Iran, Iraq, Yemen? Act of War? Note to Reuters, Factual Error

This is a time to get the facts straight.

(Reuters) Attack on Saudi oil facility came from direction of Iran, not Yemen: U.S. official. Quoting,

The U.S. official, who asked not to be named, said there were 19 points of impact in the attack on Saudi facilities and that evidence showed the launch area was west-northwest of the targets – the direction of Iran – not south from Yemen.

However, the map bearing of Iran from Abqaiq GOSP 5 to the westernmost Iran border is 347 degrees. So if the attack originated in Iran, it would be more correct to give the direction as almost due NORTH. On the other hand, southwestern Iraq is west-north-west of Abqaiq. One way or the other, Reuters has it wrong, the wrong country or the wrong direction.

Regardless of the launch point, Yemen, Iraq, or Iran, I’m easily persuaded that Iran is responsible. The forensics must be daunting, because the drone or cruise missile debris was incinerated by the intense petroleum fires. If just one had failed to make the target, there would be more substantial indicators.

The details of Iranian innovation in drone guidance are not available to open source, because of the sensitivity of HUMINT. If we assume radio control,  the maximum control distance has been publicly stated by Iran for some drones. If the limit is 210 miles (?), this becomes the strongest indication for Iranian launch and control. It’s only 191 miles from the Iran coast to Abqaiq GOSP 5, the shortest distance of the three countries. It is mostly over water, which improves the range.

Quoting from US official: Iran has moved missiles to Persian Gulf,

Is there something more we can tease out of open source? A template based on the recent past gives insight into Iranian tactics, which emphasize surprise, asymmetry, and deniability. Against the background of comparatively moderate posturing by the secular government, attacks against U.S. forces have occurred in a deniable manner.

Whether the attack is regarded as an act of war is the option of the injured party. Iran has considerately made another deniable attack.

So we could just look the other way.

 

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