Update 17Sep2019: Latest reports suggest that Iran launched more than 20 drones and cruise missiles from southern Iran in the attack on Saudi Arabia.
Coordinated drone strikes on the heart of the Saudi oil industry forced the kingdom to shut down half its crude production on Saturday, people familiar with the matter said, potentially roiling petroleum prices and demonstrating the power of Iran’s proxies. __ Wall Street Journal
In The Absent Superpower geopolitical analyst Peter Zeihan predicts a war between ancient rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. In what may become known as the first strike in the Great Gulf Oil War, Iranian proxy fighters used explosive and incendiary drone attacks to take out half of Saudi oil production today.
Drones attacked Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia and the Khurais oil field run by Saudi Aramco early Saturday morning, the kingdom’s interior ministry said, sparking a massive fire at a crude processing plant essential to global oil supplies.
The closure will impact nearly 5 million barrels of crude processing per day, affecting 5 percent of the world’s daily oil production. And while Aramco is confident that it can recover quickly, if it can’t, however, the world could face a production shortage of as much 150MM barrels per month. An outcome which could send oil prices into the triple digits. __ Oilprice
Shia Iran has been touting its evolving drone capability for years now, and may feel ready to take the ancient rivalry with Sunni Saudi Arabia to a new level of hot conflict. By using proxies such as Yemeni Houthi rebels, Iran may feel somewhat protected from direct retaliation to its own oil facilities. And perhaps the question of the Iranian nuclear bomb may further slow a Saudi attack in response to the Iranian provocation. Further, back-channel diplomatic chatter from Iran allies China and Russia may further discourage the Saudis from escalating what seems to be an Iran on Saudi proxy war.
In one of Zeihan’s most recent public talks, the geopolitical analyst discusses a number of looming global conflicts, including the coming war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
A hot war between Iran and Saudi Arabia would reduce global oil production by almost one third, immediately raising oil prices and shifting global strategic balances. Russia would immediately benefit from higher oil prices, and might be tempted to start another border war — this time in the Baltics. Peter Zeihan has a lot to say about that possibility in The Absent Superpower.
Nations that are highly dependent upon Persian Gulf oil would begin to suffer energy shortages fairly soon after escalation of hostilities. Nations of south and east Asia in particular would show signs of distress from oil shortages.
Saudis Plan to Restore Production Within 3 Days
Publicly, the Saudis are brushing off this Iranian proxy attack as a mere nuisance, but what will they say after the next attack? What happens when the Iranian inspired damage takes down Saudi oil production for longer periods of time? That will depend upon the US response, if any. Iran is backed by China and Russia, whereas Saudi Arabia is not certain of its true allies. So the Saudis must step carefully until certain matters are clarified with the global superpower. But if the Iranians push their proxies much further, the keepers of Mecca may feel compelled to meet fire with fire.
Everything is Connected
The US is not nearly so dependent upon Persian Gulf oil as are China and Japan, but the US does have a stake in the stability of the middle east.
President Trump called Saudi Arabia’s day-to-day ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, on Saturday and said the U.S. was ready to “cooperate with the kingdom in supporting its security and stability,” according to the Saudi Press Agency, the official news service.
Prince Mohammed told Mr. Trump that Saudi Arabia “is willing and able to confront and deal with this terrorist aggression,” according to the agency.
The attacks happened a few days before world leaders are set to gather in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, where President Trump has said he is interested in meeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to defuse tensions. __ https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/saudi-arabia-shuts-down-about-half-its-oil-output-after-drone-strikes/ar-AAHh2yx?
The Iranians seem to be pretending that nothing has happened, keeping relatively quiet over the drone attacks. But that silence is a loud statement in itself. Time will tell whether this attack was a warning from Tehran to Riyadh, or whether it is an opening salvo in a new war.
The video above provides a quick summary of Zeihan’s geopolitical analysis. The Absent Superpower provides a lot more detail on the multiple wars predicted by Zeihan over the next ten to fifteen years.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood ©