The Dangers of Iran’s Drone Diplomacy

Tehran’s decision to provide its allies in Moscow with military drones, along with missiles, has called international attention to its penchant for exporting such technologies. Although these weapons are likely to have little strategic impact on the war in Ukraine, argues Alex Grinberg, they have already shown that they can cause much suffering. They can also do much damage elsewhere:

Iran has supplied drones to its loyalists across the Middle East, including Hizballah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Gaza, and pro-Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq. Venezuela also assembles Iranian drones, and more recently news about Iranian drone supply to the Polisario Front in Algeria has been triggering concern about stability in North Africa.

An example of “made-in-Iran” regional destabilization in the past five years includes the use of Iran-orchestrated attack drones by Yemeni Houthi rebels against the coalition led by Saudi Arabia. The Houthis launched a series of attacks on March 23, 2017, crashing unarmed, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into the coalition’s Patriot surface-to-air missile-defense system. Since then, they have deployed several Iran-made UAVs with explosive payloads over greater distances. On September 14, 2019, the Houthis used Iranian drones to attack oil processing facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais in Saudi Arabia, better known as the Aramco attacks.

The IDF reported that Iran attempted to dispatch firearms and ammunition to Gaza with a drone. . . . Other destabilizing actors in the region who historically were recipients of Russian arms now increasingly show interest in Iranian drone supply.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Algeria, Hamas, Hizballah, Iran, War in Ukraine


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