USS Mason credit:

USS Mason

On October 14, I posted Prepare To Return Fire! Someday… Maybe… If It’s OK With Barack…, an article that reported on no less than three separate attacks against US warships by missiles fired by the Houthi in Yemen. Fortunately, all missiles either missed or were shot down by the ship’s anti-missile defense systems. However, any such attack is, by any interpretation of international law or common sense, an act of war. The Houthi are mere proxies for the Iranians, who are their sponsors, bosses, and suppliers of their more sophisticated weapons, such as anti-ship missiles.

With the election looming, we tend to forget about such things, but there are a great many places in the world where war could break out at any moment, and our people are still out there with targets painted on their backs and rules of engagement preventing them from protecting themselves as well as they should.

There can be no doubt the Iranians were directly involved in these three attacks. Not only would it have been necessary for them to supply the advanced weapons used, it would have been necessary for them to provide the technical expertise necessary to maintain, prepare, and fire the missiles. The Houthi simply lack those abilities and knowledge. The missiles would not have been fired without their permission.

In response to the first two attacks, nothing was done until a week later. Our warships are obviously not allowed to do more than try to stop attacks already in progress. They cannot shoot back. Mr. Obama allowed our Navy to destroy three of the radar units that provided targeting data for the attacks. Obviously we did not get all of the radars, or the Iranians quickly brought in new equipment. Nothing at all has been done—at least not to public knowledge—about the third attack, as I wrote:

This attack has been confirmed by numerous sources. I’m sure Mr. Obama will get around to responding, but he’s very busy these days, and has far more important things to do other than respond to Iranian acts of war.  One of these times, the Iranians are going to get lucky…

Thus far, the Iranians have not been lucky, but their harassment and surveillance efforts are steadily increasing, as is their anti-American rhetoric. The AEI reports on the incidents in an article titled Iranian involvement in missile attacks on the USS Mason: 

USS Mason credit:

USS Mason

Iran almost certainly played a role in the missile attacks against the “USS Mason near the Bab al Mandab Strait on October 9 and October 12. Senior U.S. administration officials asserted with ‘great confidence’ that al Houthi forces were ‘unquestionably involved’ in the missile strikes.[1] U.S. officials have not identified the operatives directly responsible for targeting the U.S. warship or the origin of the weapons used in the attack. Iran likely supplied the missiles and, at the very least, Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) or Lebanese Hezbollah operatives provided technical expertise and modifications in support of those who launched the attack. Iran or its proxy, Lebanese Hezbollah, may have also played a direct role in planning and conducting the attack.

What? The Iranians, who chant “death to America” daily, who kidnap our citizens and demand ransom, who are building nuclear weapons (forget that idiotic Obama “deal”—they have) and have sworn to use them against Israel and us, couldn’t possibly be involved in an act of War against America, could they? Well, they did declare war on us in 1979 and have been carrying it out since, but what’s a little war among supposed friends?

The al Houthi-Saleh faction does not benefit from the deliberate targeting of U.S. Navy vessels, which would draw the U.S. further into the Yemeni civil war on the side of the Saudi-led coalition. Al Houthi-Saleh leaders have denied repeatedly responsibility for the USS Mason attacks in contrast with their rapid claim to have attacked the Emirati HSV-2 Swift on October 1.[2] They have also taken steps to de-escalate tensions with the United States. Al Houthi-Saleh leaders released two Americans detained in Yemen to Oman on October 15.[3] They also agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire and to return to political negotiations to resolve the civil war, steps U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has advocated.[4]

Hey, we all know that every terrorist group in the Middle East is entirely trustworthy, right?

Attacking U.S. Navy vessels does serve Iran’s broader strategic objectives of countering U.S. and Saudi presence in the region, however. Iran has a clear interest in creating and signaling its deterrent capabilities off the Yemeni coast as part of its larger effort to increase the risk to U.S. maritime operations in the region. Iran has recently escalated the harassment of U.S. Navy vessels and senior regime officials have publicly called upon the U.S. to ‘end its presence” in the Persian Gulf. [5]

Wait a minute! Wasn’t it Barack Obama that is working diligently with John Kerry to make Iran the most powerful nation in the region? Why yes, it is! But isn’t that what the Iranians, evil Jihadists that want to rule the world, want? Why yes, it is!

USS Mason credit: coastguardcompass

USS Mason
credit: coastguardcompass

The following questions explore the nature and intent of Iran’s support for the al Houthi-Saleh faction, as well as the regional context, defined by conflict with Saudi Arabia and the West, in which Iran operates.

Was Iran involved in the missile attacks against the USS Mason?

Yes. IRGC-QF or Lebanese Hezbollah operatives almost certainly played a role in supporting and possibly conducting the missile attacks.

  • Iran likely supplied the missiles fired at the USS Mason, although the exact missile type used against the USS Mason has not yet been confirmed. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain stated on October 13 that Iran likely provided the missiles used in the attacks.[6] Iran probably would have supplied C-802 Noor anti-ship cruise missiles, an Iranian variant of the Chinese Silkworm that Iran has provided Hezbollah in the past.[7] Iran has provided the al Houthi-Saleh faction with missiles before, including missiles used in cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia, according to Secretary of State John Kerry and State Department Spokesman John Kirby.[8] Alternately, the attackers may have repurposed C-801 anti-ship cruise missiles from Yemen’s pre-war arsenal.[9]
  • Iran or its proxy Lebanese Hezbollah almost certainly provided training, technical, or targeting support to the forces that conducted the attacks, even if the missiles originated from Yemen’s pre-war arsenal. The ground-based radar systems reportedly used in the attacks require sophisticated technical expertise, which al Houthi-Saleh forces would unlikely possess on their own.[10] Even if the al Houthi-Saleh forces were able to fire the older C-801s that were originally installed on Yemeni missile boats, the use of ground-based radar systems in the attacks against the USS Mason would indicate technical support from Iran or Hezbollah.

Iranian or Hezbollah operatives operating in Yemen may have been directly involved in conducting the attacks. The effects that attacks against U.S. Navy vessels generate advance Iranian interests in the regions. The al Houthi movement is not an Iranian proxy and does not respond to Iranian directives, making it less likely that Tehran ordered an attack and the al Houthi-Saleh faction carried it out. Al Houthi-Saleh leaders’ reactions to the attack—the denial of responsibility and steps to de-escalate tensions—could be taken as indicators that the leadership did not support attacks against the U.S. There is an additional possibility that a hardline al Houthi faction conducted the attacks with top-level technical support independent from al Houthi-Saleh or Iranian orders. In this case, the attacks may have been intended as a bid for additional Iranian support.

I’ll take exception with the authors in one respect: It was once a article of faith–for instance–that Sunnis and Shiites would never work together, therefore there could be no connection between them. As we now know, this was a false assumption. It is entirely possible Iran and the Houthi are intimately involved, at least in these attacks against our warships. And to be fair, they do not entirely discount the possibility.

But we’re still left with ridiculous rules of engagement, courtesy of Barack Obama, that leave our Navy unable to respond to attacks, which ROEs have plagued our military for years, not only endangering the lives of our people, in many instances causing their deaths.

Stay tuned for the next missile launch, and hope we’re better than the terrorists are lucky.