(TMU Op-Ed) — Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq refinery, the largest oil processing facility in the world, and the Khurais oil field were reportedly attacked by a barrage of cruise missiles and drone strikes on Saturday.
Not surprisingly, United States President Donald Trump warned that the U.S. is “locked and loaded” to respond to the attack, but insisted that he was still waiting to verify who was responsible. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immediately rushed to blame Iran, even while Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack. A Saudi military spokesman said the initial investigation suggests “Iranian weapons” were used.
Thx @the_Jeff_Jones f/ alerting to breaking news reported by @JavierBlas. US govt releases satellite pics showing direct hits on critical spheroids use to treat the crude. We think this is a mths fix, not days/weeks. Oil going up even higher. #OOTT https://t.co/Ds7XPLAauV
— Dan Tsubouchi (@Energy_Tidbits) September 15, 2019
On Sunday, the U.S. issued satellite images and cited intelligence as proof of Iran’s culpability. According to an unnamed U.S. official, Iran launched nearly a dozen cruise missiles and over 20 drones from its territory in order to carry out the attack.
However, some officials have contradicted this, stating instead that the attack likely came from Iran or Iraq.
If true, this is a whole different situation now. Raises stakes of response, culpability. Pompeo expected to release more evidence https://t.co/2giQ25ydki
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) September 16, 2019
Iraq categorically denied any involvement after an anonymous Iraqi intelligence official told Middle East Eye that the strikes were launched from Iraqi territory and were in retaliation for Saudi-funded Israeli drone strikes in August on Iranian-trained forces in Syria.
While Iran has denied the accusations, the country has threatened that it is ready for war if need be.
One senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander even told Tasnim that “everybody should know that all American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2000km around Iran are within the range of our missiles.”
Understandably, this recent attack has sent a shockwave through the global oil markets, cutting oil supplies by five percent as global oil prices surged more than ever before.
According to the Joint Organizations Data Initiative, as of this time last year, Saudi Arabian oil production averaged 10.7 million barrels a day, of which 7.43 million were exported.
We must ask ourselves how—while under the watchful eye of the world’s leading military superpower—was it possible for the world’s largest oil processing facility to be targeted so heavily and in such dramatic fashion?
As stated by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), “protecting Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf producers has been a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy for decades” as “providing security for the oil-rich Persian Gulf region has been a U.S. priority since World War II.”
The Brookings Institution further argues that deterring Iran’s ability to encroach on Saudi oil fields is one of the main reasons for a continued American military presence in the region. To that end, the U.S. even provides Saudi terminals with sophisticated U.S.-made Hawk surface-to-air missiles.
According to an estimate by Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), the U.S. spends approximately $81 billion a year protecting oil supplies around the world. This calculation is allegedly on the conservative side, as it doesn’t include the full costs to “protect” oil fields in Iraq, for example.
This time last year, the U.S. president launched one of his infamous Twitter tirades in which he claimed the US was protecting countries in the Middle East all the while those same countries push for “higher and higher oil prices.” It is hard to imagine he could have meant anyone besides Saudi Arabia.
Bearing in mind that, not too long ago, the U.S. deployed 500 troops to the Kingdom for the first time since 2003 as a show of strength in Washington’s spat with Iran.
With so much support, even if the U.S. and Saudi Arabia were unable to deter or defend from such an attack, surely they would have at least have evidence of how it was perpetrated. And if that evidence does indeed exist, why was it not quickly presented in lieu of crying “Iran” (which is starting to sound a lot like crying “wolf”).
A handful of photos and anonymous statements are not going to cut it this time around.
Why is the U.S. government so sure that Iran was behind the attack and not the more likely culprit—the Houthi rebels who are currently locked in a brutal and deadly conflict with the Kingdom? After all, even the New York Times notes that Houthi drones have a range of nearly 1,000 miles, which give them the capability to strike Saudi territory.
In fact, the spokesman for the Houthi-allied Yemeni army, Brigadier General Yahya Saree recently told MintPress News, of a “new missile” and that vital targets within Saudi Arabia will be focused on.
