THE US – Saudi Nexus Part 3 (of a 6 part series): 2010-2015

Saudi Arabia in the next 8 years would witness profound changes, both internally and externally. In the period immediately after the start of the Arab Spring, Saudi Arabia embarked on domestic policy changes, in order to forestall a possible Color Revolution in the country. To avoid any protests, in February, 2011 – King Abdullah announces increased welfare spending, as unrest continues across Arab world.

2011 March – Public protests banned, after small demonstrations in mainly Shia areas of the east. King Abdullah warns that threats to the nation’s security and stability will not be tolerated.

 In neighboring Bahrein, which is majority Shia, but ruled by a Sunni leader, unrest broke out by the Shia population. Saudi Arabia sent in troops to help the government, and Saudi troops participate in crackdown on unrest in Bahrain.

2011 September – King Abdullah announces more rights for women, including the right to vote and run in municipal elections and to be appointed to the consultative Shura Council.

A woman is sentenced to 10 lashes after being found guilty of driving, in the first legal punishment for violating the ban on women drivers. King Abdullah overturns the sentence.

2011 October – Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz al Saud is named as the heir to the throne, after Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz al Saud dies.

War in Syria

 If we map the resources of known natural gas reserves in the entire Persian Gulf region, the motives of the Saudi-led Qatar and UAE in financing with billions of dollars the opposition to Assad, including ISIS, becomes clearer. Natural gas has become the favored “clean energy” source for the 21st Century and the EU is the world’s largest growth market for gas, a major reason Washington wants to break the Gazprom-EU supply dependency to weaken Russia and keep control over the EU via loyal proxies like Qatar.

The world’s largest known natural gas reservoir sits in the middle of the Persian Gulf straddling part in the territorial waters of Qatar and part in Iran. The Iranian part is called North Pars.

The Qatar side of the Persian Gulf, called North Field, contains the world’s third largest known natural gas reserves behind Russia and Iran.

In July 2011, the governments of Syria, Iran and Iraq signed an historic gas pipeline energy agreement which went largely unnoticed in the midst of the NATO-Saudi-Qatari war to remove Assad. The pipeline, envisioned to cost $10 billion and take three years to complete, would run from the Iranian Port Assalouyeh near the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf, to Damascus in Syria via Iraq territory. The agreement would make Syria the center of assembly and production in conjunction with the reserves of Lebanon. This is a strategic space that geographically opens for the first time, extending from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. , “The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline – if it’s ever built – would solidify a predominantly Shi’ite axis through an economic, steel umbilical cord” i.e. a “LAND-BRIDGE” running from Iran to the Mediterranean, via Iraq and Syria.

Shortly after signing with Iran and Iraq, on August 16, 2011, Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Ministry of Oil announced the discovery of a gas well in the Area of Qarah in the Central Region of Syria near Homs. This was a super-giant gas field. Gazprom, with Assad in power, would be a major investor or operator of the new gas fields in Syria.  Iran ultimately plans to extend the pipeline from Damascus to Lebanon’s Mediterranean port where it would be delivered to the huge EU market. Syria would buy Iranian gas along with a current Iraqi agreement to buy Iranian gas from Iran’s part of South Pars field.

Qatar, today the world’s largest exporter of LNG, largely to Asia, wants the same EU market that Iran and Syria eye. For that, they would build pipelines to the Mediterranean. Here is where getting rid of the pro-Iran Assad is essential. In 2009 Qatar approached Bashar al-Assad to propose construction of a gas pipeline from Qatar’s north Field through Syria on to Turkey and to the EU. Assad refused, citing Syria’s long friendly relations with Russia and Gazprom. That refusal combined with the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline agreement in 2011 ignited the full-scale Saudi and Qatari assault on Assad’s power, financing al Qaeda terrorists, recruits of fanatics willing to kill Alawite and Shi’ite “infidels” for $100 a month and a Kalishnikov. The Washington  war hawks in and around the Obama White House, along with their allies in the right-wing Netanyahu government, were cheering from the bleachers as Syria went up in flames after spring 2011.

