surrogates. The US military perceived the Saudi military incapable of handling an offensive war, due primarily to having no experience and a military with no demonstrable capabilities, which VT sources have consistently confirmed.

The Saudi military is described as a “paycheck” military, where no one expects to really have to fight. Then there is the scandal of Saudi pilots hiring stand ins to take classes and even fly their planes, which has long been known, as they party with the babes in Las Vegas during “flight training” while their Pakistani pilots fill in for them.

Is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman the driving engine behind his country’s current military and financial mess? The former FM and PM of Qatar revealed on the Charlie Rose show that the US coalition had spent $160 billion trying to take Syria down, wasting money that inflicted huge damage on lives and property.

Was this recent Aramco strike specifically designed to take down the Aramco public offering that the Saudis desperately need? Is the Saudi wealth a house of cards, and it knows that a major shooting war would be its end?

Bottom line, the US military respects Iran’s ability to defend itself, which has only increased after the US pulled out of the JCPOA and put the squeeze on Iran with sanctions. From reading the American Conservative article, I conclude that no one in the American military wants to die or get maimed fighting for Bedouin prima dona princes.

After the recent military disaster, Crown Prince bin Salman owns the disaster. During CBS News interview on September 29, MbS said a war with Iran and the ensuing infrastructure destruction would collapse the world economy, and that a “political and peaceful solution is better than a military one.”

Then he went on to urge “the world” to act on easing tensions, like he had not had a major hand, including working closely with the Israelis to keep tensions high. The UAE foreign affairs minister, Anwar Gargash made a similar statement (obviously coordinated with MbS), calling for talks with Iran to “reduce the potential for miscalculation, missteps and retaliation on all sides.”

If this is sincere, and not a feint to buy time, then I would ask them both, what took you so long? And for bin Salman I would ask, why do you keep bombing Yemen while making these comments? And I would ask Gargash why the UAE is trying to split off Southern Yemen as a proxy state.

Iran has always been open for a political solution, doing more in the actual fight against terrorism than the US claims to have done. Trump and Pompeo insulted the American people by thinking we would believe their ridiculous claim than Iran is the biggest sponsor of state terrorism in the region.

Did Iran destroy Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria after 911? Did Iran back the ISIS attack against Iraq? Oh no, the US and Israel that did that. Rouhani has made the best first steps for bring peace to the region, which is to get all the foreign military forces out.

Those who have been right all along should lead a correction effort, not those who were the problem all along. The Saudis and UAE could have been loved throughout the region if they had spent the money on development, rather than wasting it on war. But they chose to play king of the hill by being lieutenants in the US’ unipolar drive to increase its state puppet collection.

The Crown Prince should step down, as he has no credibility now. The Saudis desperately need new leadership. The money spent on its army was wasted. Now is not the time for medieval thinking or solutions.

MbS’ quest to become the Arab Lawrence of Arabia should have been a dream he had and saved a lot of lives. And if you behead the Saudi democracy activists, young Prince, you should have the world waiting and wanting to see you on your knees before the sword.

Jim W. Dean, managing editor for Veterans Today, producer/host of Heritage TV Atlanta, specially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.