Iran’s bellicose foreign minister warned of “all-out war” if the U.S. or Saudi Arabia retaliate for the Iranian drone strike on Saudi oil fields. Javad Zarif also asked if the Saudis were willing to fight “to the last American soldier.”
Obviously, Zarif reads the New York Times.
The warning came as Trump’s national security team is meeting to discuss whether military action should be taken against the terrorist state. The meeting takes place against the backdrop of further confirmation that the drone strike on the Saudi oil fields, that cut the Kingdom’s oil output in half, was approved at the highest level of the Iranian government.
First, a Trump Administration official told ABC News on Wednesday it was Iran that launched the attack using “a dozen cruise missiles and over 20 drones from its territory.”
At the time, military analysts were still not sure whether the strike was launched from a place in southern Iraq or southwestern Iran near the mouth of the Persian Gulf.
However, on Thursday, a CBS News report shed more light on the location where the strike was planned and carried out, quoting another U.S. official as saying that the United States has access to unpublished satellite images that show IRGC officers preparing the attack at Ahvaz airbase in southwestern Iran.
CBS News added that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei knew about the attack and approved it on the condition that Iran’s involvement could be denied.
So the question is no longer is Iran responsible for the strike — which was really a strike on Western nations that depend on Saudi oil — but rather what, if anything, should the United States do about it?
Iran’s threats can be dismissed as pure bluster. But a Saudi-Iran open confrontation would be extremely dangerous for the entire region. Currently, the two enemies are engaged in a proxy war in Yemen with the Kingdom supporting the government while Iran is backing Houthi rebels. But the entire character of the conflict would change if the two sides went to war.
A Saudi war with Iran would mean the involvement of other Sunni Arab states in the Gulf arrayed against Iran and possibly Shiite Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon joining Tehran. Needless to say, the economic disruptions, not to mention the humanitarian crisis that would ensue, would affect every nation on earth.
The U.S. military has the capability to deliver targeted strikes, perhaps on Iran’s missile and drone facilities, while limiting the loss of life. That would be infinitely better than the Saudis, who are already engaged in Yemen, forcing Iran to respond to an attack by launching their own strike on Iranian oil facilities.
Democrats have a new line of attack: Iran’s strike was Trump’s fault. (If only Barack Obama was still president!) Realistically, there is likely to be some grumbling among Trump supporters if the U.S. attacks Iran, but the nation as a whole will probably support the president.