Tensions in the Middle East keep rising ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20th. After Israel hit deep into Syrian territory last Tuesday night, it is now Iran’s move in this high stakes game of chess.
To show Israel that it is not messing around and letting attacks on its bases in Syria to go unanswered, the regime in Tehran has decided to hand the Houthis in Yemen suicide drones.
Newsweek has reported that “imagery seen by Newsweek and confirmed by an expert who follows Iranian activities in the region indicate the presence of Iranian Shahed-136 loitering munitions, also called ‘suicide drones,’ deployed to the northern Yemeni province of Al-Jawf, an area of the country controlled by the Ansar Allah, or Houthi, Zaidi Shiite Muslim rebel movement.”
The Shahed-136 has a range of 2,200 km (1,367 miles), which puts Israel in range.
Iran putting its chips in Yemen makes sense. The country is out of range for Israel and is buttressed to the South across the strait of Bab al-Mandab by Djibouti, where a Chinese base is situated. To the North of Yemen is Oman, friendly to Israel, but sworn to neutrality by the regime in Tehran.
With this in mind, the destruction of the suicide drones cannot be done by Israel by air but rather must be entrust by the new UN backed unity government in Yemen or the Saudis who will also face their wrath if the drones are left unchecked. The challenge for Israel, is that neither of these options are good ones.
The only other option is for Israel to send in special forces to locate the drones and destroy them. This is a tall order given the chaos and mayhem that currently exists in Yemen. The Mossad and other elite military forces Israel has are excellent at penetrating societies that have some sort of order to them as we have seen in Iran. However, Yemen is a country in name only at this point, having shed a defined societal structure due to civil war and external actions by the Saudis and Iranians, making it complicated for Israel to act in.
With days to go until the Biden team takes over, President Trump may be forced to deal with Iran’s suicide drones using the US military. If not, he risks letting the whole region explode.