Yemen Could Be the Next Base for Iranian Attacks on Israel

Last night, Houthi rebels in Yemen launched an explosive drone and two ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia. The Houthis—backed by the Islamic Republic and responsible for their country’s bloody civil war—have as their slogan “Death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam,” but they have so far limited themselves to inflicting violence on their fellow Yemenis and the neighboring Saudis. However, write Ari Heistein and Elisha Stoin, there are some easily conceivable scenarios where the Houthis could decide to use their arsenal of drones and missiles against the Jewish state. At present, some of these weapons could reach Israel’s borders, although not very effectively. Yet that too could change:

[T]he central concern in this context is the possibility of a technological leap in the event that the Houthis are provided more advanced ballistic-missile capabilities by Iran—particularly advanced Shihab missiles that have considerably longer ranges and would be capable of reaching Israel from Yemen. This technology is readily available for Iranian forces, particularly through the Shihab-3 missile in its medium-range version.

[Moreover], it is also possible that in the future the Houthis will permit Iran’s . . . forces to launch advanced Iranian cruise missiles, drones, or ballistic missiles from Yemeni territory. This could occur in a scenario in which Tehran seeks to strike Israel while distancing itself from the attack and minimizing potential blowback.

Also, in 2020-2021, in what is likely an effort to demonstrate their commitment to the Palestinian cause, the Houthis have sought to gain the release of Hamas prisoners from Saudi jails in exchange for the release of Saudi airmen captured by the Houthis over the course of the Saudi campaign in Yemen. Once again, the Houthis appear to be using their limited resources in a manner that prioritizes a regional rather than a local agenda.

Even without direct hostilities between Israel and the Houthis, developments in the Yemeni civil war could affect Israel negatively. The theater serves as a testing ground of sorts for Iranian weapon systems, in particular their use against Western platforms. The rapid pace of improvement in Houthi capabilities, from amateurishly using rocket-propelled grenades in 2010 to using precision-guided missiles for well-coordinated assassination attempts in 2020, indicates a learning process that could create knowledge that is then (directly or indirectly) disseminated among other [members of Iran’s network of proxies], including Hizballah and Hamas.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Hamas, Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Yemen


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy