« An indictment for McCabe is not needed to try him, or is it? | Main | What a war with Iran would be ... »

17 September 2019


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

JP Billen

The Saudis covered up the previous Houthi drone and missile attacks. This time they can't because of the large presence of Aramco workers. So they try to fob it off on Iran so as not to lose face. They do not want to admit they were bested by the little guys.

Pompom is covering up for Saudi incompetence.


Terrance, a controlled demolition of an entire building would require hundreds of man-hours of work in surveying and the precise placement of explosive and the routing of detonating cord or wiring. To do that would require the demolition of office tenant fitouts, suspended ceilings and security features within occupied office space. This would have been somewhat obvious, and could not have been done overnight.
Any theoretical 'bombers' themselves could not have just wandered in disguised as airconditioning repairmen.
People always look for explanations, but this theory is not practical.

The Twisted Genius

Doug, Houthi cruise missiles would fly pretty damned low. I doubt ground-based radar would pick them up. Satellite and airborne surveillance platforms is another story.


of course the Yemeni's staged this attack,

sure the Yemeni's get a bit of help from Iran but it's a fraction of the support the Saudi's get from FUKUS,

if we pulled every western technician out of Saudi tomorrow the entire country would probably grind to a halt in a few weeks.

although I've been aware that the Yemeni's have been developing their own branches of missiles and UAV's I must admit this oil installation attack appears much more sophisticated than I'd thought possible up till now,

in the desperation to pin this on Iran no one seems to want to point out the attack appears to have come in from the north east, Yemen is to the south, Iran is to the east and Iraq is to the north,

I don't know if the chosen direction of the final run in to target was for operational reasons or to further confound analysis and obfuscate attribution, one can only speculate,

that this event has spawned numerous 'theories' isn't unusual given the scarcity of hard facts, the economic and strategic significance of the target, the current US/Iranian friction, Netanyahu's fragile hold on power in the face of another election and Israel's incessant banging on about bombing Iran for decades,

all in all you have to admit the Yemeni's have pulled off quite a spectacular stunt!

go Yemen!


JohnH, Walrus et al

I have no engineering expertise but aren't these two very different types of tank. The Aramco tanks look like they were designed to hold gas at high pressure and would be of much thicker steel also, as there would be no oxidants in the tank, the gas would not burn until clear of the tank and mixed with enough air. Fire would not get into the tank until it was almost empty and the pressure equalised.


So the US government is asserting that the forces and surveillance that we have in place are unable to detect, much less stop, an attack on Saudi oil production. It took two days to even figure out what happened. If you take the government statement at face value, that seems scarier than Houthis with drones.


TTG, to continue from your second last sentence: We once had an attack exercise on a bulk iron ore loading facility (features: ocean, night, rain). We were able to inflict a theoretical 3 month reduction of 98% of it's capacity with 20Kg of hand-placed shaped charges on a specific and relatively small piece of equipment that was actually undefended by the Infantry company in situ.
I do not know what terminal guidance these Iranian-inspired but Yemeni-launched platforms have, but I suspect that for now their HE weight / CEP will limit them to kills only on large sized targets.
Unfortunately, these abound. If the Yemenis succeed in blowing an empty B777 on the ground at King Abdulaziz International, with timely local intel, then both the airline operators and their insurers will likely give Saudi airspace a miss - not a bad payoff for shots worth probably @ USD $5,000.

Norbert M Salamon

I was referring to the ability of remaining major producers and Wall Street types to raise and maintain prices much above $60/barrel without crashing the western economies, plus developed Far East, regardless of KSA Us strategic reserve and other production issues.


My concern is that they will use their IADS in chaotic and frightful ways.
By now numerous Saudi AD people will have been given the blame for last week's failure, and their replacements will be ready to use those Patriots and Hawks against any possible threat. Although the suppliers are providing the maintenance contract servicing, I believe that launch command authority and targeting are in Saudi RSADF hands.
When the next UAV swarm attacks occur, I suggest that civilian airline aircraft within range would be at risk.