Today the US-backed wars in Ukraine and in Syria are but two fronts in the same strategic war to cripple Russia and China and to rupture any Eurasian counter-pole to a US-controlled New World Order. In each, control of energy pipelines, this time primarily of natural gas pipelines—from Russia to the EU via Ukraine and from Iran and Syria to the EU via Syria—is the strategic goal. The true aim of the US and Israel backed ISIS is to give the pretext for bombing Assad’s vital grain silos and oil refineries to cripple the economy in preparation for a “Ghaddafi-”style elimination of Russia and China and Iran-ally Bashar al-Assad.

In a narrow sense, as Washington see it, who controls Syria could control the Middle East. And from Syria, gateway to Asia, he will hold the key to Russia, as well as that of China via the Silk Road.

Domestic Affairs

2011 December – US confirms major sale of fighter jets to Saudi Arabia.

2012 April – Fifty men suspected of links to al-Qaeda go on trial. Charges include the 2003 bombing of an expatriates’ compound.

2012 June – Crown Prince Nayef dies, succeeded by more liberal defence minister, the 76-year-old Prince Salman.

Saudi Arabia agrees to allow its women athletes to compete in the Olympics for the first time, against the background of speculation that the entire Saudi team might be disqualified on grounds of gender discrimination.

EGYPT & Abdel Sissi

Early May 2013, US Secretary of State John Kerry has an off-the-record meeting with King Abdullah in Jeddah. In the discussions, Kerry informed Salman that the United States cannot guarantee the safety and security of Saudi Arabia’s eastern oil fields and infrastructure. In reply, Abdullah informed Kerry that “—we never asked you or your predecessors to guarantee the safety of our oil fields. Rather, it is Allah –our Creator- It was your President Franklin Roosevelt who offered to protect us from the British and to side with you— on that basis, we entered into a strategic arrangement between our two countries- – – . Furthermore, America has benefited more than our country has, and now that you are siding with Iran, how then, can we trust you going forward?”.

King Abdullah continues “- – – You can’t trust the Iranians. In 1979 you put Khomeini into power and he double-crossed you. What makes you think they will honor any agreement with you now? – – – . Israel and we are your main allies in the region. We will both be upset if this deal goes through with Iran.”

In trying to make Kerry see reason, Abdullah told him that, “- – – in 100 years from now, you (meaning America) and Israel will not be around. Iran will still be here, and will pose an even greater threat to us Arabs”.

 After this meeting, Saudi Arabia decided that it was vital for the overall security and safety of the Arab nation to protect itself from the storm that was about to engulf the region. From Saudi Arabia’s view, Egypt was on the verge of imploding under Morsi’s rule. So, both Saudi and Abu Dhabi enacted a coup against Morsi, using the military and security to assist in this. Taking a lesson from the US-Color Revolutions, the Saudis brought Cairo to a standstill.

Mass demonstrations occurred on 30 June 2013 as tens of millions of Egyptians took to the streets to denounce Mohamed Morsi. Clashes took place around Egypt. Soon afterwards, the Egyptian army issued a 48-hour ultimatum which aired on television that gave the country’s political parties until 3 July to meet the demands of the anti-Morsi demonstrators. The Egyptian military also threatened to intervene if the dispute was not resolved by then.

Millions of Egyptians are demanding the overthrow of Morsi, 2 July 2013

On 3 July 2013, the Egyptian Armed Forces declared that as the political parties had failed to meet the deadline and Morsi had failed to build a national consensus for his leadership, the army had to overthrow Morsi in a coup d’état. The army then installed Adly Mansour as the interim head of state in his place until a new president could be elected, and ordered the arrest of many members of the Muslim Brotherhood on charges of “inciting violence and disturbing general security and peace.

