Saudi Arabia said explosive-laden drones had struck oil pumping stations in the Riyadh region on Tuesday in what it called an act of terrorism two days after Saudi oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
Lebanon’s al-Mayadin TV was the first to report the oil tanker incident before it actually took place with some inconsistencies in detail. Iranian state-run media immediately followed suit.
Today, the Houthi-run Masirah TV cited a military official saying the Houthis had launched the drone attacks on “vital Saudi installations”.
The Houthis are backed by the Iranian regime.
According to a US official, an initial U.S. assessment indicated Iran was likely behind the attack on two Saudi Arabian oil tankers and two other vessels.
The assessment, while not conclusive, was the first suggestion by any nation that Iran was responsible for the attack and comes after a series of U.S. warnings against aggression by Iran or its allies and proxies against military or commercial vessels in the region.
Iranian regime at crossroads
The Iranian regime is extremely afraid of war and even limited and periodic military confrontations with the US. The regime is facing intensive and sweeping sanctions on one hand, and the US’s heavy military presence close to home on the other. It is under such circumstances that Iranian President Rouhani recently said that the regime was in war like conditions. According to senior regime officials, the regime has never faced such conditions in its 40-year history.
Rouhani even said that current conditions were even worse than those during the 8 year Iran-Iraq war when sanctions only included Iran’s armament.
Iran is now at a crossroads, though both roads will eventually lead to its downfall. The regime cannot engage in a military confrontation and it cannot back down from its nuclear and missile ambitions or its regional interventions as they have guaranteed its survival till now.
Therefore, it is trying to use scare tactics instead to threaten and push it’s for being careful not to directly enter military confrontations in an attempt to show that a military conflict with Iran would carry a high price for the US and its allies in the region.
The heavy cost of conflict with Iran
The state-run Kayhan newspaper affiliated with the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei analyzed the US’s tactics against Iran in an article titled “How to stop the enemy’s economic war”.
“The US has concluded that an economic war, coupled with compelling Iran to give new golden concessions, will not carry a price for America and its allies in the region. Our solution is to change America’s assumption”, the daily wrote on May 13.
“Our solution to the enemy’s economic warfare is to strike out against an enemy that has assumed combat position against us in the economic and commercial spheres,” Kayhan added.
“We have no limitations in terms of an economic blow to the enemy; the US’s affiliates or in other words, the US’s oil keepers in the region, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are heavily dependent on two things: one is oil and the other is their glass skyscrapers, which have been built around the Gulf Coast and the Red Sea.”
The daily then bluntly concludes that the regime “has to deal a serious blow to the oil export capacity of the two countries” which it called their “vital artery”.
The use of local and regional mercenaries has been one of the fundamentals for the regime’s survival during its 40-year rule. While their service is vital for the regime, it has been a disaster for the region and the world.
In the very first years of the US occupation of Iraq in 2003, the Iranian regime began to directly intervene in Iraq. It dominated its neighbor with the establishment of its own forces, namely the Badr Brigades. It then started meddling in Syria after buying Bashar al-Assad. The regime now has proxies in Lebanon, Yemen and Afghanistan and all the way to the Mediterranean. It was with this card that the regime was able to score huge points in nuclear talks.
The question is whether the regime can still play this card under current circumstances. As far as Iran is concerned, this is still it’s the best card.
However, the equation has now changed to the Iran’s disadvantage.
All of its meddling, proxy wars, and terrorism in the region were carried out during the golden era of appeasing the mullahs in Iran. They were all based on the regime’s presumption that under no circumstances would the US actually carry out military attacks against the regime.
This is why Khamenei, still trying to play his old cards, recently said that “there would be no war” while at the same time adding that the regime would not enter into talks with the US.
The Trump administration has repeatedly said that the US did not want war and that it would only respond if Iran strikes first. The US has also stipulated that it stands with the people of Iran who do not want the regime.