Please, Won’t Somebody Think of the… Oil!

19//09/2019

Yep, Iran overstepped – they’ve crossed the line now. They might be giving very mild and negligible support to a rebel group in Yemen, the Houthis. Those Houthis claimed to be behind a strike on a Saudi oil refinery that resulted in zero bloodshed and some soaring profit margins for oil companies. Iran’s gotta fuckin’ go.

I hope the sarcasm is clear there. In no sane world is borderline declaring war on a country for something they probably had nothing to do with, and which, even if they were directly involved, caused nothing more than some material damage. No one was killed, the refinery can – if the fossil fuel companies are to be so bold in the face of another climate strike – be rebuilt. Have we really sunk so low as to consider Saudi Arabia a victim?

Other than a few probing questions about the lack of proof – investigations are still being carried out, and so far I’ve only seen “American investigators” being quoted – the media seems intent to point the finger at Iran. They have, for the most part, thankfully, not completely forgotten Saudi Arabia’s abuses though (headline skimmers may not get the full picture, however).

Trump insists he doesn’t want a war, but the problem is that the US has been involved in one for four years now. Just not with Iran.

Let’s say that war as a response to the refinery attack is justifiable. Tomorrow we all wake up and the headlines scream war is declared, to liberate Iran and champion peace in the region (because Orwell was right). Too late, though, because if that is the line in the sand for attacks on apparent ally’s soil, then the US would have been invaded by Iran in 2015.

There’s no doubt that Iran, even if it doesn’t directly fund or arm the Houthis to some extent, does back them. That being the case, the moment Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen with the Obama administration’s backing, Iran would have had every right to create a coalition of (the other) Arab states to strike the US, Saudi Arabia, and probably Israel too, for their involvement in Syria.

Could you imagine the screeches? The outrage? The shock? Iran declaring war, sending troops out to strike at the faultless West and their staunch allies. There wouldn’t be enough nukes to contain the situation, I’m sure.

So why do we so fervently track every update on a harmless refinery attack and watch as we stumble closer to war? I’ve said this for years, where is the same anger when it comes to the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen? The death of Jamal Khashoggi, as tragic as it was, at least brought attention to the atrocities taking place with the US’ silent blessing (and with US mercenaries), but interest in our own actions needs to be constantly reignited lest we fade it out of our 24hr memory.

As it is, new audio, released by Turkey, from when Khashoggi was murdered further implicates the Crown Prince, and the UAE – which has hit a bump in Saudi relations – has revealed that the Saudi government wants to try and keep the Khashoggi situation out of the media. They don’t want relations between themselves and the US being torn apart in the upcoming 2020 elections, and talking too much about Yemen and Khashoggi might just turn the American public the wrong way.

Attention, therefore, must be directed elsewhere. Where better than everyone’s favourite Middle Eastern scapegoat, Iran? As Israel, apparently the regions only democracy, fails to do that democracy thing right again, and as Netanyahu approaches corruption charges, a chance to strike out at Iran over it’s supposed ties to both Hezbollah and Hamas (for all the restrictions on them, Iran sure does get around) would distract from consistent failures.

Similarly, in the US, as much as the media and much of the population hates Trump, it is still the country that blindly followed Bush and God into Afghanistan – rallying support for a war against Iran if there is ‘cause’ to do so wouldn’t be all that difficult.

Iran isn’t exactly helping by closing off negotiations with the US, but given the US’ track record (think negotiations with the Palestinians) you can’t really blame them. They are trying to maintain relations with other countries included in the Iran deal set up by Obama and have very clearly stated their expectations should talks be resumed. I’d call it legendary restraint, given that, using the US’ justifications, they could’ve been the invaders themselves four years ago.

The oil refinery doesn’t matter. The war in Yemen, however, does. And so does the maddening descent into a broader, more dangerous war we seem to be endlessly staring at.

 

Liked this? Read The Middle East On Edge

Previous piece: The Climate Strike

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