Syraq SITREP 27: Saudi Power Play and War Drums in Lebanon

In addition to the Saudis' threatening to strike back against Iran at the time and place of their choosing (something that they never seem to have the balls to do directly against Iranian territory), the Kingdom's spokesmen have accused Hezbollah of hijacking Lebanon and declaring war against it. The death of a prince in a helicopter crash in Asir province, which borders Yemen, could be an internal hit. Yet as ZeroHedge notes, the proximity to Yemen means that Houthi infiltrators with MANPADs could be blamed for public consumption in the Kingdom and in the region. Both are distinct possibilities which cannot be ruled out, particularly since the Houthis lack high performance new generation surface to air missiles but have plenty of pissed off fighters willing to risk torture and death if captured to infiltrate the Saudi Kingdom with MANPADs and shoot down government choppers or ambush security forces. 

Irony alert: The Lebanese PM (with a Saudi passport) resigns on order of Saudi Arabia, in Saudi Arabia, on Saudi Arabian TV. In his Saudi written resignation statement (excerpts) he accuses Iran of foreign meddling in Lebanese politics.

(Hariri also suddenly claims that there was an assassination planned against him in Lebanon. This is nonsense. The Lebanese internal security organization says it has no knowledge of such a plot. Hariri needs an excuse to stay away from Lebanon and from the wrath of his followers. Saudi media are trying to create some fantastic story from that assassination claim. But there is nothing evident to back it up.)

Saudi Arabia's Weak Hand in the Region as Iran Grows Stronger by the Day

Nonetheless, RogueMoney readers are not shocked by these developments, even if the timing seems particularly 'on the nose' in terms of the Saudis stirring up political turmoil in Lebanon at the very moment Hezbollah and its Syrian Arab Army (SAA) allies are finishing off the last ISIS strongholds on the Iraqi border. Furthermore, what appears to be muscle flexing of Saudi Arabia's largest in the region military budget and supposedly potent capabilities is in reality, an admission of weakness. President Trump and his advisers like Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is angling to have the Aramco IPO listed on U.S. exchanges, cementing Saudi loyalty to the petrodollar rather than selling crude in yuan -- but it isn't clear if it will happen at all.

Much like the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's ambitions to build a megacity on the Red Sea, it may be a castle constructed on sand. But the desperate Saudis, caught between the risks of being denounced as sponsors of 9/11 if not killed if they dump the petrodollar, and the demands of their chief Chinese customer to make peace with Iran and adopt the petroyuan, aren't the only ones with illusions. The Israelis too, have started to admit in their English language press that their leadership may suffer from strategic delusions, of which the overemphasis on technology like the 'stealth' F35 and tactics is a symptom (for observers of the U.S. military's increasing bloat and ineffectiveness, this probably sounds familiar):

Israel's Strategic Myopia and the Debated Risks of Waging Another Lebanon War

Alex Fishman, the doyen of Israeli defense columnists, has written that Israel simply has failed to adjust to strategic change, and is locked in a narrow “cold war” mentality:

“The Syrians fire rockets at open areas: Israel destroys Syrian cannons in response; the Iranians threaten to deploy Shiite forces in Syria: Israel announces ‘red lines’ and threatens a military conflict; Fatah and Hamas hold futile talks on a unity government: the prime minister declares Israel is suspending talks with the Palestinans – and everyone here applauds the security and political echelons: – ‘there, we showed them the meaning of deterrence’, [the Israeli leadership repeats].

“But what we are seeing here is a provincial defense policy, a false representation of a leadership that barely sees beyond the tip of its nose, and is busy putting out fires day and night.

“It’s a leadership that sees national security through a narrow regional viewpoint. It’s as if everything beyond Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran doesn’t exist. It’s as if the world around us hasn’t changed in the past decades, and we are stuck in the era of aggressive solutions in the form of reward and punishment as the main political-security activity. The current political-security echelon isn’t solving problems, isn’t dealing with problems, but simply postponing them, passing them on to the next generation”

What Fishman is pointing to is profound: Israel has gained some tactical victories in the neighborhood (i.e. over the Palestinians generally, and in weakening Hamas), but it has lost sight of the wider strategic picture. In effect, Israel has lost its ability to dominate the region. It had wanted a weakened and fragmented Syria; it had wanted a Hezbollah mired in the Syrian mud, and an Iran circumscribed by Sunni sectarian antipathy towards the Shi’a generally. It is unlikely to get any of these.

