Close
Date TimeSeptember 16, 2019
Voice
Saudi Arabia knows its defences are not up to war with Iran
The smoke rising above above Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil field might seem at first like the justification Riyadh has been waiting for.  If the White House is to be believed, Iran launched an unprovoked attack on the kingdom’s most important oil facilities. Saudi Arabia would be within its rights to strike its Iranian archrivals in response.  In an evening tweet, Donald Trump even appeared to give Saudi Arabia a say in whether the US would attack Iran. “[The US is] waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!” Saudi Arabia has the power to bring fire and fury down on its most-hated foe but may be reluctant to actually that power. The reality is the Saudis are deeply skittish about the prospects of any war with Iran because they know they will be Tehran’s main target.  If fighting breaks out between the US and Iran, the Iranians will have relatively few chances to strike America directly. They could target US ships in the Persian Gulf or order their Shia militia proxies to harass American forces in Iraq.  But most of their fire is likely to be aimed at the soft underbelly of Saudi Arabia, which is well within range of Iran’s missiles on the other side of the Gulf.   Strikes against Saudi oil plants “Saudi Arabia will not support a war with Iran that has a Saudi return address on it,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.  “Saudi Arabia would support a war between the US and Iran, if Saudi Arabia could hide behind the US, but not one where the Saudis must step out in front, because the Saudis would lose.” Although the kingdom is the world’s third largest defence spender after the US and China, its military is fairly ineffective and would struggle against Iranian forces hardened by decades of unconventional warfare across the region.  Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, openly lamented the disparity between the quality of his troops’ weapons and the paucity of their fighting skills. “It is unacceptable that we are the world’s third or fourth biggest country in military spending but our army is ranked in the twenties [in ability],” he said in 2016. “There is a problem.” Mohammed bin Salman had lamented his forces' capabilities Credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo That problem has been mercilessly exposed on the battlefields of Yemen, where Saudi forces equipped with state-of-the-art British and American weaponry have been fought to a stalemate by ragtag Houthi rebel fighters backed by Iran.   This vulnerability explains why, despite Riyadh’s strong rhetoric towards Iran, the Saudis have often looked to de-escalate in the face of Iranian provocations.   After two Saudi oil tankers were bombed in a mysterious sabotage attack in May, the US pointed the finger directly at Iran. Yet, Saudi Arabia hemmed and hawed and appeared reluctant to place the blame on anyone.  In their initial statements about this week's attack, Saudi officials have confirmed the weapons were Iranian-made but have not gone as far as the US in directly blaming Iran. As with the tanker attacks, they may now say that a lengthy investigation is needed to determine the culprits, giving time for passions to fade.    The kingdom surely dream of ridding itself of its rivals in the Islamic Republic across the narrow water. But if the price of confronting Iran is far more smoke billowing above burning Saudi oil fields then Riyadh will probably look for a way to back down.

Related Stories
The ATF Has Been Enforcing a Rule That Does Not ExistThe ATF Has Been Enforcing a Rule That Does Not Exist
Investigation Launched Into Awarding Of Grant To Boris Johnsons Close FriendInvestigation Launched Into Awarding Of Grant To Boris Johnson's 'Close Friend'
Donald Trump vows to hit Taliban harder than ever on 9/11 anniversaryDonald Trump vows to 'hit Taliban harder than ever' on 9/11 anniversary
Trump insists incorrect ‘Sharpiegate’ hurricane map is accurateTrump insists incorrect ‘Sharpiegate’ hurricane map is accurate
John Oliver Explains Why Trump Might Finally Be Impeached Over Ukraine Whistleblower ScandalJohn Oliver Explains Why Trump Might Finally Be Impeached Over Ukraine Whistleblower Scandal
The blockbuster that wasnt: inside an alleged $14m scam to make the next Netflix hitThe blockbuster that wasn't: inside an alleged $14m scam to make the next Netflix hit
Bill Clinton and Jeb Bush seek refuge from Trump impeachment stormBill Clinton and Jeb Bush seek refuge from Trump impeachment storm
Diahann Carroll Remembered by Ava DuVernay, Mitzi Gaynor and More:  ‘One of the All-Time Greats’Diahann Carroll Remembered by Ava DuVernay, Mitzi Gaynor and More: ‘One of the All-Time Greats’
Anthony Joshua defends desert fight and points to Saudi Arabia ‘reforms’Anthony Joshua defends desert fight and points to Saudi Arabia ‘reforms’
Burberry Is Selling Half Blazer, Half Puffer Coats – For Nearly £3,000Burberry Is Selling Half Blazer, Half Puffer Coats – For Nearly £3,000
Latest News
Thousands Descend On London For Peoples Vote March – Here Are Some Of The Best SignsThousands Descend On London For People's Vote March – Here Are Some Of The Best Signs
Boris Johnson Forced To Request Brexit Delay After MPs Amend Halloween DeadlineBoris Johnson Forced To Request Brexit Delay After MPs Amend Halloween Deadline
Labours Caroline Flint Blames EU For Rise In Zero Hours ContractsLabour's Caroline Flint Blames EU For Rise In Zero Hours Contracts
Could France and Germany Jointly Build an EU Aircraft Carrier?Could France and Germany Jointly Build an EU Aircraft Carrier?
