Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Saudi Schmaudi

It seems to me that the politicians, pundits and people in general are largely overlooking the most important implications of the recent attack on Saudi oil processing facilities. I can't judge the credibility of recent U.S. and Saudi claims that the attack was launched from Iranian territory, but I will accept that Occam's razor supports the conclusion that the perpetrator was some faction allied with Iran, with or without the endorsement of Ayatollah Kahmenei. Let's leave that aside for the moment.

Here's the geography:

A map showing Saudi oil strikes

Notice that if the attack was launched from Iranian territory, the devices flew over the Gulf (called the Arabian or Persian Gulf depending on which side of it you are on) over U.S. naval vessels equipped with the Aegis combat system, which is designed to detect and neutralize airborne threats. Saudi Arabia, for its part, has spent untold tens of billions of dollars on high-technology air defense systems from the United States, including radar systems, Patriot missiles, and more stuff some of which is probably classified and not even known to the public. In fact on paper the Saudi military is the most powerful in the region. Presumably Saudi air defenses are configured primarily to defend against an attack coming from Iran. 

The claim is specifically that it was possible to knock out more than half of Saudi oil production capacity using cheap gadgets that the Iranians made themselves; and that it took more than four days for the Saudis and Americans to figure out where they came from. (The U.S. uses Tomahawk missiles that cost more than $1 million apiece for this sort of attack, and they can be shot down by the kind of systems possessed by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.) Presumably Iran has plenty more of these drones or cruise missiles (I'm not actually sure what the distinction is supposed to be), and note that it's only another 50 miles from Khurais to Riyadh.

If the Aegis Combat System and Saudi air defenses are really that worthless, it's going to give other people ideas, and maybe give the people who did this additional ideas of their own. It also represents an extraordinary admission on the part of the U.S., which sells these systems to nations all over the world. I'm not going to dwell on the implications of all this, you can figure it out for yourselves.


Mark P said...

Well, of course, I no longer believe anything that comes from the US government. I want to hear from British, French or German intelligence.

You correctly point out the elephant in the room. Does the Saudi and US air defense work about as well as the Patriot did in Gulf War 1, which was essentially not at all?

Dr Porkenheimer said...

When the US was dependent on foreign and the Saudis were a major foreign source, protecting that source was much more important than it is today so I'm assuming that our interest in the region is stability rather than strategic commodities.

And I'm not really on board with defending the Saudis who are rich and have a strong army. Let them have a go at Iran first if they want.

I think Tulsi said it best. We're not the Saudis' bitch.

mojrim said...

The problem with that logic is that (as with all commodities) there's only one global oil market in which all buyers and sellers participate. A decrease in supply from any source ultimately increases prices across the globe. Despite that I'm willing to let the regime burn, both for environmental and human rights reasons.

Dr Porkenheimer said...

Human rights issue bothers me a lot. Especially how they treat Christians.

Cervantes said...

Well actually the problem is more how they treat Muslims. The kingdom is governed by Muslim religious law, so Christians are there only as guest workers and live in enclaves. However, the government oppresses its Shiite minority, has discriminatory laws against women, and treats dissidents as criminals subject to draconian punishments. Wealthy Saudis including members of the ruling family have sponsored extremist organizations that have committed violence abroad, including the 9/11 attackers. I don't single out Christians for concern, but they are definitely bad dudes.

mojrim said...

The only christians in SA are guest workers, mostly Philipina catholics. Aside from not being permitted public worship (as with any non-sunni) they're treated about as well as everyone else. That is, to say, horribly.

The worst results fall on muslim guest workers, especially female domestics from Bangladesh and Indonesia, who have basically no rights. Their work/living conditions are described as "near-slavery" by HRW. In addition to the ~150 public beheadings (they built a stadium for this) there are an unknown number of on-the-spot executions* by the morality police, often of female guest workers. It's the second most barbaric place on earth today.

So far as I'm concerned it's not a country but a vast slave labor/prison camp with three classes of residents: the Al Saud crime family, the prison guards/overseers, and their victims.

*Not to mention the 2002 girls' school fire.

Cervantes said...

Yeah, we're on the same page here. BTW the royal family is totally corrupt and they drink and whore and gamble in European resorts. Their piety is totally fake.

mojrim said...

I know we are, Cervantes, that was mostly aimed at Porkenheimer.

I'll actually go further vis the Al Saud: they are not muslims at all but engaged in a 1300 year-old revenge scheme. They come from the Banu Bakr sept of the Banu Hanifa, a then-Christian tribe that converted to Islam around 630-632. After Mohammed's death they rebelled under the leadership of a member and competing prophet, Maslamah ibn Habib. He was killed by the forces of Abu Bakr 30km north of the tribal stronghold of Hadjr, now know as Riyadh.

This all sounds like a wacko conspiracy theory, but... Given that they have bulldozed Mecca to put up a casino/shopping mall complex and put a public toilet on the site of his daughter Fatimah's home, I don't think it's too implausible.

Cervantes said...

Well I don't know anything about all that, but more recently around 1800 the House of Saud made enemies of Shia and the Ottomans. First they conquered Karbala and destroyed the shrines, while massacring some 5,000 civilians. In revenge, king Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad was assassinated. Then Ibrahim Pasha destroyed their kingdom and had Abdullah bin Saud's head thrown into the Bosporus.

Dr Porkenheimer said...

While I stated I don't like any of the Saudi's human rights abuses...Of course I would give special consideration and concern to Christians.

It's called identity politics.

Cervantes said...

Nope. It's called bigotry.