Here’s the most important fact about yesterday’s Yemeni rebel drone attack on the Saudi oil industry: the Trump-Israel-Saudi Arabia Alliance is a disaster, and could trigger a global economic crisis.
The attack, by Houthi rebels, was audacious. They reportedly launched 10 drones, which cost only $15,000 apiece, to attack major Saudi oil facilities, starting “gigantic fires” that sent so much smoke billowing skyward that it was visible from a NASA satellite.
The extent of the damage was not immediately disclosed, but the New York Times warned that “shutting them [the oil facilities] down for more than a few days would affect the global oil supply.” Oil experts are predicting prices will rise when markets open Monday, and such a shock is the last thing that an already fragile world economy needs.
Saudi Arabia’s enormous arms purchases could not protect it from the Yemeni rebel attack. The Saudis last year spent an astonishing $67.6 billion on military equipment, and the shipments continue, despite bipartisan efforts in the U.S. Congress to curtail the arms sales.
The New York Times report was more concerned with the impact on the global oil price than with the human cost of the Saudi-led war against Yemen, which is a root cause of the drone attack. It took the paper 38 paragraphs before it got around to mentioning that the Saudi onslaught has put “millions [of Yemenis] at risk of starvation and millions of others homeless.” The report never did state that at least another 100,000 Yemenis have already died, which is probably a low estimate.
The Trump administration is trying to blame Iran for the attack, with no evidence. What stands out is that the U.S. and Israel have blundered by cozying up to the de facto Saudi leader, the young and unstable Crown Prince Mohammed. Wiser heads in the Kingdom would have by now recognized they can’t win in Yemen and started negotiations, but for now it looks like Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu are still sticking with the volatile Crown Prince — the man who less than a year ago ordered the murder and dismemberment of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
We will wait to see how Prince Mohammed’s other cheerleaders, like NYTimes pundit Thomas Friedman and leading U.S. banks and businessmen, react to this latest crisis.