There's nothing "unquestionable" about it.

Guilty Until Proven Guilty: The Gaps in the Iran-Saudi-U.S. Narrative

By Briana Augustus

September 18, 2019 - 11:30AM CST - Last updated 3:18PM

This is a developing story. Currently reported facts may change so check back for updates.


It's like putting your own name on a ransom note.

Is it more likely that someone writes their name on their crime, perhaps to thwart an investigation? Or that someone else is trying to frame them? Well, we're talking about Iran. Saudi Arabia. America. Without misleading anyone to a conclusion - the honest question stands: Who truly has the most to gain here?

In the midst of such unprecedented global chaos, I - like so many right now - have so many questions. There are so many alleged answers that the facts many times begin to sound like presumptive truth and reality's truth.

This is also a monumental moment of testing for the freedom of critical thinking and investigative conclusiveness for the individual in today's society. So many headlines read like copy-and-pasted reiterations of manufactured media coverage and it's understandable to settle for the majority word. It's overwhelming to commit to the work of an investigative journalist or attorney in order to understand the inner-workings of what is actually going on today - beyond the one- and three-liner soundbites.

I have not been utterly obsessed with the issue, but I have been unable to stop listening and reading any and all breaking news updates for the past now-forgettable number of hours. But this is a big deal with big repercussions dependent on the winds of change whipping about the fragile framework of today's social, economic and political environment.

For starters, one of the most obvious questions that has occurred to me is:

QUESTION ONE  How can an assault of such grand proportions be planned and carried out against one of Saudi Arabia's chief oil producers, Saudi Aramco, by perpetrators so careless in revealing their identity?

It's so hard for me to believe that a perpetrator careless enough to betray their identity could have the power, skill, ability and resources to carry out such a massive attack. Unless that's the point - to appear incapable and attempt to defy the probability of your guilt. The question stands begging conclusive motivation and solid evidence.

The drones identified as the destructive weapons used in the attack have reportedly been of Iranian origin. Iran was immediately made number one suspect - given the ongoing socioeconomic context of Iran's international relationships, that conclusion leap does not come unexpectedly. While it makes sense to hold them under suspicion, the origin does not undoubtedly indict Iran as the perpetrator of the attack. The line of thinking that followed the revelation of the oil attack seemed to be, 'if it came from there, it must've been them,' which is incomplete logic and simply lacks context. The means to obtain products from anywhere in the world has never been made so possible than by the ever-increasing technologically-powered connectivity of our global community and economy.

A toy marked "Made in China" may lay on the living room floor of a Denver, Colorado, family home - that doesn't mean China put it there.

There are so many 'middle men' involved in the process. From the manufacturers of the toy parts, to the company that puts those manufactured parts together, to the packaging and manufacturing corporations that prepare those toys for commercial sale, to the shipping companies that coordinate the distribution of those toys to retailers - so many things involved and that's not even a complete sentence!

Plainly put: an Iranian-made weapon does not mean Iran launched the weapon. The origin of the weapon alone does not constitute grounds for an 'unquestionable' indictment. Yet Saudi Arabia is joining a US-led maritime coalition, and an international community of global leaders is rather immediately banning together to decide what to do - about Iran. Which is a confusing mission to declare prior to presenting or at least acknowledging the existence and potential possession of any factually damning evidence.

Meanwhile, Saudi Aramco has stated that - in spite of the over 12 hours of out-of-control flames that overtook and helped effectively destroy an estimated 50 percent of the entire nation's oil production output - they will have the oil refineries functional by the end of the monthDo you realize how outrageous that declaration sounds?

The attack occurred the morning of Saturday, September 14th. A far-from-complete investigation has begun and a thorough assessment has yet to occur of the situation and the totality of its implications - yet the oil giant confidently says it can repair damage and resume at full production levels in a mere sixteen days.

Again - an astonishing fact: Saudi Arabia lost 50 percent of its entire nation's oil production (which resulted in a 5 percent decrease in global oil production. And within less than 3 weeks, it expects to restore production levels to 100 percent). That is an intense amount of power and resource.