Mexico admits freeing Chapos son after badly planned operationMexico admits freeing Chapo's son after 'badly planned' operation
Turkish-backed forces, Kurds clash despite Syria cease-fireTurkish-backed forces, Kurds clash despite Syria cease-fire
Lebanons Nasrallah says hes against government resignationLebanon's Nasrallah says he's against government resignation
U.S. Democrats Pelosi, Schumer call agreement with Turkey to pause Syria assault a shamU.S. Democrats Pelosi, Schumer call agreement with Turkey to pause Syria assault a 'sham'
Mexico breaks ground on new airport project outside capitalMexico breaks ground on new airport project outside capital
Patti Smith: ‘Reading Mark Twain gave me such anxiety I threw up’Patti Smith: ‘Reading Mark Twain gave me such anxiety I threw up’
Leaders
Donald-TrumpDonald Trump
45th President of the United States of America
Mike-PenceMike Pence
Vice President of the United States
Boris-JohnsonBoris Johnson
British Prime Minister
Angela-MerkelAngela Merkel
Chancellor of Germany
Emmanuel-MacronEmmanuel Macron
President of France
Justin-TrudeauJustin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Nancy-PelosiNancy Pelosi
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Barack-ObamaBarack Obama
44th U.S. President
Theresa-MayTheresa May
Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom
Vladimir-PutinVladimir Putin
Russian President
Shinzo-AbeShinzō Abe
Prime Minister of Japan
Related Stories
The ATF Has Been Enforcing a Rule That Does Not ExistThe ATF Has Been Enforcing a Rule That Does Not Exist
Investigation Launched Into Awarding Of Grant To Boris Johnsons Close FriendInvestigation Launched Into Awarding Of Grant To Boris Johnson's 'Close Friend'
Donald Trump vows to hit Taliban harder than ever on 9/11 anniversaryDonald Trump vows to 'hit Taliban harder than ever' on 9/11 anniversary
Trump insists incorrect ‘Sharpiegate’ hurricane map is accurateTrump insists incorrect ‘Sharpiegate’ hurricane map is accurate
John Oliver Explains Why Trump Might Finally Be Impeached Over Ukraine Whistleblower ScandalJohn Oliver Explains Why Trump Might Finally Be Impeached Over Ukraine Whistleblower Scandal
The blockbuster that wasnt: inside an alleged $14m scam to make the next Netflix hitThe blockbuster that wasn't: inside an alleged $14m scam to make the next Netflix hit
Bill Clinton and Jeb Bush seek refuge from Trump impeachment stormBill Clinton and Jeb Bush seek refuge from Trump impeachment storm
Diahann Carroll Remembered by Ava DuVernay, Mitzi Gaynor and More:  ‘One of the All-Time Greats’Diahann Carroll Remembered by Ava DuVernay, Mitzi Gaynor and More: ‘One of the All-Time Greats’
Anthony Joshua defends desert fight and points to Saudi Arabia ‘reforms’Anthony Joshua defends desert fight and points to Saudi Arabia ‘reforms’
Burberry Is Selling Half Blazer, Half Puffer Coats – For Nearly £3,000Burberry Is Selling Half Blazer, Half Puffer Coats – For Nearly £3,000
Latest News
Thousands Descend On London For Peoples Vote March – Here Are Some Of The Best SignsThousands Descend On London For People's Vote March – Here Are Some Of The Best Signs
Boris Johnson Forced To Request Brexit Delay After MPs Amend Halloween DeadlineBoris Johnson Forced To Request Brexit Delay After MPs Amend Halloween Deadline
Labours Caroline Flint Blames EU For Rise In Zero Hours ContractsLabour's Caroline Flint Blames EU For Rise In Zero Hours Contracts
Could France and Germany Jointly Build an EU Aircraft Carrier?Could France and Germany Jointly Build an EU Aircraft Carrier?
