If Iran the Circus

An amazing confluence of events, all of which seems to benefit… whom? But for the first item, I’d have had another guess altogether. But the first event, the thwarted suicide attack on a major Saudi oil refinery (ably discussed here by Professor Cole) at Abqaiq, a Shiite area in Saudi Arabia, throws off virtually all prior analyses. I understand that Al Qaeda itself has claimed credit, but this is simply not its usual M.O. While A.Q.’s attacks in Saudi have, on occasion, involved the deaths of Saudi nationals, they are usually either incidental or collateral to a primary intent to attack and kill foreigners. The royal family is virtually never targeted (something about “don’t s*** where you eat”)… to attack a Saudi refinery in Saudi… is just not A.Q.’s m.o….
Just as Professor Cole (or at least some of his commenters… and me) believe that a good deal of the current unrest and instigations to possible civil war in Iraq have a “Made in Iran” sign on them, so too this latest incident.
Throw in some other crazy events going on, such as this nation’s insanely mishandled relations with the Venezuelan government leading just today, for example, to things like a reduction in permission of American flights to Caracas, or serious bad-ass unrest in Nigeria (partly attributable to that cartoon flap, which Iran seems to have had a hand in stoking up IMHO)… that lead to pause. Why do I say that? Because, of course, OPEC members Venezuela and Nigeria are huge suppliers of oil to… the United States.
Needless to say, oil and gold prices are already edging upward. Saudi Arabia is the world’s “swing” oil producer– the only major exporter with capacity to add to output on short notice; Russia is trying to get there, but doesn’t have the infrastructure up to speed (it should in a few years’ time, though as its own economy develops, and as nearby China’s and India’s develop as well and draw a good deal of that Russian oil, it won’t be nearly as helpful as we’d like it to be). Iraq would have been in a position to be a significant exporter as it once was (its second only to Saudi in proven reserves), but it too has a little… infrastructure problem. For reasons, kind of… too numerous to mention.
But another country– third in proven reserves– stands to benefit handily if, say, some really bad s*** were to happen to the Saudis. The same country poised to be in close alignment with its sudden new Shiite democratic theocracy of a neighbor geographically and alphabetically…
And none of this had to be this way. We could have followed up the good will we had shortly after 9-11 and united the world against Al Qaedaincluding making common cause if not friendship with that now troublesome Farsi speaking country which but for the need to have them in the rhetorical “Axis of Evil” had been, and was at one time, downright helpful battling OBL, AQ and the Taliban. (via Unqualified Offerings.)
Instead, we made the “you’re with us or against us” Manichean idiocy worldview of our infantile leader a reality, and made sure Iran was against us. And that’s where we are.
I’ve quipped that I believe a big part of the Iraq Adventure was about assisting in Saudi oil export hegemony. Well, the Saudis are in no position to do that if their own oil infrastructure proves as vulnerable as Iraq’s. It would seem that the forces of lunacy we have stirred up after our Iraq adventure have now blown-back on us and our friends, and threatened not merely Iraq, but Saudi itself (and, doubtless, the other non-Iran Gulf states have to be damned concerned.) The Saudis appear to have dodged a bullet today. More attacks will come, and its only a matter of time before some damage is done to Saudi infrastructure; for example, I understand that around half of all Saudi oil flows through one particular group of pipeline junctions. Not good, when some committed group has decided to target oil infrastructure. Not good at all.
Pay no attention to the lunatic Iranian President; as we know from the last one, Khatami the would be reformer, President there is about as influential as, say, Poet Laureate is here. It’s a nice title, but the mullahs and ayatollahs are in charge. Those mullahs… they sure seem to know what they’re doing. I damned well wish we did.