As scheduled, the Saudi defense ministry held a press conference on Wednesday to present the results of the kingdom’s “investigation” into the attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais that crippled 50% of Aramco’s production capacity last weekend.
They brought along some “Iranian-made” drones and missiles or, for the skeptics among you, some stage props.
The attacks were “unquestionably sponsored by Iran”, the ministry said, with debris splayed about like some kind of war-themed modern art installation.
The Saudis called the wreckage “undeniable” evidence of Iranian aggression, adding that a total of 25 drones and missiles were deployed in the attacks which, contrary to Houthi claims, were launched from the north, not from Yemen.
Turki al-Maliki cited “Iran’s efforts” to obscure flight paths, but said “data analysis of the attack sites indicate weapons of Iranian origin”.
All of that echoes Mike Pompeo’s Saturday tweet, delivered with remarkable rapidity and couched in very definitive terms considering how little time had elapsed since the strikes. Due primarily to the Trump administration’s massive credibility deficit (and also to a generalized mistrust of the Saudis) Pompeo’s claims have been a source of continual skepticism in the days since the attacks.
“We are working right now to share the information that we have from the data, from the chips, with the United Nations experts”, al-Maliki went on to say.
Iran on Tuesday again denied being directly responsible, but praised the Houthis for carrying out the attacks. As ever, it’s worth noting that false flag theories need to explain why the Houthis continue to insist on claiming the attacks and why Tehran continues to brag about their success on behalf of their Yemeni proxy. (Quds commander Qasem Soleimani tweeted a cryptic celebration hours after the strikes on Saturday.)
Pompeo was set to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed in Jeddah on Wednesday and the US is said to be preparing a declassified version of its own intelligence for public release.
Fears of imminent retaliatory strikes on Iran were allayed a bit on Wednesday when Trump announced “substantial” new sanctions in a morning tweet. It’s at least possible that means the administration is clinging to the idea that sanctions are preferable to military action when it comes to “changing Iran’s behavior” (as Pompeo is fond of putting it).
Of course, there’s really not much left for the administration to sanction – we’ve reached Spinal Tap territory at this juncture (“These sanctions go to ’11′”).
Suffice to say the public has already decided what they want to believe with regard to the attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais, so none of this is likely to make much of a difference.
That the Houthis continue to insist not only on having perpetrated the attacks, but on their intention to stage similar strikes in the future, means the only real question here is whether anybody can come up with stone, cold proof that Iran attacked the Saudis directly, because that’s when the various “proxy” wars morph into direct, sectarian conflict between Riyadh and Tehran.