One of the major unsettled scores in the Middle East involves the Iranian-sponsored attack on the Saudi oil refinery. Until the United States decided to take out terrorist majordomo Qasem Soleimani, that may have been the most significant act of aggression in the region in recent days. It was much more than the bottle-rocket warfare regularly conducted by various terrorist groups.
Though the Saudi government threatened retaliation for this attack on its sovereignty, nothing has yet happened.
While Iran is blustering over the death of Soleimani – as can be expected – their options are very limited. Iran is suffering a crushing economic crisis due to the sanctions put in place by President Trump. While the liberal establishment believes the regime in Tehran is firmly ensconced – just as they believed the old Soviet Union was a permanent reality – there is significant opposition to the mullah-led government at the grassroots in Iran.
It is easy for the folks in Tehran to draw hundreds of thousands of supporters to the streets as a funeral protest, but that will not change the minds and hearts of those opposing the oppressive government and the crashing economy.
The leaders of Iran will have to either recognize that they cannot out escalate the United States, or they will engage in an exchange of escalations that will eventually lead to regime change.
Despite the rhetoric, Iran is in a very vulnerable position. It would not take much to pull the carpet out from under the regime – and Saudi Arabia is in the perfect position to do it. Tehran is running out of money to fuel international terrorism. The killing of Soleimani leaves his network of terrorist organizations floating adrift – without the massive influx of money that the Obama administration provided and Soleimani used to deadly consequences.
The last economic lifeline for Iran is oil. If they lose the ability to sell oil, they have nothing left. The United States can impact on Irani oil sales with additional sanctions, BUT Saudi Arabia can deliver a coup d ’grace by a tit-for-tat attack. They can bomb Iran oil refineries – essentially putting Iran out of business. Without oil income, the people of Iran will have no other option but to bring down the government they already despise.
The disruption of Irani oil would not have a major impact on the United States or Saudi Arabia. America is not only an energy-rich nation, as is Saudi Arabia. The world is currently awash in oil from multiple sources. That is why the killing of Soleimani has had very little impact on the price of crude. Oil-rich nations, like Russia, may align with Iran, but they cannot afford to withhold their oil from the market.
With the economy in shambles and the flow of oil disrupted, the leaders in Tehran will not be able to carry out major retaliation, terrorism or war. They will be bankrupt.
The brother of Prince Mohammad bin Salman is in Washington meeting with Trump. We can only hope that a massive attack on Irani oil production is on the agenda.
So, there ‘tis,