In what should be taken as perhaps the greatest indicator thus far that the US and Saudis don’t actually have proof Iran was behind the Sept. 14 drone and missile attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities, the WSJ reports investigators are still searching for “smoking gun” evidence backing the allegations.
Per the WSJ, the focus of weapons experts leading the investigation remains the GPS systems on the projectiles themselves, some of which may or may not be in varying degrees of being intact, if photos of the debris displayed at a Saudi Defense Ministry briefing last week are any indicator.
As to just how “certain” American intelligence agencies are regarding the continuing who dunnit? saga, this line from the report is deeply revealing: “They say they can’t galvanize world support for their view unless they can draw a clear link back to Tehran, which has denied any role in the attacks.”
Again, it’s the clearest indicator yet that the very early – within 48 hours of the attacks – finger pointing at Tehran especially by Pompeo was fundamentally politically driven, (as we’ve commented before) was but a continuation of the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign on Tehran.
Meanwhile Yemen’s Houthis haven’t changed their tune, insistently sticking by their claim of responsibility for the sophisticated twin attacks; however, days ago offering a ceasefire and potential peace deal.
Concerning the examination of projectiles involved, which temporarily knocked out up to half of the kingdom’s daily oil production within the days after, the WSJ reports:
The GPS systems could allow investigators to trace the drones and missiles back to their runways and launchers, which Saudi and American officials believe were in Iran. Inspectors from around the world — including the U.S., France and the United Nations — are scrutinizing pieces of the weapons from the attacks, which temporarily knocked out half of Saudi oil production and rattled the global economy.
There’s also the possibility of retaining serial numbers from the weapons systems used in the Aramco attacks, the report continues, though concerning the possibility of tracing them straight back to the IRGC, we doubt the Iranians would be quite that sloppy.
The report continues:
The GPS examination is part of a more expansive investigation that includes efforts to trace serial numbers of the weapons used in the attacks back to their origin. The probe is going forward as Washington and Riyadh weigh a response to the attack.
If only such sincere multi-national efforts were made regarding advanced weaponry in the hands of ISIS recovered from the Syrian and Iraqi battlefields.
Regardless, at this point it’s clear President Trump desires to avoid major war at all cost, something the Iranians have assured will happen even if there’s so much as a “limited” US one-off strike.
So the question remains, assuming forensic investigation of the weapons involved can in fact link the attacks to Tehran, what is the White House ready to do about it? Time will tell.