And they could fly slow as well, such as over a 4-lane highway during their night ingress phase. In doing so they would probably not paint on AD radar as moving targets (as well as being passed by Saudi 'Princes' in fast cars).
Although the Iranian-sourced PR photos show a laminar 'high-speed' wing, much could be done with simple hydraulics to fit retractable slow speed lift devices that could be cleaned up prior to a higher speed terminal phase.
These really are devilish little things, and will present a great threat when used within the Iranian's 'swarm' doctrines.


You are not comparing apples with apples. The korean images are of concrete oil tanks. The abqaiq tanks are gas tanks - entirely different design and technology. They are thick walled pressure vessels. The korean tank steel. roof has not melted either, it simply got hot enough to soften to the point where it can’t support its own weight so it just folded up.


Yes...and notice the symmetry (exactly in the same place on all 4 tanks) of the holes on the 4 storage tanks(which actually represent blow-out pressure valve locations according to informed sources...not punctures from projectiles). Remarkable accuracy of ordinance vs pressure blow-out valves doing their job?


An alternate take on the situation which is also plausible from the Asia Times:

"Indeed, Russian and Turkish pressure on Iran’s President Rouhani to withdraw Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps forces from Syria might have motivated Saturday’s drone and/or cruise missile attack on Saudi oil production plants, strategic analysts in several countries believe. The IRGC may have instigated the attacks to preempt a deal that would have reduced its forces in Syria after a bloody multi-year campaign against Sunni rebels backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

As a collateral benefit, torpedoing any possible chance for a Trump-Rouhani meeting at the upcoming New York United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) may have been another aim.

IRGC Commander Qasem Suleimani controls a state within the Iranian state and envisions a permanent Iranian presence in Syria anchored by Shi’ite military settlers recruited from Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as Iran. Russia and Turkey oppose Suleimani’s ambitious scheme and have considerable leverage to bring to bear on Iran’s elected government. The attack on the Aramco oil plant at Abqaiq and the Khurais oil field may have been a power play by the IRGC to prevent Rouhani from restricting IRGC operations in Syria.

Iran’s ambitions in Syria have also raised concerns in Moscow. Although Russia and Iran both back the Assad regime against Syrian rebels, Russia is anxious to limit the presence of the IRGC in Syria now that the threat to its Syrian ally has receded. Earlier this year, Russian-backed militias clashed with the IRGC in Aleppo.

According to sources with detailed knowledge of Putin’s thinking, Iran’s aggressiveness in Syria complicates Russia’s relationship with the United States as well as with Israel, the region’s strongest military power. Russia has looked the other way while Israel conducted hundreds of airstrikes inside Syria against Iranian forces and their allies, including Hezbollah, although Russia has occasionally complained about particular Israeli attacks. Meanwhile, Russia reportedly uses Israeli-designed drones for reconnaissance in Syria. Russia’s working relationship with the Israeli Defense Forces is chilly but efficient. Israel prefers the predictable Assad regime to the Sunni jihadists who might replace it, and Russia has no objection to Israel’s efforts to degrade Iranian military capabilities.

At a Sept. 12 summit in Sochi, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Russian President Putin reportedly agreed to remove Iranian bases in Syria to a line 80 kilometers from the Israeli border.

Security analysts speculate that Rouhani was ready to accept Putin’s demand and that the IRGC acted to pre-empt such an agreement.

Details of the attack on the Saudi oil facilities remain sketchy. At a background press briefing today, Defense Department officials affirmed that the attacks came from the north, that is, from the southern tip of Iraq or Iran. The Defense Department believes that the 19 impacts came from both drones and cruise missiles, although it cannot confirm that. Remarkably, there is no evidence that any air defenses attempted to engage the incoming weapons, or that radar tracked any of the weapons before impact."

The absence of evidence suggests what a former Pentagon official described as a “colossal intelligence failure.” The US has no good options available to counter this act militarily.


The parallels between Saudi Arabia and Louis XVI's France seem striking to me. Just a revenue fall was missing

The loosening of the screws, the hope of reform may make social and economic inferiors act on their discontent. The discontented abund - recently dispossessed royal branches, minorities, foreign servants treated as slaves, even expats eager to drink alcohol in public. If there are those willing to supply them with weapons....and with such rich spoils there will be

It's one step to women knitting by the light of Bugatti La Voiture Noires in flames.


