Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Saudi Arabia’ Category

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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Aramco, the world’s most profitable company, is going to go public. Aramco is the Saudi Arabian oil company. Kinda a big deal, but only superficially. Basically when all is said and done, people who already have more money than they could spend in a dozen lifetimes will be even richer. Most of the world’s stock is already owned by the rich, and it’s just getting worse all the time. The petrodollar is the biggest bubble in history, gonna be loads of fun when it all crashes down. I plan on being long dead by the time that happens; it’s a good plan, it’s realistic, and I’m sticking with it.

I do however plan to stick around for the human return to the Moon. In 2024 if all goes well, though honestly that’s pretty optimistic. I came into this world with the launch of the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik, in 1957. Humans returning to the Moon makes a logical endpoint to my run. And if we haven’t returned to the Moon by 2024, why, I’ll live longer! I always try to have flexibility in my life plans. Makes it more believable when one says “I meant to do that!

For a bit of a different view on Trump’s current troubles, I recommend this read. I would have to agree with most of it, certainly far closer to the truth than CNN or Fox. I know it must be weird living in a country where the mainstream news narrative is simply a government propaganda organ. In America, we’ve done even better, we have two mainstream medias delivering a propaganda narrative to their respective watchers. Even George Orwell didn’t see this one coming. In any event, I have no idea how Trump’s troubles will turn out, but guaranteed the USA people will get the short end of the stick no matter what happens. Here’s one more good article on our endless wars, depressing.

Less depressing, more fun. The image at the top of the page, a Sailor’s Eyeball. One of the world’s largest single celled organisms. AKA Ventricaria ventricosa, it’s a type of algae. It can grow to the size of, well, an eyeball. And if squished, it just forms multiple eyeballs. Unlike most cells, Ventricaria ventricosa has multiple nuclei. Learn something new every day. For example, I just learned that nucleuses is an acceptable plural form of nucleus. Well, not to my spell checker apparently.

Cosmology has run into a little problem. OK, a big problem. In fact some are calling it a crisis, which is unfortunate. More on that in a second. The problem is that the Universe is expanding much faster than our understanding of the Universe can account for. Hopefully cosmologists and astronomers will figure out why. I say calling it a crisis is unfortunate, because in these days when science and reason are under assault, this is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. The cranks and religious science deniers will both use that term to claim that it means all of science is unreliable. If scientists can’t even figure out the basics of the Universe, they might be wrong about everything! And the woo and religious myth come marching in. Hell, the Universe’s extra expansion is probably driven by the ever expanding bubble of hot air and ignorance emanating from Washington.

I think I’m getting more cynical as I get older. Moving right along, no one complained about my Halloween Horror  post. Now I have to come up with next year’s, but one thing at a time. I did think of a good post for next April 1st. It involves, cats, DNA, treason, prison, and royalty. Lots of fun. Have a great week everyone.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Ventricaria ventricosa Credit: Haplochromis “I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. In some countries this may not be legally possible; if so: I grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.”)

Written by unitedcats

November 4, 2019 at 3:39 am

THE SOUND OF SHOES DROPPING

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Insurgency in Yemen detailed Map according to published reports. This map’s information is sometimes based on w:Module:Yemeni Civil War detailed map.

Key to map here. Houthis are green, former government red.

There has been another ominous development in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen. It made the news, but mostly in a perfunctory way. Basically on Saturday the Houthis claimed a major military victory over Saudi Arabian forces near the Saudi border city of Najran. (see map above) The Houthis claim that three Saudi brigades surrendered/were captured. Thousands of troops captured, hundreds of AFVs (armored fighting vehicles,) and numerous officers. They say their prisoners will be displayed Sunday, though no word yet. There has as yet been no comment from the Saudi government. It’s hard to imagine why the Houtis would make such a claim if it wasn’t true, hopefully there will be more information before I finish writing and publish this post.

If this news is true, it’s a military disaster of the highest order for Saudi Arabia. Their army only has eleven brigades, so the loss of three of them would more than a quarter of their army. It’s also got to be bad for morale all around. More importantly, if three brigades and thousands of men surrendered, it sure implies that morale was already low in the Saudi army. I mean, this is one of the well equipped armies in the world, they certainly didn’t lose a major battle because they lacked firepower. There’s some even scarier implications, more on that in a bit. (OK, updated news indicates they likely weren’t regular Saudi army brigades.)