On 24 July 2013, during a speech at a military parade, head of the Egyptian Army, Sisi called for mass demonstrations to grant the Egyptian military and police a “mandate” to crack down on terrorism. Within a year Sissi was elected as Egypt’s new leader.

 It was of vital importance to stabilize Egypt. In January 2011 Muslim Brotherhood takes over Egypt, the country has been wracked with both internal riots and external problems on all sides of its borders. In the south, Sudan broke up into 2 parts, ensuring a period of further destabilization. In the west, along its borders with Libya, it was chaos, as warring groups battled it out. In the east, in the Sinai, a low-intensity terrorist activity was in full swing. In short, Egypt was being systematically destabilized. By the ousting of Morsi, and with Sissi taking over in a military coup, Saudi Arabia nipped the destruction of Egypt in the bud. Its economy was in a shambles. Egypt has struggled to pay for imports since the 2011 uprising that pushed Hosni Mubarak out of the presidency drove away tourists and foreign investors, two of its main sources of foreign currency.

Since then it has run through more than $20 billion in reserves, borrowed billions from abroad. Within a week of the coup, Saudi Arabia approved $5 billion in aid to Egypt on Tuesday and the United Arab Emirates has offered $3 billion in desperately needed support for the economy after the army ousted the Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi.

The Alliance with Israel

When news first broke out about a covert alliance between Saudi Arabia and Israel, it was met by disbelief amongst the Muslim world. How could it be, they asked? Saudi Arabia is the bastion of Islam, and Israel is the foremost enemy of Islam and the Arabs, To get an answer to this, a brief background is necessary. The full story is told in a 2-part series, titled “The Break-up” (see Volume 2, Issue nos 15 & 16).

Though measuring no more than roughly 460 square miles, the Golan is of great strategic importance for several reasons. The most commonly cited by Israeli media is that it offers a bulwark against northern “hostile” nations due to its rugged geography, helping Israel to “defend” against incoming attacks from either Syria or Lebanon.

   Israel has been creeping further into southern Syria under the guise of establishing a “safe-zone” or buffer region that extends from the Golan into the southern Syrian provinces of Quneitra and Daraa. This safe zone is “intended to keep the Syrian army and its Iranian and Lebanese allies as far away from Israel’s border as possible, as well as solidify Israel’s control over the occupied Golan Heights.”

Alongside the buffer zone’s expansion, Israel has “offered” to occupy Syrian villages to “protect” them from the very Syrian rebels that Israel has been funding, arming, and offering medical treatment to throughout the conflict.

However, much more important to Israel’s “national security” than the oft-stated “barrier” advantage is the fact that the Golan Heights houses significant fresh-water resources. Under occupation, the Golan is one of three sources of fresh water to the Israeli state — and is the largest in size and most plentiful, as it comprises the mountain streams that feed the Sea of Galilee, and the headwaters of the Jordan river. Currently, over a third of all the fresh water made available to Israelis originates in the Golan Heights.

Though fresh water is an especially important resource in the Middle East, it is now more important to Israel than ever before. Israel is in its fourth year of a drought so massive that a NASA study called it the worst drought in the region in nearly 900 years. As a result, the water in the Golan Heights is essential to Israel and its attempts to expand.

This resource was a major motivating factor in Israel’s 1967 takeover and subsequent 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights. During that period, Israel expelled nearly all of the area’s original inhabitants and demolished their villages.  By 2010, more than 100,000 Syrians lost their homes and property as a result of the occupation. Israel has no intention of letting the Golan’s original inhabitants return, however. The area is currently home to some 20,000 settlers and a plan is currently underway to settle 100,000 more in the next several years in order to strengthen Israel’s claim to the area.

