Iran’s Allies Escalate in Yemen, Threatening International Shipping Routes

Last week, in response to attacks on an American naval vessel, the U.S destroyed three coastal radar installations used by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia. An earlier missile strike by the same militia was directed at ships of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a member of the Saudi-led and U.S.-supported anti-Houthi coalition. Despite the U.S. response, the Houthis have continued to fire at American ships. Michael Segall explains the significance of this conflict:

The firing of guided shore-to-sea missiles at U.S. and UAE ships constitutes an escalation in the Yemeni conflict and could pose a threat to a key international sea lane in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The ability to fire guided missiles, along with their long-range (120 km), endangers not only the [Saudi-led] coalition’s freedom of action and ability to enforce the Arab embargo [on the Houthis], but also civilian vessels, including tankers that operate in the area.

Iran’s aid to the Houthi rebels has apparently increased. . . . Iran is [evidently now] prepared to provide tie-breaking weapons that could help the Houthis breach the naval blockade that Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners have imposed on Yemen. . . . It [also] appears . . . that, since the Houthis have held their own in the battles, the embargo is ineffective and Iran has [already] found other lanes for transferring weapons. . . .

For Iran, Yemen is a perfect venue for [testing its weaponry and tactics]. Iran is preparing for future engagement with the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf where [it] frequently provokes and sometimes humiliates American naval presence in the area. The Americans’ reaction to launching the missiles against its ships may change the dynamics. Playing the incident down will again play into Iranian propaganda and bolster Iran’s already overconfident and defiant stance.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Naval strategy, Red Sea, U.S. Security, United Arab Emirates, Yemen

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security