There’s not a lot to read about this new attack yet, but it is being reported on. Take note of the narrative that most of the news outlets adhere to. The Houthis are almost always referred to as “Iran backed” or even “Iran aligned.” The implication being that somehow Iran is behind this problem, and the Houthis are just their catspaw. And sometimes that’s simply stated outright. It would be like referring to George Washington and the rebels as “French backed” or “French aligned” rebels. See how weird that sounds? And of course the Houthis are still “rebels” even though the former government was largely driven from Yemen years ago. Apparently the Saudis think if they just bomb Yemen enough, they will see reason and let Saudi Arabia reinstall the government the Yemenis kicked out of the country.

So, aside from being a military disaster, this attack also highlights another little feature of this war that the western press seems determined to ignore. The Houthi are winning. This war has cost Saudi Arabia dearly in blood and money. The Houthis seem to be able to strike at will, they certainly have the initiative. Which, in warfare as in chess, is a big deal. And there’s every reason to believe the Houthis are getting support from inside Saudi Arabia. Mohammad bin Salman (MBS,) the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, has murdered purported political opponents. Tends to hurt one’s popularity. And pointless wars don’t help with popularity either. The possibility that parts of Saudi Arabia might openly revolt, or even worse, is definitely on the table. Wouldn’t be the first time a western supported autocrat fell out of favor with his own people. All the weapons in the world won’t keep a leader in power if the street turns against him.

So God only knows what’s going to happen next. I think MBS has wildly overplayed his hand. And there’s really no one home in the Oval Office. …

Wait, something happened. The Houthis released video. It really doesn’t show much, they claim they can’t release actual video of the attack for security reasons. It does show captured national guardsmen, which implies it wasn’t the Saudi Army that suffered the losses. It also shows quite a few non uniformed prisoners, which they claim are Yemeni refugees the Saudis pressed into service. Plausible enough, but it does imply not quite the stunning victory they claimed. Still, must cheese MBS off.

MBS is a madman, that’s kind of my worry at this point. There’s no real diplomatic way to put it, he came into power and promptly got Saudi Arabia into two wars. The War on Yemen and the War in Syria. Neither has gained Saudi Arabia anything except body bags and ill will. If he wasn’t a US satrap America would be calling him the next Hitler and preparing a “regime change” intervention. The old folks just called these what they were, invasions. He’s been making threats, who knows what he might do to raise the ante.

Lastly, if one wants to see the Washington version of latest developments, read the BBC article. The British Empire never ended, they were just subsumed into the American Empire, and switched to doublespeak with the rest of the west.

Crazy disjointed post, like the times. Next post, police dogs. If something happens between now (Sunday night) and the planned posting time (Monday morning) the post will get more disjointed. Like life.

Have a great week everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Current situation in Yemen. Credit: Koopinator. See map. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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Doug Stych added the city of Najran, and various geographic names in black.)

Written by unitedcats

September 30, 2019 at 3:58 am

THE BLITZKRIEG OF OUR TIME? IS TRUMP UP THE CREEK WITHOUT A PADDLE?

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Attack_on_Pearl_Harbor_Japanese_planes_view2

OK, one last time. All week I have been checking the news obsessively, hoping that the situation with Iran hasn’t deteriorated. And trying to get my head around the Saudi Arabia Abqaiq–Khurais oil facilities attack. I still think it represents a sea change in the region, if not globally. I am also starting to think the attack was brilliant both tactically and strategically. That’s the main reason there has been no response besides threats and power blaming. I’ll likely repeat some things from earlier posts on the topic, but will try to keep it short and to the point.

A year ago Trump effectively went to war with Iran, imposing on Iran the most draconian sanctions ever imposed in peacetime. And Mark Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, presented Iran with a list of twelve demands they must comply with. If they comply,  maybe the US will think about lifting the sanctions. The demands are outrageous, the sort of demands one imposes on a vanquished enemy or a defenceless country. (See Appendix I at bottom.) Iran is neither. And Trump is pretty much going this alone, aside from being cheered on by Israel and Saudi Arabia.