Mexico admits freeing Chapos son after badly planned operationMexico admits freeing Chapo's son after 'badly planned' operation
Turkish-backed forces, Kurds clash despite Syria cease-fireTurkish-backed forces, Kurds clash despite Syria cease-fire
Lebanons Nasrallah says hes against government resignationLebanon's Nasrallah says he's against government resignation
U.S. Democrats Pelosi, Schumer call agreement with Turkey to pause Syria assault a shamU.S. Democrats Pelosi, Schumer call agreement with Turkey to pause Syria assault a 'sham'
Mexico breaks ground on new airport project outside capitalMexico breaks ground on new airport project outside capital
Patti Smith: ‘Reading Mark Twain gave me such anxiety I threw up’Patti Smith: ‘Reading Mark Twain gave me such anxiety I threw up’
Leaders
Donald-TrumpDonald Trump
45th President of the United States of America
Mike-PenceMike Pence
Vice President of the United States
Boris-JohnsonBoris Johnson
British Prime Minister
Angela-MerkelAngela Merkel
Chancellor of Germany
Emmanuel-MacronEmmanuel Macron
President of France
Justin-TrudeauJustin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Nancy-PelosiNancy Pelosi
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Barack-ObamaBarack Obama
44th U.S. President
Theresa-MayTheresa May
Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom
Vladimir-PutinVladimir Putin
Russian President
Shinzo-AbeShinzō Abe
Prime Minister of Japan
Half of the 147 tigers rescued from Thai temple have died
The Attack on Saudi Arabia Is the Crisis Iran Was Waiting For
China signals veto in standoff with U.S. over Afghan U.N. mission: diplomats
The Latest: Taliban claim attacks on Ghani rally, in Kabul
Taiwan says China meddling with elections after Solomon Islands cuts ties
Jihad, history link Taliban to al-Qaida in Afghanistan
Earth to warm more quickly, new climate models show
Saudi Aramco attacks: What we know so far
Tyler, the Creator review – hero's welcome for rap's heartbroken dandy
Keane: how we made Somewhere Only We Know
Tracks of the week reviewed: AG Cook, Post Malone, Bombay Bicycle Club
BBC's Graham Norton struggles to explain the whole Brexit mess to Stephen Colbert and America
The Spin | Ashes 2019: Guardian writers pick out their highs and lows
South Africa reveal scope of random drug testing at Rugby World Cup
David Squires on … a famous day for the Rebel Alliance, Norwich branch
Neglect of player welfare is something women’s football must address fast | Suzanne Wrack
County cricket: Hampshire v Somerset, Essex v Surrey, and more – live!