MintPress reports that during a test, “Yemen’s Houthi-allied army launched a ballistic missile attack on a yet-unidentified military position in Saudi Arabia’s eastern Dammam province. The strike was the first time the Houthis or their allied forces stuck eastern Saudi Arabia, and the missile is reported to have traveled nearly 800 miles to reach its target. Dammam is a major oil export hub and houses several major companies including Saudi Aramco.”
According to Saree, the launching of the long-range ballistic missile was “a new and practical test of the Yemeni missile force.”
Notably, this attack appears to coincide with the inevitable departure of ruthless Iran-hawk John Bolton, and just three days before Israel’s election. If there was ever a time to ensure that the U.S. foreign policy establishment never takes off the table the threat of force against Iran, it would be now.
Iran: We didn't do it.
Yemen’s Houthis: We did it
US: Iran did it.
— Sven Henrich (@NorthmanTrader) September 16, 2019
This is not to say that Iran couldn’t have carried out the attack—it may very well have done so. But the evidence being pushing by U.S. mainstream media is lacking and, as stated previously, a handful of photos and anonymous claims are not sufficient.
After a maximum pressure campaign of crippling sanctions, constant threats of war and a handful of “mysterious” strikes targeting Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, perhaps Iran really has had enough. Perhaps Iran has decided to take matters into its own hands and respond militarily against vital U.S. interests.
We cannot rule out the possibility, but until we know the truth it is best not to speculate, given how high the stakes are.
In the meantime, despite the presence of U.S. troops and intelligence on the ground, the media is again insisting that we must rely on anonymous statements from military officials to justify our militaristic conclusions.
Recent history tells us that this is probably not a good idea.
WATCH: Video Shows Bullets Fly as Armored Car Crew Narrowly Escapes Brutal Heist
Dramatic dash cam footage from Pretoria, South Africa, shows the moment that the crew of an armored car narrowly escaped an attempt by armed robes to stage a heist.
The shocking video shows a pair of private security officers transporting cash in a bulletproof Toyota truck on April 22 before they suddenly come under attack by armed assailants.
For the first minute of the roughly three-minute-long video, the security guards can be seen routinely driving down a highway.
The vehicle then comes under fire as bullets can be heard slamming into the driver side of the car, with the window by the driver’s side shattering.
The driver, who maintains his calm and composure during the attack, manages to escape amid the traffic. He also seems to slam into one of the two vehicles belonging to the attackers.
“They’re going to shoot. They’re going to f**king shoot,” the driver then says, urging his colleague to pull out the rifle and prepare to defend their lives.
As gunshots continue to ring out, the two drive silently as the tension builds. The driver then shouts to his colleague: “Phone Robbie, phone Josh! Ask them where they are.”
As the video ends, the driver can be seen stopping the vehicle and grabbing his colleague’s rifle. At that point, it becomes clear that the assailants have realized that their attack was futile they had already fled the scene.
“The suspects fired several shots at the [Cash-In-Transit] vehicle in an attempt to stop it during a high-speed chase,” said police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo , reports News24.
“The driver of the CIT vehicle managed to evade the robbers for a while but later stopped in wait for the robbers,” Naidoo added. “The robbers fled without taking any money. No arrests have yet been made.”
Online users have praised the steel nerves of the armored car’s crew in navigating what could have been a deadly attack.
After Strong Backlash, NYPD Kicks Robotic Dog “Spot” to the Curb
The New York City Police Department decided this week to stop leasing a robotic dog from Boston Dynamics following a sustained outcry from residents and lawmakers, who denounced the use of the high-tech, four-legged device in low-income neighborhoods as a misallocation of public resources and violation of civil liberties.
When the NYPD acquired the K-9 machine last August, officials portrayed “Digidog”—the department’s name for the camera-equipped, 70-pound robot—as “a futuristic tool that could go places that were too dangerous to send officers,” the New York Times reported earlier this week.
Inspector Frank Digiacomo of the department’s Technical Assistance Response Unit said in a television interview in December: “This dog is going to save lives. It’s going to protect people. It’s going to protect officers.”
Instead—thanks to strong backlash from critics, including people who live in the Bronx apartment complex and the Manhattan public housing building where the robotic dog was deployed in recent weeks—the department is returning “Spot,” as Boston Dynamics calls the device, months earlier than expected.
