Should the U.S. launch a Mideast attack, the Islamist Hezbollah has threatened, its “23,000 … martyrdom-seeking forces” are prepared to fight back by attacking Saudi Arabia and western oil interests in the region.
Sheikh Wathiq al-Battat, the secretary-general of the Shi’ite Hezbollah in Iraq, has warned that his Jaysh al-Mukhtar army will target oil installations and ports in predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia if the U.S. attacks Syria or, by implication, should there be an attack on Iran, as U.S. President Barack Obama has threatened to do.
Al-Battat, whose al-Mukhtar army is an offshoot of the Lebanese Hezbollah, said that he would target Saudi Arabia’s oil installations in the Saudi Arabia’s Shi’a-controlled eastern province and at selected ports, including the ports of Abqaiq, Juaymah and Ras Tanura, one of the largest in the world, according to sources.
The attacks in Saudi Arabia also would include oil and natural gas pipelines, power lines and communication towers.
The attacks, al-Battat said, would be aimed at harming the West’s economy by stopping the flow of crude oil to western countries.
“We will cut the West’s economic artery in Saudi Arabia by attacking Saudi ports and oil installations,” al-Battat told the Iranian news agency, Farsnews.
He also said that Syria will be the beginning of the end of Saudi Arabia, since the Saudi monarchy is “the main party which has encouraged and masterminded war plans against Syria.”
In that regard, al-Battat pointed to Saudi support for Islamist militant foreign fighters from various Central Asian, Middle East and North African countries, ostensibly under the direction of the former Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
Al-Battat’s warning also comes following a reported secret meeting that took place in early August between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bandar in Moscow.
At the meeting, which the Russian Embassy in Washington wouldn’t deny to WND had occurred, even though it was supposed to be secret, Bandar said he controlled the switch of the foreign fighters not only Syria, but also the Islamist militants fighting in predominantly Muslim provinces in southern Russia.
The Saudi prince also said that he could guarantee the protection of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, against attacks from the Islamist militants.
Sochi is located near the provinces that the Islamist militants want to separate from Russia and turn into a Caucasus Emirates.
Bandar reportedly admitted that the North Caucasus militants had moved into Syria in cooperation with the Saudis.
“We use them in the face of the Syrian regime, and we can guarantee that they won’t have any role or influence in the political future of Syria,” Bandar told Putin.
“We know that you have been supporting these terrorist Chechen groups for more than a decade,” an irate Putin told Bandar.
If Putin would switch his support for Syria and Iran, Bandar promised Putin a major oil deal including the prospect that Russia and Saudi Arabia basically would control world oil pricing.
Putin reportedly was livid over the meeting, and subsequent reports, although unconfirmed, said that if the U.S. attacked Syria, Russia would attack Saudi Arabia.
Al-Battat’s warning comes as the U.S. and Russia are in the midst of negotiations to get Syria to turn over its chemical weapons to international inspection.
At the same time, the Obama administration said the military option remains on the table in using U.S. military force to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons capability.
Critics of the administration have stated that the lack of military action now will only embolden other countries with chemical and biological weapons to use them without fear of military reprisal.
Critics also believe it will signal to Iran that there will be no consequence beyond sanctions over its continued nuclear development program.
The U.S., Israel and other western countries believe Tehran’s nuclear enrichment program is meant to develop nuclear weapons, although the Iranians have vehemently denied the charge.
As a consequence, Obama on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” said that the U.S. still is prepared to act militarily to halt Iran’s nuclear program. This latest threat comes despite efforts to pursue a diplomatic solution over Syria instead of a military strike over its alleged use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21 that killed a reported 1,429 Syrians, including some 400 children, by one count.
The foreign-backed Syrian opposition forces accused the Syrian government of launching that chemical attack. Damascus, however, has vehemently denied the accusation, saying the attack was carried out by the militants inside their controlled area on the outskirts of Damascus as a false flag operation – an attack designed to push the U.S. and the West to take military action.
“I think what the Iranians understand is that the nuclear issue is a far larger issue for us than the chemical weapons issue, that the threat against Israel that a nuclear Iran poses is much closer to our core interests,” Obama said. “My suspicion is that the Iranians recognize they shouldn’t draw a lesson that we haven’t struck Syria to think we won’t strike Iran.”
If the U.S. were to launch a military strike against Syria or, by implication, Iran, al-Battat said that he would unleash his group of “23,000 fully trained and equipped martyrdom-seeking forces, who can blow up the U.S. interests in Iraq and the Persian Gulf at any time if the U.S. commits such a stupid act.”
Al-Battat has close links to Iran and claims to be “ideologically bound to the authority of the fiqh,” or a backer of the Iranian regime, which is guided by the Qur’an and Shari’ah law.
F. Michael Maloof, senior staff writer for the WND/ G2Bulletin, is a former security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He can be contacted at [email protected].