Carlo Ancelotti has all the pieces in place. Now Napoli seek silverware
Talking Horses: terribly unlucky Deirdre looks huge at 25-1 for Ascot
Buy a classic sport photograph: jumping in the fog at White Hart Lane
Klopp on Champions League: ‘We want to create more stories’ – video
A Minuscule Adventure review – sweet animated tale minus Hollywood distractions
Weapon of choice: how lightsabers hold the key to the Star Wars universe
Woman Rewrites Her Cervical Screening Letter, Urges NHS To Change Its Language
New ‘Politburo’ Plan To Allow Labour’s NEC To Seize Control If Corbyn Suddenly Quits
Elon Musk Claims Branding Hero Diver A 'Pedo Guy' Did Not Mean He Was Accusing Him Of Paedophilia
I Had Two Kids. Now I Work To Influence People Against Having Their Own
Gary Lineker Volunteers To Cut His £1.75m BBC Salary
Adam Mansbach’s Book 'F*ck, Now There Are Two of You' Is For Parents In The Trenches
I Put My Mental Health Before My Career, But I Still Feel Like A Failure
3 Women On Being 'Locked Out' Of Sexual Health Services Due To Their Disability
Asos Is Selling A Fake Headphone Ear Piece And We Have Questions
Gareth Thomas' HIV Announcement Can Help End The Stigma So Many Of Us Live With
Top Boy soundtrack review – a showcase of UK rap's strength and diversity
Can you pack Taylor Swift’s London tour into a day?
Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, and Seth Meyers are getting worried about Trump's Alabama hurricane obsession
Valencia’s response to the crisis? A statement that infuriates fans more | Sid Lowe
Australia seal women's T20 series with nine-wicket win over West Indies
Football transfer rumours: Celtic's Edouard to join Napoli for £30m?
Stephen Colbert and Conan O'Brien pay tribute to the late, great Ric Ocasek
Ilhan Omar doesn’t trust Trump administration, warns against another ‘endless war’
How a thrilling eight minute short might save the Jurassic franchise
Why the best film of the 21st century is There Will Be Blood
The best Stephen King movies … ranked!
The Abyss at 30: why James Cameron's sci-fi epic is really about love
From Trolls to Transformers: toy films – ranked!
Pro-Remain Activists Deploy Phone App To Mobilise Against Brexit At Labour Conference
Four Arrests Over Murder Of Newlywed PC Andrew Harper
Who Is Involved In Supreme Court Challenge To Boris Johnson's Suspension Of Parliament
Rachel Riley Reveals Online Trolls Caused Her Unborn Baby To Stop Kicking
Strictly Come Dancing's Oti Mabuse Admits Fears She'd Be Axed From This Year's Series
New SNL Cast Member Fired After Using Racist And Homophobic Slurs
Hackney Fire: Woman Led To Safety From East London Apartment Block Blaze
Climate Change And Brexit Could Risk UK's Food Supply, MPs Say
Government Policy Is Putting Children In Care At Risk Of Exploitation. Why?
BBC to switch off Red Button information service in 2020
RNLI donations surge after Tory criticism of its work overseas
Protest held outside trial of Moroccan journalist accused of illegal abortion
Unbelievable: the quiet power of Netflix's fact-based rape drama
Saudi Wealth and Weaponry Still Can’t Guarantee Oil’s Protection
US service member killed in action in Afghanistan: NATO
Amazon deforestation is driven by criminal networks, report finds
Artists refusing to make gay wedding invitations win US legal battle
Newly Appointed Women’s March Board Member Accused FBI of Recruiting for ISIS
Stephen Colbert isn't convinced Saudi Arabia should send America's military into war with Iran
Dancing the salsa, Sean Spicer makes his non-sizzling debut on Dancing with the Stars
Natural Born Killers at 25: the problem with Oliver Stone's hit film
The Worst Home Decor Trends Of The Past 40 Years, From Avocado Bathrooms To Fake Fruit
Best Christmas Toys For 2019, As Tested By Lots Of Children
Gradual Heart Attacks 'Not Taken Seriously' – Here Are The Symptoms
What To Do If You're No Longer Feeling Attracted To Your Partner
Saudi attacks underscore evolving drone threat, experts say
The Latest: GOP stands by Kavanaugh, rips NY Times
Hong Kong faces commuter chaos after rare train derailment
Foxconn Billionaire Terry Gou Drops Taiwan Presidential Bid
Mexico: 5 shot dead in Tabasco bar amid holiday celebrations
Putin Loses Legendary Approval-Rating Crown to His New Neighbor
WRAPUP 1-Attack on Saudi oil facility came from direction of Iran, not Yemen -U.S. official
Odell Beckham stars as Browns beat limping Jets for first win of the season
Trevor Noah unpacks the 'messy' new Brett Kavanaugh sexual misconduct allegations
For everyone's safety, Seth Meyers would like to unleash American Pharoah in the Oval Office
Australia secure T20 series victory with nine-wicket win over West Indies
Trump says US locked and loaded in response to drone attack
California governor acts to stem 'epidemic' of youth vaping
New tropical system likely to join Humberto in Atlantic
New Kavanaugh allegation unlikely to prompt impeachment
London Zoo discovers largest amphibian in the world, which they unknowingly exhibited for 20 years
Iran seizes new boat near vital oil shipping lane
Agency could keep Three Mile Island nuclear debris in Idaho
The Obamas' first film: will American Factory be the biggest documentary of 2019?
