I stumbled on this just now and was compelled to ask myself a question about purely military-strategic and operational matter: if Saudi Arabia really is afraid (I heard it to be the case) of Iran, what security arrangement thus becomes a most sensible one for her? Get this:
WASHINGTON/LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) - As the United States pressed Saudi Arabia to end its oil price war with Russia, President Donald Trump gave Saudi leaders an ultimatum. In an April 2 phone call, Trump told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that unless the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) started cutting oil production, he would be powerless to stop lawmakers from passing legislation to withdraw U.S. troops from the kingdom, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. The threat to upend a 75-year strategic alliance, which has not been previously reported, was central to the U.S. pressure campaign that led to a landmark global deal to slash oil supply as demand collapsed in the coronavirus pandemic - scoring a diplomatic victory for the White House.
It is a very loaded statement which shows both an American oil industry desperation and, simultaneously, extreme limitations, bar some clandestine operation to remove MBS, in measures the United States can take to "motivate" Saudis to dance to the appropriate tune. Considering Saudis' very real fear of Iran and her influence in the region and the fact that US anti-Iranian sanctions have a lot of Saudi "juice" behind them (not just Israeli one) and that Saudi-Iranian "relations" can only be described as Cold War with all "proxies" involved as a result, one has to ask the question, a purely theoretical (I stress this) one: if Iran was forced, could she devastate Saudi oil (and only viable) industry and mount a massive attack on Saudi state institutions? The answer is really simple--if push comes to shove Iran can disrupt with a dramatic effect Saudi oil production and wipe out storage facilities in several salvos of ballistic and cruise missiles and the United States which has Patriot AD complexes in Saudi Arabia will be able to do very little to prevent it. Simple as that. Iran doesn't need, objectively, to "invade" Saudi Arabia to push her over the threshold of economic chaos and, likely, palace coup if not outright revolution.
Here comes this purely operational consideration: apart from the United States being royally pissed with MBS', and Saudis' in general, irrational behavior (nothing unexpected here, plus the US has this propensity to have among her allies a lowest scum of the Earth), the reality is very simple: if US is provoked to attack Iran, first localities which are getting devastated are US bases in the region and Saudi oil fields and storage facilities. Simple as that. What will be the "weight" of those salvos is a matter for pure speculations, what is clear, however, that Iran has enough of them and with a very good guidance packages to conduct a prolonged operation against variety of regional targets with very high effectiveness, that is to say decent rate of "leakers" against the most sophisticated air and anti-missile defenses the United States can deploy. In the end, nobody cancelled good ol' over-saturation method of overcoming any defenses. Do Saudis know about that? I don't know, they, let's be frank here, suck at everything related to operation of modern technology, let alone combat one. But one thing is clear--not only the United States cannot defend Saudis in case of an actual (God forbids) war, but the United States itself, including through Saudi lobbying, which is as prevalent in D.C. as Israeli one (I don't know what is current going rate for US Congressman or Senator on the market, but Saudis do have cash, for now), may unleash such a war which will not only result in US catastrophic losses against Iran, but will see Saudi's oil treasure burned by a variety of means ranging from missile strikes to oil fields sabotage, which inevitably will lead to disintegration of KSA as such.
Hm. Thus the question--a very practical one--who can built a proper and effective air and anti-missile defense for Saudis' main treasure while simultaneously restraining Iran. In the end, he bottom line is always not how you live, however important, but if you live at all. Saudis, certainly, saw how certain country conducts object and area defense operations and how she uses both military and diplomatic power to "calm things down" in the country, to he North, infested with Saudis' very own Al Qaeda and Qatar's very own ISIS. They know how it goes there. But then again, Saudis were in the market for technology which actually works for a while:
Key Point: The Russians have definitely made a breakthrough with sales of weapons to some NATO countries with uncertain futures in the bloc (e.g. Greece, Turkey) and strong US client countries such as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states such as the UAE. Saudi Arabia’s agreement to purchase the S-400 anti-aircraft Triumf anti-missile system from Russia is a major blow to the United States and its European allies. The deal follows Turkey’s $2.5 billion agreement to buy the S-400, and ongoing negotiations with Egypt for the S-400. Egypt already has the S-300VM system (also known as the Antey 2500) which can engage short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, precision guided weapons, strategic and tactical aircraft, as well as early warning and electronic warfare aircraft. (Originally the S-400 was called the S-300 PMU-3.)
So, you get my drift, right? As I say all the time--in matters of life and death nobody cares how shiny things are, everyone needs and wants the only one thing which matter--a thing which saves your life. That begins to explain a funny statements from Saudis few days ago when talking about Russia being "a family" and that close families always settle their quarrels amicably. You know, all kinds of statements of this nature from the highest power levels of Saudi elites. So, in this case, let me go out on a limb here and propose that Saudis may, actually, have been thinking about changing their posse for a while. In the end, Saudis' main enemy in the region, Iran that is, is in a fairly close relations to Russia who does have some influence on Iran. This influence is, if anything else, dramatically in Saudis' favor because Russia not only doesn't want a war in the region, but has enough wherewithal politically, economically and militarily to, indeed, calm things down. Moreover, behind Russia, which is taking Saudi's share of oil market, is rich China, with her global trade plans. So, Saudis, I am sure are thinking deeply now if they have to go out looking for new guns for hire. Especially, since Russia is openly in this business selling the most desirable, most coveted and most valuable product globally--political stability. How Russia does this, you all know, I write about this for years. In this case, Trump's threats of denying Saudi Arabia American "protection" may not be necessarily a bad news for at least some segments of Saudi princes who surely know where their instincts for survival lead them.