It is sounding more and more likely–still not publicly confirmed–that Saturday’s attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure might have originated in Iraq–and not Yemen or Iran. Middle East Eye is quoting an unnamed Iraqi intelligence official that this attack was in retaliation for Saudi funded, Israeli launched attacks on Iraqi militias. This lends credence to the entire notion of the proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Saudi’s have been fighting the Houthis in Yemen since approximately 2015–one of the most under-reported wars that continues to the present day. Iran has been an avid supporter of the Houthis and, indeed, the Houthis have conducted some long range missile strikes at Saudi Arabia over the past couple of years.
Iran has also been a longtime supporter of Hezbollah in Lebanon and, quite recently, of the Iraqi Shia militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). Hezbollah’s confrontation with Israel has been on-going for many years. Iran’s support for the PMF is a relatively recent endeavor, though entirely within the vein of Hezbollah and the Houthis. Indeed, throughout the region, Iran’s modus operandi has been to work asymmetrically through these proxies whenever military action has been called for.
Which brings us to the attacks on Saudi Arabia. Four months ago, May 14th, the Saudi’s were hit with a drone attack–this one on Aramco’s east-west pipeline near the central Saudi town of al-Duwadimi. As with Saturday’s attack, the Houthis claimed responsibility. However, in the May attack, reports are that this attack may very well have originated in Iraq, thereby implicating Iranian backed PMF Shia militias.
The map above, from Middle East Eye, shows a possibly route for Saturday’s attack, which bears a remarkable resemblance to the May attack–right down to the Houthis claiming responsibility. However, as Middle East Eye is reporting, Saturday’s attack is in retaliation for Saudi’s support, even coordination, of Israeli attacks on Iranian bases in Iraq and Syria. If this is the case, we may soon see an end to this “proxy war” and an outright confrontation between the major antagonists.