So what’s Iran to do? They can’t comply with the demands, no nation would agree to be another nation’s slave basically. Diplomacy is out, Trump doesn’t want to talk. And while most of the world doesn’t go along with Trump bullying Iran, there’s not a lot they can do besides a certain amount of passive resistance. Iran can’t just go to war with the US, even though it would be perfectly reasonable under the circumstances. That would be national suicide. If they do nothing, the situation continues to deteriorate in Iran, with all the while the possibility that the war will get worse. They basically had their hands tied.

And then the attack happened. Whether it was the Houthis or Iran, the big lesson is that it could happen again. And the west seems unable to defend against the possibility. For a long time people have been pointing out how soft the world’s infrastructure is, let alone things like oil storage and refining. And that the idea that it could all be defended against by a clever attacker was a pipe dream. You can’t defend everything. Which is why wars should be the last resort, not the first.  I wish I could express how paradigm breaking this attack was. It was like Pearl Harbor, but since no one died, few are paying real attention to what is going on. Well, outside of astute military types. The Blitzkreig of our day has been revealed, what to do?

This is why the US nor Saudi Arabia has responded yet to the attacks. Iran and /or the Houthis may well have thousands of drones and cruise missiles aimed at dozens of very soft but very economically valuable targets in the region. And right now, the west has no real way to defend against these attacks. Yes, Trump is sending troops to Saudi Arabia, pretty much an admission that he has no good options. What are the troops going to do, shoot down the next drone attack? Yeah, that’s not going to work.

So what’s going to happen now? If the US or Saudi Arabia were going to retaliate, likely they would have done so. The US doesn’t even have a reason to retaliate, Saudi Arabia isn’t a US allie. And the new Crown Prince’s wars and repression aren’t actually helping America’s interests in the region. As at least one wag has pointed out, Trump is about “America first” except when it comes to Israel and Saudi Arabia. Honestly, Trump’s a fool and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is a madman. I think they will stay the course, and the best thing that could happen is another attack by the Houthis.

We know Iran isn’t going to surrender, that’s for sure. I will keep obsessively monitoring the news and posting as need be. Here is a fantastic article in that it presents a very different picture than the silliness on the MSM. It basically makes the claim that Trump gambled big time when he pulled out of the nuclear agreement with Iran, and now with this attack he has lost. And his only option is to find a face saving way out of the mess he made. I highly recommend it.

Yeah, Trump will admit he made a mistake, and try to fix it. Snort. I guess we’re gonna find out how well sharpies work against drone attacks. Have a great week everyone.

***

Appendix I: Pompeo’s demands, they are both outrageous and insulting to Iran’s sovereignty, and in some cases even divorced from reality.

  1. Iran must “declare to the IAEA a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program.” They already have. And they had every reason to try and build nuclear weapons when Iraq was attacking them fully backed by the west!
  2. Iran must “stop uranium enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing,” including “closing its heavy water reactor.”  Iran, like numerous other countries, has a civilian nuclear power program. This is an essential component of such programs, and fully legal and reasonable under the NPT. In other words, this is a deliberately insulting and ridiculous demand. It gets worse, trust me.
  3. Iran must “also provide the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the country.” Basically asking Iran to allow US spies to go anywhere they want, anytime they want. No sovereign nation would agree to this.
  4. Iran “must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further development of nuclear-capable missiles.” Again, this is like telling a nation they can’t build tanks or artillery. No sovereign nation would agree to this, especially since Israel, the US, and Saudi Arabia are armed to the teeth with missiles.
  5. Iran is  to “release all U.S. citizens … detained on spurious charges or missing in Iran.” Just imagine if another country demanded that all of its citizens in US jails be released. How would that fly among Trump supporters?
  6. Iran “must end support to Middle East terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hizballah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad” All of these groups have widespread popular support, all of them have legitimate causes, and two of them participate in the electoral process. The US routinely supports groups like these all over the planet. Again, a hypocritical and insulting demand.
  7. Iran “must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias.” Yes, Iran and Shia Iraq are on good terms. It’s the US who has never respected Iraq’s sovereignty, not Iran.
  8. Iran must “end its military support for the Houthi militia and work towards a peaceful political settlement in Yemen.” Iran has proposed a diplomatic solution to Yemen from the beginning, and whatever support they give the Houthis is dwarfed by the arms pipeline flowing into Saudi Arabia. The US’s refusal to recognize the Houthis is the stumbling block, not Iran.
  9. “Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command from Syria.” Iran’s forces are in Syria legally, at the request of the Syrian government. Unlike US forces in Syria.
  10. “Iran must end support for the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan and the region, and cease harboring Al Qaeda.” Um, no, those are Tehran’s enemies, Iran can’t stop doing what it isn’t doing in the first place.
  11. “Iran must end the IRGC Quds Forces’ support for terrorists and militant partners.” Iran supplies its friends in the region, exactly as the US does.
  12. “Iran cease its threatening behavior against its neighbors.” It’s the US and its allies that have invaded and are waging ongoing war on multiple countries in the region, turning whole countries into failed states. Not Iran.

