by Brecht Jonkers (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 48, No. 8, Safar, 1441)
On September 14, the world experienced a shockwave. The mujahidin of Yemen struck the world’s largest oil refinery complex in a highly successful drone strike on Abqaiq and Khurais in Saudi Arabia.
It is not possible to overstate the importance of the strike on Saudi Aramco facilities in the grand scheme of things. Yemen has been a forgotten and underreported conflict ever since the Saudi-Emirati-US alliance invaded the impoverished country in March 2015. It is a war so vile, so destructive, and so bereft of any justification, that the imperialist mainstream media outlets have decided to not even try to justify it. Rather, they have opted for silence. Ignore it and people will not notice, is their policy.
For four and a half years, the aggressors have subjected impoverished Yemen’s civilians to constant bombings. Nearly half of the country’s landmass has been occupied. There is constant infighting and mass murders in the occupied east and south of Yemen. The Saudi-UAE invaders provide open support to terrorist organisations such as al-Qaeda and Da‘ish. Despite all this being known publicly, there is barely a peep in the major media outlets of the US, UK, or the rest of Europe.
But all that changed in one swift operation by the forces of the National Salvation Government of Yemen, often called “the Houthis” by the imperialist media. As many as 10 drones were reported to have struck the Abqaiq and Khurais petroleum refineries. The economic damage to the Kingdom is devastating. More than half of the petroleum production and export of the Wahhabi state was cut down in a single day, making Riyadh lose out on as much as 5.7 million barrels of crude oil exports daily.
According to specialist consultancy agency Energy Aspects, the Saudi kingdom also suffered a setback of 18% in natural gas production and as much as 50% in ethane and liquified gas output. The massive decrease in available crude oil, combined with damage to the refinery, have had the additional effect of causing a shortage of refined petroleum products. These are needed to repair and run the refinery’s machinery.
In stark irony, Energy Aspects reported that it is highly likely that Saudi Arabia, the kingdom founded because of oil and entirely dependent on it, will be forced to import gasoline, diesel and fuel oil just to keep its own oil-based economy afloat.
While the royals and their ministers in Riyadh guaranteed that the Abqaiq and Khurais facilities were up and running again by September 16, experts estimate that full recovery will take at least two weeks. That is, if no further retaliatory strikes are carried out from the land of Sheba. That does not take into account the hydrogen sulphur that has been released by the fires when the strike occurred. This is likely to directly reduce the efficiency of pumping installations.
The results of the Yemeni retaliation against their invader’s bread and butter were felt around the world. Oil prices jumped by no less than 20% on the global markets, forcing the US to announce a release of its own strategic petroleum reserves in order to avoid a major economic disaster.
Naturally, accusations from Riyadh and Washington went straight to the Islamic Republic of Iran, claiming Tehran was behind the strikes. And reflecting raw racism, they claimed the proud people of Yemen are “too backward” to pull off an attack of this magnitude. However, unbiased analysis of the facts show that Yemen most definitely could, and would, retaliate against their aggressors in such a spectacular manner. The accusation against Iran was also meant to divert attention from Saudi incompetence and the failure of US-supplied billion-dollar-a-piece Patriot missile batteries to intercept incoming drones.
It must be borne in mind, this is not the first airstrike, be it by missiles or by unmanned aircraft, that the Republic of Yemen has carried out against the Najdi invaders. While counterattacks deep inside Saudi territory have been taking place ever since the start of the war, the year 2019 has seen a surge in successful high-profile retaliations.
On May 14, the Saudi regime was forced to stop pumping crude oil in its main pipelines across the country, following Yemeni drone strikes against two Aramco facilities west of Riyadh. On June 12, a missile strike launched from inside Yemen hit Abha International Airport, which was in use by the Saudi military at the time, exploding right in the arrivals hall and causing major damage. It is noteworthy that Abha is over 100 km from the Yemeni border. The airport was hit again just five days later and yet again on July 2, destroying a hangar for military planes. Together with the Saudi military airbase of Khamis Mushayt in ‘Asir province, the airport of Abha has been struck multiple times in the past few months. This reflects the total incompetence of Saudi air defence systems.
The month of August 2019 started with a double missile and drone attack against two very different Saudi targets. First, a joint missile and UAV strike at a camp of Saudi-backed mercenaries in the southern port city of Aden killed dozens of collaborators. And then the Yemeni mujahidin hit a Saudi military base in Dammam city, in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia that is hundreds of kilometres away from the Yemeni border.
On August 17, an attack took place that can be seen as a general rehearsal of sorts for the Abqaiq and Khurais strikes. Using a fleet of drones, Yemen’s revolutionaries attacked the Shaybah oil refinery. The massive refinery unit, located no less than 1,100 km from Yemen, was chosen specifically for its proximity to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In one attack, the Yemeni revolutionaries not only proved their capacity to strike deep inside Saudi Arabia and hit its economic lifeline, but also sent shivers down the spine of the Emirate rulers.
“The UAE must quit the Saudi-led aggression if it wants to save its glass towers,” Yemeni military spokesman Yahya Sari‘ warned in crystal clear terms after the mid-September strikes.
The Yemeni struggle for independence and liberty has been a source of inspiration for years. Yet after September 14, the war against the US-Israeli-Saudi-UAE-led aggressors has entered a new phase. It may lead to the collapse of Bani Saud’s rule over the Kingdom. Should that happen, it would be widely celebrated by committed Muslims worldwide.