Though the abundant fresh water in the Golan Heights is of crucial importance to Israel, the Golan’s value grew sharply following the discovery of a major oil reserve in the area, estimated to contain “billions of barrels” of crude oil that could turn Israel – which currently imports the vast majority of its fuel – into a net oil exporter. Yet, because the Golan Heights are internationally recognized as being under occupation and not an official part of Israel, the commercial extraction and export of this vast oil reserve cannot go forward — until this status changes. As a result, only exploratory wells have been drilled, mostly by a divisionof Genie Energy Co., a U.S.-based oil company connected to well-known figures such as Rupert Murdoch, Jacob Rothschild, and Dick Cheney

The Russian Times (RT) and many other sources report that , in 2010, Israel has indeed discovered a major deposit of oil on the Golan Heights.

As a nation, Israel consumes 270,000 barrels of oil per day, with up to three quarters of it imported from the semi-autonomous Kurdish area of Iraq. The newly discovered deposit has the potential to produce billions of barrels.

The Russian Times goes on to note the magnitude of the find: “We are talking about a [stratum] which is 350 meters thick, and what is important is the thickness and the porosity. On average in the world, strata are 20-30 meters thick, so this is ten times as large as that, so we are talking about significant quantities. The important thing is to know the oil is in the rock and that’s what we now know,” Israel business website Globes quotes Yuval Bartov, chief geologist of Afek Oil and Gas as saying. Afek is a subsidiary of the America’s Genie Energy. The oil deposits found here made it a super-giant oil field.

The reported discovery coincides with the civil war raging in Syria.  Genie Oil is the company that made this discovery. Genie Oil is a company jointly owned and controlled by the 2 families. In mid-2011, the Rothschilds informed the Rockefellers that the Golan oil will be exclusively for Israel, and that New York has no say over it. The dispute over this became bitter and bloody, culminating in the US Navy destroying 2 of Israel’s Dolphin submarines, in May 2014, and the Mossad retaliating by killing Richard Rockefeller a month later, in June 2014. With the death of his son, David Rockefeller now broke off all ties to the Rothschilds, and a new bloody war began between the 2 families, this time on a global scale, especially in the financial world.

 Now, America, Europe, and most nations fear this. Israel imports 75% of its oil. With this discovery, Israel has the opportunity to be free of oil imports, The fear of the world facing an Israel which has its own oil, means that Israel now has the means to expand its borders, without fear of being cut-off from its oil suppliers. A military machine that has its own oil- like Israel-would constitute a game-changer, and a serious threat to the stability of the Middle East, and destabilize world peace.

 The question now remained – how to stop Israel from developing this field? And America decided to do a deal with Iran, with Oman acting as the conduit for super-secret talks. The essence of these talks was as follows: – The US would remove sanctions on Iran, release some of the frozen funds, and allow Iran to continue with its nuclear program. Also, Iran would be given a free and in the region, especially against the Arabs. But, for all of this to happen, Iran must send troops and Hezbollah fighters to the Golan Heights, in order to stop Israel drilling for oil there.

 The deal was one that Iran was more than happy to do, as Iran’s richest man was Hashim Rafsenjani, a former President of Iran, and its first billionaire. Rafsenjani was a businessman, and an Iran free from sanctions meant that Iran’s economy would boom, its young population would be content, and that Iran’s business-class would make tons of money.

 The Mossad came to know about these covert meetings and informed Saudi intelligence services. This was in late 2011. The reaction from both Tel Aviv and Riyadh was deep anger towards Washington, and both Israel and Saudi Arabia decided to team-up, against Iran. Both saw Iran as a major regional threat- each for their own reasons. Add to the fact that Washington had abandoned them. One is reminded of Sun Tzu’s famous cry: “ My enemy’s enemy is my friend”.

 This, then, is the reason why they had teamed up. To a certain extent, both Israel and Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE were working with the West to topple Basher Assad in the Syrian War.

