The attack on Saudi Aramco’s oil plant in September was claimed by Houthis, but the US blamed Iran. Now the UN is saying it wasn’t the Houthis, potentially ratcheting up US-Iran tensions.
I don’t think the UN has an interest in instigating war between the US and Iran. I don’t think they released this information with any agenda. But it does seem the consequence of this will be ratcheted up tension in an already highly tense geopolitical climate.
That’s not to say information should be withheld if it might have a negative geopolitical consequence. After all, the UN monitors were deliberately not figuring out where they came from, but just whether or not they came from Yemen.
It’s just, the only other blame that has been suggested is Saudi Arabia and the US suggested it came from Iran. So now that becomes the prevailing narrative.
“According to the report seen by Reuters on Wednesday, the independent UN experts to the Security Council Yemen sanctions committee said: ‘That despite their claims to the contrary, the Houthi forces did not launch the attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais on 14 September 2019.’
“Riyadh, which is backing Yemen’s internationally recognised government in its fight against the Houthis, has long accused Iran of supplying the rebels with weapons. Tehran says it supports the rebels diplomatically and politically but has repeatedly denied providing them with any military aid.”
The situation clearly can’t be reduced to “Who did it? Houthis or Iran?” They’re inextricably linked by being on the same side of a protracted, proxy civil war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Iran is crucial to a network of Shia militia forces throughout the middle east. So either way, Iran is implicated in the situation. But the reason for reducing it to “who do we blame?” is to ratchet up tension with the group we blame.
Al Jazeera continues:
“The UN investigators said they doubted that the drones and land-attack cruise missiles used in the September 14 attack ‘have a sufficient range to have been launched from Yemeni territory under the control of the Houthis.’
“‘The panel notes that Abqaiq and Khurais were approached respectively from a north/northwestern and north/northeastern direction, rather than from the south, as one would expect in the case of a launch from Yemeni territory,’ the report said, according to Reuters.”
Having said all that, this is pretty convincing evidence.
Ultimately, the take-away I want people to have from this news is: yes, it honestly sounds likely the attack is from Iran. But the implication of reducing it to just that, is that it was an unprovoked attack out of the blue from Iran.
Realistically, the way both the Houthis and Iran likely saw it, is the Houthis wanted to do the attack, and didn’t have the means, so Iran did it on their behalf, so the Houthis could take credit. In the broader scope of geopolitics, this is how most regional sectarian wars in the middle east take place: Iran supports groups that advance their broader interests and Saudi Arabia supports different groups that advance their broader interests.
This is, indeed, how proxy cold wars work.
Whether they came from Yemen or Iran, they came from the same side of the same war, so focusing on blame is besides the real point, and is in service of ratcheting tension.