On September 14, 2019, nineteen targets at the Aramco Abqaiq processing facility and the Khurais oil field were struck from the air with pinpoint accuracy, resulting in the destruction of no less than half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production capability. This represented the loss of 5% of petroleum on the world market.
The Houthis of Yemen, who have for years been subjected to a genocidal Saudi Sunni sectarian war against their Shi’ite community, claimed that ten of their drones carried out the attacks. But these proxies of the Islamic Republic of Iran could hardly have had the capability to fly such sophisticated drones so deep into Saudi Arabia, and ten drones cannot hit nineteen separate targets. Further analysis suggested that the targets had all been hit from an angle of approach that pointed toward either Iran or Iraq as the staging ground, and that cruise missiles were used to hit many of the targets.
The drones may have been nothing but a ruse. The Houthi claim of responsibility does, however, rule out the possibility that this was some elaborate false flag operation staged by Neo-Cons.
Intelligence analysts initially ventured the possibility that the attacks actually originated in southern Iraq, where, in response to Israeli airstrikes, Hashd-al-Shabih, a Shi’ite militia loyal to Iran recently declared its intention to develop its own airforce. Kuwaitis witnessed unknown aircraft passing through their airspace on the night of the incident, and emanating from the direction of either Iraq or Iran itself. On Monday, September 16, the United States, which maintains a significant presence in Iraq, including radar capabilities, informed the Iraqis that the attacks did not originate on their territory or violate their airspace.
If Iran is indeed responsible for the attacks on Saudi oil production, this would demonstrate an Iranian military competence on par with the most capable armed forces of the world.
In any case, the fact that, several days after the operation, there is still no definitive evidence of the path that the objects took, demonstrates that the objects – whether drones or missiles or both – successfully evaded the radar of Saudi Arabia and possibly other countries as well. The flight path and the point of origin of the attack may be reconstructed by other means at the disposal of US intelligence agencies with classified satellite reconnaissance capabilities. Yet among the tens of billions in military hardware purchased from the United States by Saudi Arabia are state of the art radar installations that cover the Kingdom’s airspace.
This means that the operation was so sophisticated that whoever was responsible for it managed to identify all of the holes in Saudi radar coverage and to guide the aircraft and/or missiles through these holes over a distance of hundreds of kilometers before hitting their targets with high precision. If Iran is indeed responsible, this would demonstrate an Iranian military competence on par with the most capable armed forces of the world.
There is one other possibility: Iran has developed stealth aircraft, either manned or unmanned, armed with precision missiles. There have been rumors of unconventional Iranian stealth aircraft for several years now, including speculations that these aircraft were used in the capture of a number of American and Israeli drones, which were landed intact, and reverse engineered. Aside from being one of the top drone designers in the world, Iran is also among a handful of the most advanced nations in the domain of cyber-warfare (of the kind used, on board these unconventional aircraft, to take control of American and Israeli drones).