A topographical representation of the Golan Heights, including its precious water resources centering around the Sea of Galilee

 The Sunni-Shia Clash – Iran vs Saudi Arabia

For the Saudis the war is between two competing age-old vectors of Islam. Saudi Arabia, home to the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina, claims de facto supremacy in the Islamic world of Sunni Islam.  Iran on the other hand historically is the heart of the smaller branch of Islam, the Shi’ite. Iraq’s population is some 61% majority Shi’ite. Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad is a member of a satellite of the Shi’ite branch known as Alawite. Some 23% of Turkey is also Alawite Muslim. To complicate the picture more, across a bridge from Saudi Arabia sits the tiny island country, Bahrain where as many as 75% of the population is Shi’ite but the ruling Al-Khalifa family is Sunni and firmly tied to Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the richest Saudi oil region is dominated by Shi’ite Muslims who work the oil installations of Ras Tanura.

These historic fault lines inside Islam which lay dormant were brought into a state of open warfare with the launching of the US State Department and CIA’s Islamic Holy War, otherwise known as the Arab Spring. Washington advocated US covert backing of a pet CIA project known as the Muslim Brotherhood.  The CIA had cultivated ties to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood death cult since the early 1950’s.

Religious wars have historically been the most savage of all wars and this one is no exception, especially when trillions of dollars in oil and gas revenues are at stake.

Oil Gas Pipeline War & the Collapsing Oil Price

1. The Kerry-Abdullah Secret Deal

The details are emerging of a new secret Saudi-US deal on Syria  ; It involves oil and gas control of the entire region and the weakening of Russia and Iran by Saudi Arabian flooding the world market with cheap oil. Details were concluded in the September meeting by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Saudi King. Abdullah.  The unintended consequence will be to push Russia even faster to turn east to China and Eurasia.

One of the weirdest anomalies of the recent NATO bombing campaign, against the ISIS  is the fact that with major war raging in the world’s richest oil region, the price of crude oil has been dropping, dramatically so. Since June 2014, when ISIS suddenly captured the oil-rich region of Iraq around Mosul and Kirkuk, the price of crude oil dropped from $112 to  $40 by year’s end. However, world daily demand for oil has not dropped.

What has happened is that the long-time US ally inside OPEC, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has been flooding the market with deep discounted oil, triggering a price war within OPEC, with Iran following suit and panic selling short in oil futures markets. The Saudis are targeting sales to Asia for the discounts and in particular, its major Asian customer, China where it is reportedly offering its crude for a mere $50 to $60 a barrel rather than the earlier price of around $100.  That Saudi financial discounting operation in turn is by all appearance being coordinated with a US Treasury financial warfare operation, via its Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in cooperation with a handful of inside players on Wall Street who control oil derivatives trading. The result is a market panic that was gaining momentum daily. China is quite happy to buy the cheap oil, but her close allies, Russia and Iran, are being hit severely.

2. The Deal

The US-Saudi oil price manipulation is aimed at destabilizing several strong opponents of US globalist policies. Targets include Iran and Syria, both allies of Russia in opposing a US sole Superpower. The principal target, however, is Putin’s Russia, the single greatest threat today to that Superpower hegemony. The strategy is similar to what the US did with Saudi Arabia in 1986 when they flooded the world with Saudi oil, collapsing the price to below $10 a barrel and destroying the economy of then-Soviet ally, Saddam Hussein in Iraq and, ultimately, of the Soviet economy, paving the way for the fall of the Soviet Union.  The 1988 oil price crash also hit Iran and was the main factor in causing Iran to sue for peace in its 8 year long war with Iraq.

 The aim was a collapse of Russian oil revenues, combined with select pin-prick sanctions designed by the US Treasury would dramatically weaken Putin’s enormous domestic support and create conditions for his ultimate overthrow. It was doomed to fail for many reasons, not the least, because Putin’s Russia has taken major strategic steps together with China and other nations to lessen its dependence on the West. In fact the oil weapon is accelerating recent Russian moves to focus its economic power on national interests and lessen dependence on the Dollar system. If the dollar ceases being the currency of world trade, especially oil trade, the US Treasury faces financial catastrophe.