Times faces questions all around for Kavanaugh story
Strengthening Hurricane Humberto to close in on Bermuda
Hong Kong lawmaker urges UN to probe growing 'police brutality'
Greta Thunberg Is the Climate Heroine We Need
Dad of Parkland shooting victim says taking guns away isn't the answer
Elon Musk claims 'pedo guy' tweet did not suggest British diver was paedophile
India arrests senior Kashmir leader under controversial law
Rugby World Cup 2019: Australia team guide
Former Hearts manager Jim Jefferies recovering after heart attack
Five times Mark Ruffalo was a force for good
** EMBARGO ** Climate Change And Brexit Could Risk UK's Food Supply, MPs Say
Billie Piper Was 'Worried' About Having A Daughter – And Relieved Her First Two Kids Were Boys
Labour’s ‘Moderate’ Student Wing Facing Replacement With More Pro-Corbyn Body
Wisconsin man accused of making THC cartridges charged
California Bans State-Sponsored Travel to Iowa over Refusal to Provide Medicaid Coverage for Gender-Reassignment Surgeries
Investigation into alleged surveillance abuse and targeting of the Trump campaign is in its final stages
Factbox: U.S. lawsuits take aim at vaping
Conservative group known for hardball tactics leads charge in Kavanaugh defense
Arrested Canadian police official had access to foreign intelligence
Trump's rally in New Mexico is a bid for an upset next year
Venezuelan government mulls sending lawmakers back to opposition assembly
Why Your Carbon Footprint Is Meaningless
Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool land in Italy intent on defending their crown
England itching to get going but Maro Itoje wary of Tonga’s physical threat
Pettersen’s path to Solheim captaincy may be blocked by Catriona Matthew
Arthur Masuaku sees red as West Ham hold out for a point at Aston Villa
Arsenal’s Daniëlle van de Donk breaks stubborn Manchester United resistance
RAF serviceman dies after sustaining injury in rugby league match
SNL Fires New Cast Member Shane Gillis Over Racist Asian Jokes
Thousands Of Vulnerable Children Becoming 'Magnets' For Drug Gangs, Warn MPs
Government Policy Is Putting Foster Children At Risk Of Exploitation. Why?
Snowden says he would return to US if he can get a fair trial
Working Families Party Endorses Elizabeth Warren After Backing Bernie Sanders in 2016
Qatar announces new residency scheme for investors
Trump warns the US is ‘locked and loaded’ after attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities
Suspected Florida Serial Killer Linked to Murders of Four Women: Authorities
Oil jumps nearly 15% in record trading after attack on Saudi facilities
Egypt says no 'breakthrough' with Ethiopia over Nile dam
Venezuela's govt says its lawmakers will return to opposition-led legislature
‘Game of Thrones’ nabs 10 early Emmys, Beyoncé gets snubbed
Duane ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ Chapman hospitalized with chest pains
Luxembourg PM mocks Boris Johnson after PM skips press conference
'Seinfeld' is heading to Netflix in 2021
Sacrificing Ashes for a World Cup win appears worthwhile for England | Vic Marks
Ben Stokes backs Jofra Archer to help England regain Ashes in Australia
Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal: Women's Super League – live!
County cricket: Kent's Stevens and Billings share 346 runs – as it happened
How Elon Musk is trying to explain away his 'pedo guy' insult in court
Seinfeld is coming to Netflix in 2021
‘The Wendy Williams Show’ Renewed For Two More Seasons Through 2021-22
Vaping Bad: Were two brothers from Wisconsin the Walter Whites of THC oils?
