Gulf states fear more attacks from Houthi rebels

27 January 2021

Israel – Some unnamed Gulf States are trying to persuade the U.S to urgently deploy the Israeli-developed Iron Dome air defence systems to protect their sensitive sites. 

Israel has approved the urgent deployment request, which comes after Saudi Arabia and the UAE began to evaluate the possible purchase of the Iron Dome air defence system.

Recently Rafael, the Israeli company that developed the Iron Dome, delivered the second battery to the U.S army. 

This flurry of activity is based on the fear of more attacks by Houthi rebels, Iran's proxy in the region.

According to Israeli sources, Washington has been informed about this request, while pointing to the failure of the Saudi air defense systems to foil a major attack on the Saudi Arabia oil facilities.

On 14 September 2019, different types of drones and missiles were used to attack the State-owned Saudi Aramco oil processing facilities. The attack was initiated by Houthi rebels in Yemen, operating under direct orders from Teheran.

Israeli sources say that the recent U.S. withdrawal of its Patriot anti-missile defence batteries from Saudi Arabia opened the door for the deployment of other air defense systems in the kingdom.

An Israeli defense source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says that if the UAE and Saudi Arabia decide to purchase the Israeli systems, the deal will be with Rafael's American partner, Raytheon. "This of course will have to get the approval of the Israeli ministry of defense" the source noted.

Israeli sources say that if the U.S deploys its Iron Dome systems in the unnamed Gulf states they will be operated by a U.S. service men.

The Gulf states are worried after Israeli intel discovered that Iran supplied the Yemeni Houthis with the "suicide bomber" drone Shahad-136, carrying an explosive payload. According to a report in Newsweek,these UAV's have a range of 2200 km, which enables them to reach targets in Southern Israel.

According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the Houthi threat is not just firing long-range missiles and precision drones (with Iranian assistance in the whole weapons production process) at Israel. According to Israeli intelligence estimates, the Houthis may attempt to strike Israeli ships sailing in the Red Sea and the Bab el-Mandab Strait region using naval mines or explosive boats. They have already successfully unleashed these weapons on Saudi targets. In the course of 2020, the international naval coalition destroyed 176 Iranian naval mines deployed in the waters of the Red Sea.