On September 11, 2014, US Secretary of State Kerry met Saudi King Abdullah at his palace on the Red Sea. The King invited former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Bandar to attend. There a deal was hammered out which saw Saudi support for the Syrian airstrikes against ISIS on condition Washington backed the Saudis in toppling Assad, a firm ally of Russia and de facto of Iran and an obstacle to Saudi and UAE plans to control the emerging EU natural gas market and destroy Russia’s lucrative EU trade.

3. New King

2015 January – King Salman ascends throne after King Abdullah dies.

In November 2012, Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Salman’s brother, died. Salman was named Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister. Salman basically ran Saudi Arabia’s domestic affairs while his half-brother, King Abdullah, was out of the country, which was often.

In January 2015, King Abdullah died at the age of 90 and Salman succeeded to the Saudi throne. The former chief of the Saudi Intelligence Agency, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, was named Crown Prince by Salman. Muqrin’s reign did not last long. In April 2015, Salman replaced Muqrin with his nephew, the Interior Minister, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef al-Saud.

The Oil Wars in Yemen

In March 2015 a new civil war raged in Yemen between the group known popularly as Houthis after Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, of the Zaidi sect of Islam. The Zaidi had ruled Yemen for more than 1,000 years until 1962.

The Houthi movement had forced the ouster of Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh in late 2011 on charges of vast corruption.He was succeeded by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, Saleh’s Vice President. At that time both Saleh and Hadi were proxy presidents of Saudi influence.

Things began to change when Hadi refused to step down after his mandate expired. His decision to cut subsidies on fuel prices as well as refusing agreed reforms led to his arrest by the Houthi movement forces in early 2015. He managed later to flee to Saudi Arabia on March 25, 2015 and that same day Saudi Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman ordered the start of the ongoing bombing war against Yemen and the Houthis.

In 2004 when the Cheney-Bush “War on Terror” went to Yemen to support then-president Saleh, Saudi domination of Yemen was unquestioned. The US and British forces backed Saleh against an uprising by the Houthi minority that began after Saleh tried to arrest Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, the Zaidi religious leader.

By 2015 that US proxy war changed and the Pentagon and Obama Administration quietly backed a full-scale catastrophic Saudi military assault on Yemen.

What is the US or Saudi interest in Yemen? Control of the oil is the short answer, but perhaps not in the usual sense.

In November 2005 the Republic of Yemen expropriated its oil basins — the Marib Al-Jawf Block — from US Hunt Oil Company and ExxonMobil. That was an irritant but not a decisive game-changer. It was in 2014 when the Houthi rebellion against the President, Saudi-backed Hadi, was victorious that the war took a new form. By March 2015 the Houthi-led Supreme Revolutionary Committee declared a general mobilization to overthrow Hadi, after taking over Sana’a and the Yemeni government and proceeding to Aden.

Undiscovered Potential

There are two strategic aspects of who is in control of Yemen, especially the areas now under Houthi control.  One is the mentioned geostrategic control of oil flows passing Bab el Mandab in the Horn of Africa. The second is the control of the largely untapped oil wealth of Yemen itself.

 In the mid-1980s, a survey of Yemen noted a potential oil reserves-as yet untapped- of 10 billion barrels. Now, 10 billion barrels of crude oil might not seem huge compared with the Saudi claim to hold proven reserves of 266 billion barrels. Here, however, a CIA report from 1988 becomes interesting. The report, South Yemen’s Oil Resources: The Chimera of Wealth, heavily redacted and declassified, has a cryptic note on potential oil reserves in the large disputed border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The CIA points to oil and gas reserves along what during the Cold War was the disputed border Neutral Zone between North Yemen and South Yemen.

The Hunt Oil Company of Texas has been sitting in the Alif Field since 1982 and discovered oil there in 1984. The Alif Field lies in the Houthi-controlled north of Yemen near the undefined border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.  The undefined desert lands between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, according to non-published US aerial and geophysical surveys, held oil reserve potential that likely exceeded that of Saudi Arabia.