According to the Times:
In response to a subpoena from City Councilman Ben Kallos and Council Speaker Corey Johnson requesting records related to the device, police officials said that a contract worth roughly $94,000 to lease the robotic dog from its maker, Boston Dynamics, had been terminated on April 22.
John Miller, the police department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, confirmed on Wednesday that the contract had been canceled and that the dog had been returned to Boston Dynamics or would be soon.
Miller told the Times that the police had initially planned to continue testing the K-9 machine’s capabilities until August, when the lease had been scheduled to end.
“Robotic surveillance ground drones are being deployed for testing on low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted in response. “Please ask yourself: when was the last time you saw next-generation, world class technology for education, healthcare, housing, etc. consistently prioritized for underserved communities like this?”
And earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported, footage of the robotic dog walking through a Manhattan public housing building went viral, sparking additional outrage and prompting a city council investigation.
“Why the hell do we need robot police dogs?” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) asked at the time.
While there are “people living in poverty, struggling to put food on the table, keep a roof over their head, take care of their kids, afford child care—all this going on, and now we got damn robot police dogs walking down the street,” Bowman lamented.
Bill Neidhardt, a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who urged the police department to reconsider its use of the robot following objections from residents and lawmakers, said he was “glad the Digidog was put down.”
“It’s creepy, alienating, and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers,” Neidhardt said.
Republished from CommonDreams.org under Creative Commons
Senate Intelligence Leaders Say Mystery “Sonic Weapon” Attacks on U.S. Officials Increasing
After it was revealed Thursday that US intelligence is investigating at least two potential “directed energy” sonic attacks on White House personnel – one of which is alleged to have happened just off White House grounds – the US Senate Intelligence Committee weighed in on Friday, saying such mysterious incidents appear to be happening with greater frequency worldwide.
Senators Mark Warner (D) and Marco Rubio (R) agreed that such microwave energy attacks have gone on for “nearly five years” and have targeted “US government personnel in Havana, Cuba and elsewhere around the world.” In a joint statement the two ranking members said, “This pattern of attacking our fellow citizens serving our government appears to be increasing. The Senate Intelligence Committee intends to get to the bottom of this,” according to Reuters.
As with the late 2016 into 2017 ‘Havana Syndrome’ attacks in which some 50 diplomatic personnel reported experiencing strange symptoms from vomiting to concussions to extreme nausea to chronic headaches, which was believed the result of some kind of undetected ‘directed energy’ weapon, the most recent incidents saw media reports speculate that Russia or China might be behind them.
It was starting last week that the mysterious incidents returned to national media spotlight after defense officials said they believe Russia is likely behind microwave energy weapon attacks on US troops in northeast Syria. Apparently some US troops occupying the country began reporting”flu-like symptoms” which caused the DoD to investigate possible linkage to microwave or directed energy weapons on the battlefield of Syria. Politico reported that “officials identified Russia as a likely culprit, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter.”
Despite instances of strange symptoms and even head injuries experienced by diplomatic personnel or troops abroad, no “energy weapon” has ever been found or uncovered that’s believed to have caused any of these alleged attacks. Most often US personnel report the symptoms enough time after the alleged attack took place for the “plot” and culprit to remain undetected. Naturally this has resulted in immense skepticism and pushback.
One deeply critical response to all the reporting late this week quipped: “Another day, another mostly anonymously sourced story about unidentified assailants supposedly assaulting U.S. government employees around the globe. This time, according to CNN, federal agencies are looking into something closer to home: symptoms suffered by a White House employee in Virginia and National Security Council staffer near the south lawn of the White House.”
“Although a government report later concluded the most likely cause was instead some sort of ‘directed, pulsed radiofrequency energy’ (i.e. a microwave weapon), that conclusion was primarily based on a lack of evidence for other causes and received strong pushback from many others in the scientific community.”
The commentary in Gizmodo pointed out further that “No hard evidence of any kind for the technology has ever been publicly presented by the US government. Reports citing government officials who suspect Russian intelligence to be involved have largely been anonymous and buoyed primarily by rumors the Russian government may have resumed Soviet-era research into experimental weapons.”
Republished from ZeroHedge.com with permission
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