Saturday, 24 June 2017

After Shocking Saudi Shakeup "Not A Question Of If But When New Escalation With Iran Starts"

Two days ago, when reporting on the surprising "terrorist attempt" by Iran's National Guard on a major Saudi offshore oilfiled (at least according to Saudi media), we said that "if the Saudi account of events is accurate, and if Iran is indeed preparing to take out Saudi oil infrastructure in retaliation or otherwise, the simmering cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is about to get very hot." This in turn followed an earlier analysis on the ongoing Syrian war in which we said that "the next major regional conflict appears set to be between Saudi Arabia and Iran. All it needs is a catalyst."

That catalyst, according to energy consultancy Petromatrix, may have been revealed overnight with the stunning Saudi royal shakeup in which the King announced he was stripping the current Crown Prince, his nephew Mohamed bin Nayef (MBF), of all titles and obligations, and replacing him with his son Mohamed bin Salman (MBS).

Summarizing the event, Petromatrix analyst Olivier Jakob wrote that "the day starts with the Saudi Crown Prince sent to retirement and replaced by the deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). MBS was already the strong hand in Saudi Arabia, this latest development, and the purge that goes with it, confirms that he is the de-facto king of Saudi Arabia. Under his watch, Saudi Arabia has developed aggressive foreign policies (Yemen, Qatar...) and he has not been shy about making strong statements against Iran."

The punchline: "with MBS now having greater control of Saudi Arabia and with Jared Kushner having a large control of the White House it is not really a question of if but rather of when a new escalation with Iran starts."

It looks like the powers that be want a confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Even a limited exchange would be a boon for the oil price (at least in the short term) and for military spending in the region.

However, without outside help the Saudis in this conflict will be severely damaged. Outright invasions will be off the table so it'll be down to airstrikes and missile attacks. Iranian missiles are likely to devastate critical areas of Saudi oil infrastructure and perhaps military infrastructure. The US reaction would likely be to defend the Saudis, while the Iranians would have a level of Russian help. The amount of damage that Saudi aircraft could do to Iran is questionable, although attacks on their power grid would also be devastating. A short term confrontation may occur. The result of this will be to widen the schism between Russian and its allies and the West.

For all the above reasons, plus the opportunity for the Israelis to bomb Iranian nuclear sites, the likelihood that this war will be pushed by players behind the scenes is very high.


CNN just aired a story with this title: The images Saudi Arabia doesn't want you to see. Is this an indication that the Saudis are going to be thrown under the bus? or are they being leveraged to back down on their overall war plans? (CNN = CIA/Deep State)
[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, June 24th, 2017.]

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