I got these from this site, much of the above is just a shortened version of theirs, sans much editorial comment. If I made any errors in fact, happy to be shown otherwise.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The attack on Pearl Harbor. Credit: Imperial Japanese Navy. This photograph is in the public domain in Japan because its copyright has expired according to Article 23 of the 1899 Copyright Act of Japan (English translation) and Article 2 of Supplemental Provisions of Copyright Act of 1970. This is when the photograph meets one of the following conditions:

It was published before January 1, 1957.

It was photographed before January 1, 1947.

It is also in the public domain in the United States because its copyright in Japan expired by 1970 and was not restored by the Uruguay Round Agreements Act.)

Written by unitedcats

September 23, 2019 at 3:54 am

WHAT ROUGH BEAST II

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DN-SC-87-06412

Well, knock on wood, no US attack on Iran … yet. The quiet before the storm? Nothing has happened yet, but the more I learn about the attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil facility, the more worried I am. This attack was important in at least four scary ways. It’s a new and possibly game-changing addition to the world’s arsenal. It’s exactly the sort of incident the US has used to justify wars before. It’s an attack on major oil production facilities, which are usually tacitly off limits to the major players. Lastly, this really highlights how vulnerable the world’s infrastructure to, well, smart drones. In that order:

This attack was like something out of a James Bond movie. Drones that flew in and hit their targets with precision. I tend to mostly agree with the just linked article, this has been coming for awhile. The technology is off the shelf, the next gen Scud missile if one wills. Insurgents just got a lot more dangerous. One can bet that military and intelligence people are quietly meeting around the globe to discuss this attack.

The US has a long history of using incidents far more trivial than this attack to justify wars. Going back almost to the beginning of our republic. And there are certainly elements in the power structure in Washington calling for an attack on Iran. Trump’s base has certainly bought the idea that Iran is behind all the problems in the region. Trump likely believes it himself. An attack on Iran could have unexpected consequences. More on that later.

Attacks on major infrastructure are rare. The big players generally avoid it because they are all equally vulnerable. So this either means minor players can now attack economic infrastructure in precision ways, or a major player just really upped the ante. Neither possibility is a good thing. Maybe it’s an attempt by the Houthis’ to force peace talks, like what the IRA did to drive the U.K. to the negotiating table. Economic terrorism. Still, not a happy development.

Lastly, this really highlights just how vulnerable the world’s infrastructure really is. You can deliver small explosive loads accurately over hundreds of miles, this makes World War Two bombing raids look like catapults and arrows in comparison.   Hundreds of tons of explosives dropped willy nilly at great risk and expense, hoping the damage done exceeds the cost. Or a few hundred pounds of high explosive delivered to pinpoint targets to maximize damage at little risk or expense. A new day in warfare has dawned.

What does it all mean? Who knows. Oil prices have spiked some, Iran and the US are trading accusations and denials. One of the big takeaways is … whoever did this could do it again. Which is likely a big factor in why no knee jerk response. Iran or the Houthis or the Taliban or Hezbollah could have thousands of drones ready to launch. Even if they don’t, orders are being issued as I type to acquire them. And Iran has plenty of other military options as well. Unlike the defenseless countries the US has been waging war on since 9/11, Iran has teeth. And powerful friends.

Every day that goes by without further escalation is a good thing. The conspiracy mongers are going nuts, but such is life. I don’t think it’s a false flag attack, false flag attacks are generally trivial in their costs. And as I keep saying, the actual details of who launched it really are academic. The US has already made it abundantly clear that it regards Iran as responsible, and will act accordingly. Maybe that means war. Maybe Trump will X-out Iran on a map with his sharpie. Frack if I know, the world post Supercollider weasel is a strange place indeed.

