Can Saudi Arabia Defend Itself Against Iran?

(BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University) Lt.-Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar - On March 7, missiles and drones struck the Saudi oil-loading facility at Ras Tanura - the largest in the world. The attack was very similar to the one in September 2019, which tied up about half of Saudi Arabia's oil-exporting capacity for weeks. It appears that both attacks were launched from Iraq or perhaps even directly from Iran, although the Houthis took responsibility, even though Yemen is 1,000 km. away. It is likely that Saudi intelligence knows perfectly well who attacked the kingdom and from where, but is choosing not to reveal this information so that they will not have to respond. From a military standpoint, the kingdom is substantially weaker than Iran so they continue to absorb Iranian blows quietly. With all due respect to Saudi Arabia's honored status in Arab and international arenas, any strategic reliance on Riyadh by Israel must be cautious and restrained, taking into account that the kingdom is incapable of defending itself effectively and is afraid to call an enemy by its name even when that enemy attacks it again and again. The writer, a senior research associate at the BESA Center, served for 25 years in IDF military intelligence.

2021-03-18 00:00:00

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