Whether that statement was accurate is not possible to independently confirm. What is clear is that the space surrounded by the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, including Yemen and Somalia is one of the most tectonically active areas on our planet, a prerequisite for hydrocarbon discovery. Presence of huge oil and gas reserves in Yemen would explain much about why the Pentagon has actively backed the Saudi brutal effort to retake control of Yemen from the Houthi.

It has little to do with any Shi’ite versus Wahhabite Sunni conflict. Rather it has to do with strategic control of world energy. So long as Saana was in control of a Saudi proxy, whether Saleh or then Hadi, it was a secondary priority for Washington. The oil was “safe,” even if the Yemen government had expropriated the US company oil properties. Once a determined independent Houthi force was in control of Yemen or a major part, the threat became serious enough to give the eager new Saudi Defense Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman the green light to begin the war. That Houthi-controlled Yemen would be a potential client for Russian or Chinese oil companies to open up serious exploration of the potentials. That combined with the fact that the Houthi also had friendly relations with Iran clearly set off red lights in Washington, even though Washington had given Iran a “Green Light” to take control of the Persian Gulf and its vital chokepoints of the Hormuz Straits and the Bab El Mandab.

 To avoid its oil supply from being blocked off from world markets, both Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi went into Yemen. Another advantage of going into Yemen would be for these two Arab oil exporters to build more pipelines going south through Yemen, in order to bypass the Hormuz chokepoint. (see map) A third factor was potentially denying Russia, China, or Iran from getting control of Yemen’s oil potential. So, these were the three factors that drove both Saudi and Abu Dhabi into Yemen.

Salman not surprisingly claimed it was a war of Iran-led “imperialists” against the forces of Saudi-led “freedom-loving” Sunnis. China now has its first overseas military base across from Yemen in Djibouti; next door to the US whose Camp Lemonnier is the largest American permanent military base in Africa. Former colonial occupier France is also there. There is far more at stake in Yemen than we are being told.

2015 May – Two suicide bomb attacks on Shia mosques in Eastern Province kill at least 25 people, claimed by Saudi branch of Islamic Group Sunni extremist group.

2015 September – Hundreds die in stampede near Mecca during annual Hajj pilgrimage, days after 109 people perished when a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque, raising further concerns about safety standards during these mass events.

Saudi’s Strategic Eastern Province

The Eastern Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is perhaps the most valuable piece of real estate on the planet, double the area of the Federal Republic of Germany but with a mere 4 million people. Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company is based in Dhahran in the Eastern Province.

The main Saudi oil and gas fields are mostly in the Eastern Province, onshore and offshore, including the world’s largest oil field, Ghawar. Petroleum from the Saudi fields, including Ghawar, is shipped to dozens of countries from the oil port terminal of the the Ras Tanura complex, the world’s biggest crude oil terminal. Some 80% of the near 10 million barrels of oil a day pumped out by Saudi goes to Ras Tanura in the Persian Gulf where it is loaded on to supertankers bound for the west.

The Eastern Province is also home to Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq Plants facility, their biggest oil processing and crude stabilization facility with a capacity of 7 million barrels per day. It’s the primary oil processing site for Arabian extra light and Arabian light crude oils, and handles crude oil pumped from Ghawar field.

And it also happens that the majority of oil field and refinery blue collar workers in of the Eastern Province are…Shi’ite. They are said also to be sympathetic to the just-executed Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. In the late 1980’s the Saudi Hezbollah Al-Hejaz, led several attacks on oil infrastructure and also murdered Saudi diplomats. They were trained in Iran.

And now there is a new destabilizing element to add to the political tensions building between Saudi Arabia and Erdogan’s Turkey on the one side, flanked by  Arab Gulf Cooperation Council states, and on the other Assad’s Syria, Iraq with a 60% Shi’ite population and neighboring Iran, aided presently militarily by Russia.

This then is the geopolitical timeline of key events regarding Saudi Arabia. In the follow-up article, we will continue where we left off.

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