I’m going to call it a night and hope this post doesn’t require major revision come morning. Hopefully nothing will happen by Friday, and I can get back to aliens and comets. BB all.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The USS Stark struck by two Exocetxocet missiles in 1987 during the Iran-Iraq War. Credit: Unknown. This image is a work of a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, it is in the public domain in the United States.)

Written by unitedcats

September 18, 2019 at 4:42 am

Posted in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Trump, War

WHAT ROUGH BEAST

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The_Sandman_a_B-24_Liberator,_piloted_by_Robert_Sternfels

I was working on my interstellar visitor post, then this happened. Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities have been hit by drones, reducing their production capacity by about 50%. Saudi Arabia is the world’s number two producer of oil. So, to put it succinctly, this is a big deal. All hell could break loose Monday when the world’s stock markets open. It’s also possible that this is the first salvo in a much wider war in the region. Or as some are already saying, the End Times have begun. Maybe, hope not.

OK, so why is this attack so important? There’s a lot to unpack here. First, regional background, unstable as hell: Houthi rebels started a civil war in Yemen in 2015, ousting the authoritarian president. Saudi Arabia backed by the west has been waging war on Yemen since, trying to defeat the Houthis and reinstall the ousted dictator. The Saudis fear the Houthis will ally with Iran, though it’s unclear that their war has achieved anything, or even can achieve anything. And Yemen is a terrible failed state at this point with numerous factions in the fight for different goals.

As well, in 2015 Iran signed a humiliating deal with the USA and other major powers. They caved to intrusive western nuclear inspections that made a mockery of the NPT and Iranian sovereignty. Iran problem solved, right? No, along came Trump who backed out of the deal and started a campaign of economic warfare against Iran. Regime change being the goal apparently. Israel is urging the US to attack Iran, and there’s certainly people in Washington who think it’s a great idea.

There have also been other mysterious attacks on some oil tankers in the Gulf recently. And now this, a drone strike does devastating damage to Saudi Arabia’s oil production capacity. Not cruise missiles, drones. Small, cheap, could have been launched by any number of nations. Houthi rebels are claiming it was them, Trump is claiming Iran launched the drones. When the markets open Monday oil prices will likely rise, and all sorts of economic hell might break loose. And of course this could spread to other acts of war in the region.

First takeaway, believe no one. Governments always lie.  Could have been Houthi rebels. They could have gotten the drones from Iran, or any number of third parties. Could have been Iran. Doesn’t really matter, since both the US and Israel are going to blame Iran and react accordingly. And anyone else who is happy to see the Saudi’s and/or the US petrodollar hurt may try and figure out how to take advantage of this. That would be China, Russia, and Venezuela for starters. I don’t think North Korea will be shedding any tears over this either. The rest of the world is urging calm, since a catastrophic war that takes out a large part of the world’s oil production will hurt all around.

So, a lot of angry arguing cooks in the kitchen and a stove top grease fire just broke out, what happens now? Do they work together to put out the fire? Or does someone throw flaming grease on someone else. That’s really the only question that matters now. Even if nothing else happens, gas prices are likely to rise, the world’s economies will take a hit, and even temporary gas shortages are possible. If the US or Israel does attack Iran, anything is possible. Oil facilities are very soft targets, and when it comes right down to it, the world economy is very fragile in many respects.

And sadly I know I recently said I hope Trump gets through the rest of his presidency without having to deal with a major crisis. Obviously I should have knocked on wood when I typed that. Maybe this isn’t a major crisis just yet, but it could get there quickly. And we have a man in the White House who thinks he can retroactively change reality using a sharpie. This does not fill me with confidence. At least Bolton is gone, he’d be foaming at the mouth urging an attack on Iran. Someone could slip and fall. I’m hoping cooler heads prevail everywhere.

In any event I’m posting this today because by Monday the situation may have changed. If there are further unpleasant developments, I will post on Monday or Tuesday. If not (fingers and toes crossed,) on Wednesday I will post about Comet Borisov and aliens. Hope everyone is having a good weekend, stay calm and carry on.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: B-24 Liberator, emerging from smoke over the Astra Română refinery, Rumania, during World War Two.  Only Public Domain picture of a refinery under attack I could locate on short notice. Credit: Jerry J. Joswick This image or file is a work of a U.S. Air Force Airman or employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image or file is in the public domain in the United States.)

Written by unitedcats

September 15, 2019 at 3:02 pm