‘They’d be toast’: Saudis’ weakness

Experts say Saudi Arabia won't directly criticise Iran over last weekend's oil strikes because they know they'll be "toast" in a full-blown conflict.

The panel analysed the world response to last weekend's crippling attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure and explained why the Saudi government seems hesitant to explicitly accuse Iran of carrying out the strikes, Fox News reports.

"If you look at the sophistication of the attack, the ranges of the weapons used, and how this was perpetrated, it can only be Iran really," Lieutenant Colonel Dakota Wood, a retired Marine and Senior Research Fellow for Defence Program at the Heritage Foundation, told Fox Nation's Deep Dive.

At a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, the Saudis displayed broken and burned drones and pieces of a cruise missile that military spokesman Colonel Turki Al-Malki identified as Iranian weapons collected after the attack.

Tehran has denied that it carried out the attacks and Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility.

Speaking from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Iran was responsible for the attack, telling reporters the strike was "an act of war".

 

A panel of experts have explained why the Saudi government seems hesitant to explicitly accuse Iran of carrying out the strikes. Picture: US Government/Digital Globe via AP
A panel of experts have explained why the Saudi government seems hesitant to explicitly accuse Iran of carrying out the strikes. Picture: US Government/Digital Globe via AP

However, The Wall Street Journal notes that the Saudis have stopped short of explicitly accusing Iran of conducting the strikes.

Lt-Col Wood concluded that the Saudi's were not pointing the finger squarely at Tehran because that may cause an escalation in an already fraught situation in the region.

"If (Saudi Arabia) names Iran as the aggressor then it's beholden … that they have to respond in some ways," Lt-Col Wood said.

"Is their military, which is well-equipped, is it tactically competent? And then are they willing to suffer the consequences of some kind of a conflict when they are so dependent on this energy infrastructure."

Judith Miller, adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Pulitzer-winning journalist and Fox News contributor said the Saudis knew they were not able to defeat Iran in a full-blown conflict.

 

Earlier in the week the Saudis displayed broken and burned drones and pieces of a cruise missile that military spokesman Colonel Turki Al-Malki identified as Iranian weapons collected after the attack. Picture: Planet Labs Inc via AP
Earlier in the week the Saudis displayed broken and burned drones and pieces of a cruise missile that military spokesman Colonel Turki Al-Malki identified as Iranian weapons collected after the attack. Picture: Planet Labs Inc via AP

"The Saudis either don't believe the Americans or don't want to believe the Americans, because they don't want to be saddled with the burden to respond militarily to Iran because they understand that in such a contest they would be toast," said Miller.

She added that US President Donald Trump had found himself in a difficult situation, as members of his own party were pushing him to engage the Iranians over this aggression.

"It is the Republicans, Lindsey Graham, General Jack Keane … who really are demanding that something be done … lest we risk even more aggressive action on the part of the Iranians, who at this point may think that they can get away with everything," Miller said.

Saturday's attack on Saudi Arabia was the most damaging blow on the Middle Eastern kingdom in more than four years of civil war in Yemen.

Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in response to the years-long Saudi-led war in Yemen that has killed tens of thousands of people.

Saudi Arabia, which has been involved in a bloody four-and-a-half-year conflict in neighbouring Yemen, said that Iran "unquestionably sponsored" the attacks and the weapons, but stopped short of directly blaming it for orchestrating the strikes.

Mr Trump stopped short of directly accusing the Iranian government of being behind the attack, but he did confirm a retaliatory attack was on the table.

Asked in Los Angeles yesterday whether the US would consider a retaliatory strike on Iran, he said: "There are many options. There's the ultimate option and there are options a lot less than that."

Recently, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, tweeted that the President's "measured" response to the downing of a US drone over the Strait of Hormuz this summer emboldened the regime.

 

 

Mr Trump responded to Senator Graham tweeting, "No Lindsey, it was a sign of strength that some people just don't understand!"

The Wall Street Journal's assistant editorial features editor, Jason Willick added that Saudi Arabia's apparent unwillingness to take on the Iranians may complicate the President's plan to reduce the US footprint in the Middle East.

"The strategy for us leaving could have been to empower allies … the Gulf States and Israel to create a balance of power with Iran and the question is if Iran is just going to totally break the balance then that's not going to create more instability or a situation in which we can leave," he said.


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