Two missiles launched from a rebel-held territory in Yemen landed uncomfortably close to the USS Mason this weekend, marking the second such launch in recent days.
The Navy has confirmed that no harm was done – either to sailors or ship – during the incident, and Lt. Ian McConnaughey admits that it is unclear whether the USS Mason was targeted.
The ballistic missiles are believed to have been aimed at the King Fahd air base in Taif (near Mecca), a location that often hosts US military personnel.
Yemen’s Shiite rebels (the Houthis) offered no explanation for the missiles, though they appear to be a retaliation following a Saudi-led airstrike on a funeral in Sana’a. The airstrike killed nearly 150 people and wounded more than 500, making it one of the deadliest single attacks of the civil war that erupted in Yemen last year.
The USS Mason was just north of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a common route for oil tankers on their way to Europe through the Suez Canal, at the time of the “attack.” A similar launch occurred in the same area last week, but the Emirati-leased Swift boat that came under fire wasn’t so lucky. The boat, which the UAE classifies as a humanitarian aid vessel, sustained serious damage.
Based on video footage of the attack, Washington analysts believe the Houthis may have targeted the Emirati boat, which the rebels have referred to as a “warship,” with an Iranian anti-shipping cruise missile. Iran has supported the Yemeni rebels in the past, but has denied providing them with weapons.
Editor’s note: This shows how volatile the area is, and how the U.S. could easily be dragged into a war. Iran could easily support insurgent groups to destabilize parts of Saudi Arabia and other countries or just use these surrogates to attack U.S. armed forces.
As a former intelligence officer, part of my mandate was counter-insurgency. In the 1980’s, the Soviet Union used a surrogate strategy all over Latin America and in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The strategies are known, they work, they are devastating. And now with and extra 150 billiion dollars in its pockets, Iran could do the same.