Are We Sure It Was Al Qaeda?
There has been a lot of press about the bombing of the Abqaiq oil facility, and most of it points the finger at Al Qaeda as being the culprit. This blaiming effort is being helped by 'a local branch of Al-Qaeda' declaring war on Saudi oil.
I'm not convinced.
For one reason, Al Qaeda has become the Emmanuel Goldstein of the modern world. Everything that happens in certain places and in certain ways is automatically attributed to them. Thus, whenever anyone makes the claim that they are a part of Al Qaeda, it is believed without question.
Also, the scapegoating of Al Qaeda (even if they deserve it) ignores others that might have a motive, the means, and the opportunity to strike a long-term hated enemy.
I'd like to present my take on this last point.
Just the other day, one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest shrines, the Golden Mosque in Samarra, was bombed. Iraq is supposedly under the protection of the United States, whose presence in Iraq could not have happened without the overt financial and political support of the Saudis. The Saudis pride themselves on being the defenders and caretakers of the ultimate Muslim shrines, Mecca and Medina. There has been long-standing, religious-based feuds between the Saudi Sunnis and the Iranian Shi'a, and can we discount that there isn't a sectarian 'pride' that has been wounded? Now that one of the Shi'a shrines has been attacked, the desire to 'get something back' has to be strong.
But attacking an Islamic shrine is not something that would be taken lightly. Imagine Oral Roberts attacking St. Peter's: even if he wanted to do so, he wouldn't dare.
So it is with the Shi'a, centered in Iran. They won't harm their own religious shrines, but they would damage the hated retakers of those shrines - especially as the list of grievances between them is so long.
Thus the attack on the base of support for those caretakers.
If such an attack really was Al Qaeda, I believe that it would not have been conducted in such a Keystone Kops manner. It would have succeeded in damaging Saudi oil. Just research the numerous attacks in Iraq if you want proof.
The Iranians, on the other hand, are fairly new to this, having not fought in a war since the fight with Saddam ended. The sort of tactics displayed in this attack aren't as familiar to them as they would be to Al Qaeda because they didn't have a use for them in that war. Thus, they would be feeling their way into competence.
I have no doubt that now Iran has its back to the wall, anyone assisting those who are planning the coming assault against Iran will be seen as fair game. Saudi facilities will continue to be targets. And as experience is gained, successes will follow.
And maybe then, the Iranians will want to take the credit.