Bill and Behnam discuss reports of Iran sending ballistic missiles to Russia and the potential for subsequent U.S. sanctions on Tehran (and why that’d be insufficient); why the head of the IRGC Quds Force allegedly paid a recent visit to Iraq; an update on the Houthi-Gulf of Aden-Bab al Mandeb-Red Sea theater, including a new underwater drone threat and why if we happen to see the Iranians “de-escalate” in one theater it’s because they’re preparing to escalate in another (and not because they’ve been “deterred”).
Israel targeted two high-ranking Hezbollah commanders in an airstrike in Nabatieh. While the details and outcome remain uncertain, the location of the strike and nature of the targets suggest Israel’s patience is wearing thing with Hezbollah’s ongoing attacks.
Saraya al-Ashtar, a U.S. designated terrorist organization, and Saraya Wa’ad Allah send their condolences and congratulations to the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades.
Al Qaeda continues to build its network and infrastructure in Afghanistan after the fall of the Afghan government. Al Qaeda opened eight new training camps, five madrasas, a weapons depot and safe houses in Afghanistan that are used to facilitate the movement of its members to and from Iran.
Despite the incessant attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthis and Iranian proxy militias in Iraq and Syria, the Biden administration continues to insist it is not at war with Iran.
Israel revealed the existence of Hezbollah’s airstrip back in September. Information available at the time indicated Hezbollah would use it to launch drones to attack Israel. When the group did so last Wednesday, Israel bombed the airstrip.
While ISKP claimed responsibility for the Kerman twin suicide bombings, Iranian state media and officials are downplaying the Afghanistan connection and are instead pointing fingers at Israel. Despite internal crackdowns and heightened security measures, Iran treads carefully to avoid straining relations with the Taliban amid escalating tensions in the region.
President Biden blamed Iranian-backed militias for killing three US service members and injuring others following a drone attack on a base in Jordan.
The Houthis targeted the USS Carney, struck a British petroleum tanker, and forced two merchant marine vessels to turn away from the Bab Al Mandeb Strait.
U.S. forces hit “headquarters, storage, and training locations for rocket, missile, and one-way attack UAV capabilities,” according to CENTCOM. The strike is the eight against the Iranian-backed militias, which have hit U.S. bases more than 150 times since Hamas attacks Israel in October 2023.
The U.S. and U.K., backed by just four other countries, renewed attacks on Houthi military targets. The paucity of countries willing to confront the Houthis, and thus Iran, highlights the difficulty the Biden administration has had in assembling an international coalition to restore calm to the vital shipping lanes.
The attacks against Houthi missiles are no longer being conducted under the aegis of an international coalition, but directly by the U.S. military.
An airstrike in the Syrian capital of Damascus killed five IRGC military advisors, including General Sadegh Omidzadeh. The strike is the second against Iranian advisors in Syria in the past four weeks.
As the Houthis defy the international coalition thatis struggling to keep the Red Sea open to commercial shipping, the Iranians launched a ballistic missile strike on what it claimed was Israeli intelligence assets in Irbil, Iraq.
The Houthis have launched three strikes, including one against a U.S. warship, since the U.S. and U.K. attacked Houthi military targets on Jan. 11 in an effort to restore deterrence. The Houthis have not been deterred.
Bill and Behnam unpack the details they’ve been able to gather so far surrounding the U.S. and UK-led coalition strikes against Houthi targets inside Yemen and discuss whether this will restore deterrence. Accurate preview courtesy of Behnam: “We like to say ‘freaky Fridays’ here [we do not] — it can’t get freakier than the first-ever, historic use of force since October 7 by the U.S. and UK against the Houthis.”
After nearly two months and 27 Houthi strikes against merchant vessels and U.S., British and French warships, the U.S. and United Kingdom launched a series of attacks against Houthis military sites.
One week after threatening the Iranian-backed Houthis for targeting international shipping, the U.S. led coalition has failed to back up its words with deeds. Houthi attacks continue unabated.
Bill and Behnam unpack this week’s headlines from the Middle East, including the assassination of Hamas deputy Saleh al-Arouri; the U.S. strike that killed Iran-backed militia commander Abu Taqwa Al-Saedi in Iraq (and subsequent drama with the Iraqi government); the U.S.-led coalition dubbed Prosperity Guardian’s “final warning” to the Houthis; and the ISIS bombings at a memorial in Kerman, Iran for slain IRGC-QF commander Qassim Suleimani.
Today’s strike is the first to target a commander of the Iranian-backed militias. Abu Taqwa Al Si’adi was a commander in the Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba, a U.S.-designated terror organization.
The Houthi attacks “constitute a significant international problem that demands collective action.” The Houthis said that the attacks will continue.
Salih al-Aruri is the first major Hamas political or military leader killed since Hamas and its terrorist allies launched the Oct. 7 rampage on southern Israel.
Four members of Lebanese Hezbollah, and two members of Iraqi militia groups have been killed by airstrikes in Eastern Syria.
A network of Iraqi militias backed by Iran have claimed responsibility for attacking Israeli territory.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani also denounced militia attacks on U.S. forces, however he is powerless to stop them. The Iranian-backed militias report to Sudani, but do not follow his orders. They are loyal to Iran.
Iran has described Razi Mousavi as “a veteran advisor of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps” and a one of “the companions of the assassinated general Qassem Soleimani.”
The U.S. hit three Hezbollah Brigades facilities after three U.S. soldiers were wounded, including one critically, in a drone strike at a U.S. airbase in Erbil. the handful of U.S. strikes has not deterred the militias or their Iranian masters.
Bill is joined by CDR Salamander to discuss the coalition announced today by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during his trip to the Middle East. The coalition — made up of the UK, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain in partnership with the US — was formed with the objective of “ensuring freedom of navigation in the Red Sea” following the recent uptick in Houthi aggression and attacks in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden area.
The U.S. announces the formation of Operation Prosperity Guardian as Houthi attacks have ground international shipping transiting the Red Sea through the Suez Canal to a halt as multiple shippers are now bypassing the dangerous waterway. It is unclear if the operation will be offensive or defensive in nature.
Hezbollah attacks against Israel increased, including one on December 16 in which an IDF soldier was killed. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived in Israel on December 18 for meetings with Israeli leaders as the IDF continued operations in northern and southern Gaza. The Iranian-backed Houthis targeted more ships in the Red Sea while shipping companies have begun to pause shipping through the strategic waterway.