The drone attack on the Saudi Aramco facilities at Abqaiq may be the spark that touches off a regional war in the Middle East. The attack on the oil refinery has been claimed by Houthi rebels that operate out of war-torn Yemen, but many voices in the Western intelligence community say this simply isn’t possible.
Ret. US Col. Cedric Leighton, who has a background in image analysis, told CNN that:
“This is the handiwork of a sophisticated (probably State) actor. The precise nature of the intelligence used to conduct targeting, the mission planning that went into this to avoid radar detection, as well as the selection of the targets shows a robust capability that would most likely be the work of a government or government-sponsored group.”
There is no definitive evidence to link the strike to any specific state or group.
Over the weekend US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that there was no evidence to link the attack to Yemen, while US President commented that:
“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”
Target For War: Iran
It isn’t a secret that the Trump administration has been antagonistic toward Iran. The US came close to launching an attack on the nation after Iranian troops downed a US drone in June, and according to media reports, the strike (which may have started a war) was called off at the last minute.
The Houthi rebels who claimed responsibility for the attack have been linked to Iran via Western intelligence, and this could be the link that an anti-Iranian US Presidential administration uses to launch a full-scale attack on Iran.
A Terrible Equation
Iran has long been a target of US aggression. Unlike Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Iran has the support of both China and Russia, though it is unclear how much help they would receive in the event of a full-scale attack by US and Saudi troops.
On the other hand, Iran does have a massive amount of ballistic missiles that can easily hit Saudi oil infrastructure, and make the current 5% drop in oil throughput look like the good old days.
If this is the beginning of an armed confrontation between Iran and US-backed allies in the Middle East, look for equities to drop by at least 40% from current levels, with gold and oil trading at double their current levels within a month of the first Iranian ballistic missile impacting Saudi oil facilities.