By Alireza Hashemi

Reuters scraping the barrel implicating Iran in Yemeni drone attacks

September 17, 2019

It appears the western MSM have found a new pretext to further their pro-war line on Iran, this time using a Yemeni drone attack into key Saudi oil installations to bolster the case for confrontation with Iran.

The strike was carried out by 10 unmanned aerial vehicles, who targeted the globe’s largest oil-processing facility in Abqaiq and the kingdom’s second-biggest oil field in Khurais on Saturday.

The attack, slashing about 6 percent of world oil supply, has already rattled the markets, with the kingdom’s benchmark stock index falling as much as 3.1 percent on Saturday in Riyadh.

Yemen’s Houthi forces have taken responsibility for the strike, which came as the latest in a series of assaults against the Saudi economic infrastructure this year.

But the western governments, and the western mainstream media, seem bent on implicating Iran in the case, preparing the ground for deepening their standoff with Iran. 

Change of tack

The Yemeni movement has admitted to launching similar drone and rocket attacks against Riyadh and its allies, some of which have targeted oil pumping stations.

These attacks have so far been widely under-reported by the Saudi-led coalition and the western MSM, perhaps as part of a strategy to save their face and reduce the psychological effect of the attacks.

Notably, several MSM outlets reported as unchallenged facts the UAE denial of the Houthi attacks against Abu Dhabi airport last year.

The same outlets preferred to ignore videos published by Houthis late May documenting the airport attack.

However, the coalition and its western backers have been blaming some of the attacks on Iran in recent months, as Yemeni strikes against Saudi facilities became more frequent and lethal.

And the latest attack on Saudi oil facilities is no exception, despite all the evidence suggesting it was a Yemeni job.

Was it really Iran?

The UN investigators have reported some Houthi drones are likely to have a range of up to 930 miles.

Technically speaking, that puts most of Saudi Arabia in their range, including the Abqaiq plant, which is located some 500 miles from Yemeni soil and has been targeted by Houthis several times in the past.

Yemeni people have every reason to retaliate against Saudi Arabia, as the Saudi-led coalition has been waging a devastating aerial bombing operation in Yemen for over four years as part of a “democracy-promotion” campaign.

The western world has kept mum on the plight of the Yemeni people, and the western media outlets have done their best to veil the truth in Yemen.

Iran has vehemently rejected the accusations, while Iraq has denied media reports claiming its soil was used to launch the drones.

Strikes or Yemeni Strikes?

Yet, U.S. State Secretary Michael Pompeo, who is famous for his hawkish stance on Iran, pointed the finger squarely at Tehran, and for the first time.

The top U.S. diplomat said there was no evidence the attack was launched from Yemen, so the world must join hands to ensure “Iran is held accountable for its aggression”!

Showing exceptional credulity towards Pompeo, many western outlets refused to point to the Yemeni origin of the attacks in their headlines, referring to them by the likes of “Saudi oil attacks” or “drone strikes”.

This is while even some politicians in the U.S. moved to cast doubt on Pompeo’s allegations.

“This is such irresponsible simplification and its how we get into dumb wars,” Democratic Senator Chris Murphy tweeted.

Some public figures have even pointed the US could have many motives to orchestrate such attacks.

The Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom tweeted on Sunday that the incident will have a number of positives for President Donald Trump, as “Saudi will have to increase security supplied by the U.S.” and the “oil prices will rise and the U.S. is now a large exporter of oil”.

According to Dotcom, blaming Iran will allow the U.S. to then “go to war, take control of Iran’s oil which pays for the war.” 

Linguistic gymnastics

But on Sunday Reuters scraped the very bottom of the barrel trying to implicate Iran in the case, resorting to linguistic gymnastics to portray the country as the main culprit.

The title of a major Reuters piece reads, “Iran dismisses U.S. claim it was behind Saudi oil attacks, says ready for war”.

The agency has mixed two separate accounts by Iranian officials and commanders to show Iran is, as the official US narrative says, a “rogue state” bent on world domination that must be stopped. 

The first part of the headline refers to remarks by Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday, but the second part refers to statements by a senior Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commander in a pre-recorded, subtitled interview published on Sunday.

In the talk, the commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, warned that Tehran is fully prepared to retaliate if attacked.

“Everybody should know that all American bases and their vessels in a distance of up to 2,000 kilometers [from Iran] are within the range of our missiles,” he said, in remarks similar to those made by Iranian military commanders once and often amid heightened Iran-US tensions.  

Dozens of references to Iran as well as several references to possible threats against “global energy supplies” could be found in the article, pushing the reader to believe Iran has certainly had something to do with the attacks that endanger global prosperity.  

Reuters also describes Houthi forces as “Iran-backed” or “Iran-aligned”. Can’t one argue the Saudi forces are also “U.S.-backed”, considering the vast U.S. support offered to the kingdom’s expensive war machine?

The agency also frames the Yemen conflict as “a proxy war between rivals Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran”. It is unclear to me how Reuters has reached the conclusion this is a proxy war, considering the quite long history of fights between Yemenis and Saudis. It is also unclear how the agency verdicts the conflict has religious dimensions.

And last but not least, Reuters claims Houthis are “thwarting UN peace efforts” by stepping up missile and drone attacks on Saudi cities. There is no basis for this insinuation, since Yemenis have been calling for a ceasefire since the Saudi intervention started. Framing the problem this way hides the Saudi government’s responsibility for one of the worst kinds of humanitarian catastrophes in recent times.

Selling the Iran war

Other MSM outlets took similar approach to the case, regurgitating the same anti-Iran voices used to try to justify an attack on the country. This is while no Western or Saudi practice is severely condemned in a comparable way.

Bloomberg on Sunday claimed the attack is “set to escalate a showdown pitting Saudi Arabia and the U.S. against Iran, which backs proxy groups from Yemen to Iran to Lebanon”.

Ignoring the fact the informed writers have likely used Iraq in place of Iran, the astute observer can ill afford not to wonder what groups are backed by Iran. Are those groups really “proxy” ones? If yes, have Saudi Arabia and the U.S. not supported “proxy” groups in the region?

The New York Times resortes to anonymous sources to echo anti-Iran claims raised by Israel and its western backers for years.

“Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has been training its militia proxies in the region, from Lebanon to Yemen, in more sophisticated warfare using drones, according to two people in Iran with knowledge of the programs,” the NYT article reads.

Years ago, Noam Chomsky explained that American news coverage operates on the premise that the U.S. “owns the world”.

The MSM treatment of the Saudi oil attacks was yet another manifestation of this claim.

The western governments have long wished to absorb independent countries like Iran, and the MSM have been for years busy selling the Iran war to the public opinion, just like previous western wars in Iraq and Libya.

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