Rather, Israel finds itself being deterred (rather than doing the deterring) by the knowledge that it cannot now overturn its strategic weakness (i.e. risk a three-front war) – unless, and only if, America will fully enter into any conflict, in support of Israel. And this is what worries the security and intelligence echelon: Would America now contemplate a decisive intervention on behalf of Israel – unless the latter’s very survival was at risk?

In 2006, Israeli officials recall, the U.S. did not enter Israel’s war against Hizbullah in Lebanon, and after 33 days, it was Israel that sought a ceasefire.

Fishman is right too that attacking Syrian factories and radar positions “out of old habit” solves nothing. It may be sold to the Israeli public as “deterrence,” but rather it is playing with fire. Syria has started to fire back with aged surface-to-air missiles (S200s) at Israeli aircraft. These missiles may not have hit an Israeli jet yet, and maybe were not even intended so to do. The Syrian message however, is clear: these missiles may be old, but they have a longer range than the newer S300: Potentially, their range is sufficient to reach Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv.

Are the Israelis sure that Syria and Hezbollah don’t have more modern missiles? Are they certain that Iran or Russia will not provide them such? The Russian defense minister was very angry on his visit to Tel Aviv to have been faced with an Israeli retaliatory air attack on a Syrian radar and missile position –as a welcome gift on landing in Israel. To his protests, his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Lieberman condescendingly said that Israel needed nobody’s advice in respect to Israel’s security. General Sergey Shoygu reportedly was not amused.

The Paradise Papers Pushes #TrumpRussia Same Week Saudi Princes Are Arrested:
Will Those Opposed to MBS Purge Confess to Funding ISIS Without the King's Knowledge?

All the same, as W the Intelligence Insider has reminded this audience in shows on the Mideast conflict beyond Syria, starting World War One 103 years ago made little sense for any of the great empires involved, and resulted in their destruction. Even the British, whose offshore balancing strategy had manipulated the various European powers against each other for centuries, had to accept the junior partner role and eventual mortgaging of their empire to pay for both World Wars.

The Paradise Papers leaks from the usual Soros funded suspects pushing stories on Wilbur Ross alleged tight links with a shipping company owned by Vladimir Putin's son in law and even offshore accounts controlled by the British Royal Family appear to be another strike in the ongoing Rothschild versus Rockefeller mob war, with the latter desperately trying to defend the Clinton crime family from going down before its dark queen-pin occult priestess of Chappaqua expires of 'natural causes'. The fact that the UK Guardian are throwing in exposes of offshore accounts linked to Bono and Madonna is just window dressing to the main course of moving #MuhRussia scandal and Mueller's indictments forward in Washington.

However, as RogueMoney readers know moves beget counter moves and the recently rounded up Saudi princes could suddenly decide to confess the 'shocking' secret that the arms and money they shipped to various 'moderate' Syria jihadists for years actually wound up with Al-Qaeda and ISIS -- with the knowledge and complicity of a certain now ex-CIA director known for his conversion to Islam and affinities to the Saudi royal family. The same CIA director who worked with DNI James Clapper and FBI Director James Comey to launder the partisan Democrat/MI6 dirty dossier into the intelligence community and use it as a basis to fraudulently obtain FISA warrants against Trump's team. Thus the ongoing shake up in the tottering House of Saud has everything to do with the failed wars waged by Riyadh in both Syria and Yemen, as well as the Sauds turn to the Trumps and Kushners for relief. As they used to say in Russia, if only the Tsar knew -- and in Saudi Arabia, it would be 'his royal highness the custodian of the two holy mosques is appalled by the illicit funding of extremism' that has been going on.

For all their ludicrous $85 billion 'defense' budget and bluster, the Saudis know they have almost nothing to gain and everything to lose in a war with Iran, especially if the Shi'a of their oil rich eastern provinces rise up. The Israeli elites too, are divided on whether to act now or bide their time and wait for Hezbollah to make an aggressive move or strike first with overwhelming force. However, it appears this week some globalist players behind the scenes are seeking to force shaky or impetuous regional hands to act.