I have an ex-RAAF tech friend with similar stories. On the first night of Saddam's contribution to GW1, he woke up to sirens and wild screaming from outside the window, where he saw hundreds of panicked Saudi military personnel running aimlessly in circles.
Then someone in his chain opened the door and threw him a set of NBC gear and a pistol and told to get to the shelter due inbound air strike.
His stories included Saudi trainees working on live 415 volt AC avionics 'without a care in the world'.


Another issue - drones as such

Anyone can get one. No oversight whatsoever.
A neighbour is fooling around with a drone. I am thanking my lucky stars that it isn't noiseless, as the guy is a nosy Parker, could easily put a camera on it and visit around uninvited.

We are increasingly exploited without our knowledge, let alone our consent. Alexa. Secretly-installed software on phones. Remotely-activated smart appliances, cameras and microphones on personal devices. Leaks of personal data by banks and medical institutions. Lies by pharmaceutical and foodstuff companies. Faulty manufacturing processes in airplane companies

Honestly? It's getting a bit much.

Maybe it's time to tell the companies Enough Is Enough. And mean it. And take control over our lives back.


Fantasy, but a good fantasy.

What relationship does the Russian Federation have with the United States but one of managed hostility?


Agree on both points.

Where's ARAMCO going to get the capital needed? What's going to happen to their long term bonds? Who would bet on getting paid back?

And there is the wider issue of the perceived decline of the West (USA, Europe, Japan, etc.) It's clear to me there has been and is a stronger perception of Western weakness in most of the World outside the West. Perceptions of one's strengths/weaknesses combined with that of others often result in decisions regardless of reality.

As I understand it, bringing objectivity is a if not the major function of each country's intelligence services. I hope they, and especially we, are good at it. And attention is paid to it.

Keith Harbaugh

Re: "The Saudi are laze and untrainable. they cannot defend themselves no matter how much equipment they buy."
I certainly do not want to question the truth of that (I have zero insight into this matter), but do wonder if that is the case how the current dynasty came to rule the geographical area that they do rule. Cf.

Keith Harbaugh

Further study of Wikipedia shows their by far most detailed article on the subject is:


Keith Harbaugh

The House of al-Saud were fighting other "benighted" medieval warriors in the process of unifying what is at the moment Saudi Arabia. They were lucky. Rusty rifles and equipment that you really have little interest in won't "do it" any more.


Thx. This (LNG not very flammable) probably explains the lack of apparent secondary damage on the "onions". I had a hard time imagining how four perfect holes in a row wouldn't lead to more of mess in the immediate area.


John I work in West Texas at a facility that has NGL vessels. ours are shaped differently, but are still thick-walled stainless steel pressure vessels containing what is essentially a mixture of butane, propane, ethane, etc that is removed during the crude oil stabilization process to be later shipped via pipeline to be further broken down into their individual components.
If you were to knock a hole in the vessel with a charge of some sort, it would burn like a big ass Bic lighter until all the gas pressure blew down. There would be little in the way of smoke marks on the vessel except for some melted insulation and no vessel failure except for the initial hole. (No vessel failure is assuming the flame wasn’t shooting out onto an adjacent vessel, weakening it.)

Unhinged Citizen

The Colonel appears to be correct. Here are the remains of the drones, showing a mix of cruise missile type weapons and much smaller drones, resembling what would a generation ago be called RC aircraft:


Perhaps it was a mixed attack, like the Israelis have demonstrated against Syrian air defenses: a swarm of smaller, cheaper drones confuses and over-saturates the defensive capabilities of the air defense system operators, while the missiles with larger payloads deliver the knock-out blow.


I am coming across very persistent briefing saying that the US absolutley knows the cruise missiles and drones came from Iran.

But if that were so, these missiles would have gone very close to or even right over US military facilities in the area. Centcom and naval facilities. Did they not attempt to shoot those projectiles down. Did they see then?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

My Photo

August 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          
Blog powered by Typepad