Judge's stern barks at dogfighting defendants prompt appeals
Oil prices leap as attack on Saudi facility disrupts output
New EU chief doubles down on 'European way of life' tag
What If Donald Trump Just Happened by Accident?
Political turmoil, price freeze cast shadow on Argentina's Vaca Muerta
IS leader calls on fighters to free detained comrades
Aston Villa v West Ham: Premier League – live!
Manchester United v Arsenal: Women's Super League – live!
Troubled jockey Graham Gibbons jailed after fourth drink-driving conviction
Frank Lampard wary of Valencia threat despite off-field uncertainty
Spectre of Israel Folau hangs over Wallabies' Rugby World Cup tilt | Bret Harris
Curtain falls on Super Netball season with Swifts targeting dynasty | Erin Delahunty
Funko Toys to Become Animated Movie at Warner Bros
Netflix Lands ‘Seinfeld’ Streaming Rights Starting in 2021
Mean, moody, or a mope? If Boris is the Hulk, which Hulk is he?
Netflix co-founder: 'Blockbuster laughed at us … Now there's one left'
Yemen rebels threaten new attacks on Saudi oil sites
Warren Goes After Trump’s Sister in Anti-Corruption Push
ICC prosecutor appeals acquittal of I.Coast's Gbagbo
Spain won't extradite Venezuela's ex-spymaster to US
Almost 50,000 GM workers on strike, auto-maker shares slide
Biden on racism: White people 'can never fully understand'
Inside the US military's $223 million 'doomsday plane,' capable of surviving a nuclear blast
Gay Softball League Leads to Major Supreme Court Job-Bias Case
Iran says it will adopt maximum crude output policy if U.S. lifts sanctions
Rod Stewart given all-clear following secret cancer treatment
McCabe v Prince Abdullah: how battle for control of Sheffield United unfolded
Manchester City and the perils of playing out from the back – Football Weekly
County cricket: Hampshire v Somerset, Essex v Surrey and more – as it happened
Ben Roethlisberger's NFL season over with Drew Brees set to miss six weeks
Nike's 'Dream Crazy' advert starring Colin Kaepernick wins Emmy
PSG fans don't want to hear it, but Neymar is their best route to success
The Fiver | Norwich hoisting Pep Guardiola and his men by their own petard
UK Blames Luxembourg For Boris Johnson Press Conference Debacle
Universities' Lack Of Mental Health Care 'Intolerable' Says Former Minister
It's Official: People Have Started Their Christmas Shopping Already
The Health Problems You May Be Able To Treat Without Visiting A GP
Prince Harry And Prince William Send Support To ‘Legend’ Gareth Thomas After He Is Forced To Go Public With His HIV Status
Nursery 'Settle In' Times Are A Right Pain In The A***
Indian authorities step up rescue effort for 20 tourists missing after boat capsize
Big global climate protests on Friday get union support
Subterranean blaze: Indonesia struggles to douse underground fires
Omar Responds to Family of 9/11 Victim Who Criticized Her
New Warren Plan Would Build a Wall Between Lobbyists and Policy
James Murdoch: 'There are views I really disagree with' on Fox News
Tom Homan rips Democratic efforts to abolish ICE
Edward Snowden ‘would love’ to be granted asylum in France
Five steps England must take to regain the Ashes in 2020-21 | Rob Smyth
Air of unpredictability hangs over Rugby World Cup with adaptability the key | Robert Kitson
World Cup referees will not ‘lay down a marker’ with reds, says World Rugby
‘My future is fixed’: David de Gea signs new four-year Manchester United deal
Juventus 'ultras' leaders arrested over alleged ticketing racket
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons says attacks on Saudi oil facilities 'may well be the thing that calls for military action against Iran'
Boris the Hulk: could the PM really be the superhero?
Why The Third Man is an essential primer for no-deal Brexit
Maggie Smith's 20 best films – ranked!
Cara Delevingne: Harvey Weinstein Told Me To Hide My Sexuality And 'Get A Beard'
Love Island's Ovie Soko Launches Asos Edit – Our Pick Of The Best Pieces
Family Did Not Know About University Student’s Previous Suicide Attempt
Close