And Iran, branded as the culprit, is accused of having the power and resources to evade any Saudi satellite detection, military sensor or other warning system capable of foreseeing, much less preventing such a catastrophic loss of global resources. With such high stakes and volatile consequences on the table - that is a difficult conclusion to grapple with given the existing data available to media and the public. Let me be clear - it is all possible. But possibility, and even probability, require factual basis, and the hunger for fact is being left malnourished in the early wake of these events.

That claim, mind you, came before unconfirmed debris from the attack was recovered by the Saudi government on September 18th. When pressed at the press conference to confirm the source of the debris, Saudi Arabia reportedly shied away from identifying Iran as the perpetrator of the attack. In the meantime, rumor continues to be spread across Breaking News headline ticker tape as fact, and that is bothersome.

Guilty until proven guilty.

QUESTION TWO  Sticky political fingers have been quickly poised to damn Iran. Understandably so - but can we get a decent investigation underway first?

So the Yemen rebel group of Houthis are claiming the attack... It's not necessarily uncommon for rebel or terrorist groups to falsely claim responsibility for attacks, but spotlighting the location of two potential launch pads as incapable of the attack - that simply can't be the only exoneration of any responsibility or ties to the attackers. Don't get me wrong - the feasibility is questionable. The fact is that everything is questionable at this point.

One of the main reasons this occurred to me is because it's been rather difficult to find balanced information attesting to who all could be the blame for the Saudi oil attack. Al Jazeera news is the first place I found data concerning Yemen's Houthis claiming responsibility. I heard no mention of this initial claim on prime time news - all I heard was 'Iran'. Prime time news network programming is the opportunity for American news media to share the large impact events and details with the majority of Americans - yet it's the side shows and what I'd call "small print coverage" that reveal the entire narrative. Learning the whole story seems to be a non-mainstream luxury for the insiders and devoted information seekers. Information is unfortunately a luxury. And it is one that cannot be afforded by the everyday American whose faith is left subject to a singular narrative being driven full throttle into their homes.

Anybody else remember October 2, 2018?

QUESTION THREE  Remember less than a year ago - when Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud was confidently found guilty by UN investigators of ordering the murder of controversial Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

On October 2, 2018, the known critic of Saudi Arabia's government entered a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey - reportedly to get paperwork for his upcoming wedding to fiancée Hatice Cengiz - and was never seen again. Even after his death was confirmed, his body was not produced and a mysterious shadow of doubt and unquestionable corruption has been cast over the entire incident - and seemingly without any international accountability. Long-standing Middle Eastern ally or not, a breach in morality and ethics is nonetheless a violation that deserves justice.
As the video footage was replayed across media outlets - politicians, news media and particularly political media pressures were pushing for President Donald Trump to condemn the Saudi Crown Prince for the murder of this American journalist. This doesn't seem like a far-fetched request, but upon Trump's support of the Saudi Crown Prince's innocence, the story had an odd and subtle fade from the public eye.

And now here we are - less than a year later:

President Trump and the Saudi government have found renewed circumstances and a potentially more viable context in which to form an alliance against common foes in the Middle East.

It's been what I'd call a "locked-and-loaded-cock-and-bull" standoff.

Saudi Arabia is not just potentially hooking up with the U.S. against Iran because the U.S. has been threatening Iran for what feels like a forever-ongoing "locked-and-loaded-cock-and-bull" standoff. Saudi Arabia has its own bone to pick with Iran. Check back for further information and additional stories as I continue to provide coverage and analysis.

It's a lot to delve into and even more to take in. There are a lot of questions being asked right now and a lot of answers being given - the fact of the matter is that the truth of the matter is a necessity, regardless of how ugly or destructive. The state of domestic, international and global relations has already seen ugly and destructive. No matter the amount of faith you do or do not have in the flood of information constantly bombarding you - know that there is nothing "unquestionable" about about it.


Sources: See hyperlinks in article for sources.

Thank you for reading. Please check back as this story develops.

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