>> However, many observers consider that the Iranian role has been exaggerated, taking a fairly distant supporting role at most, with the Houthis acting very much on their own agenda, rather than as an Iranian proxy. Overall, the evidence from SIPRI data, the UN panel, and other sources, appears to support the idea that, while Iranian arms supplies have not been trivial, the primary sources of arms from the Houthis has been local, from those sections of the Yemeni army that supported them, from their former pro-Saleh allies, captured weapons, and the sort of locally assembled equipment discussed above.
Thanks to earlier post for the link
The implication from tufts is that this is not rebels firing missiles made elsewhere but assembling parts from global (dual use?) supply chains - which does rather imply drone / UAv manufacturing is within reach of any state and most groupings.
Even if the Houthis obtain armament from other sources, they may absolutely be following Iranian agenda. Indeed it seems hardly coincidental that their campaign against KSA has been escalating in lockstep with Iran's campaign of violently lashing out against the sanctions imposed upon it.
Moreover, there's very clear evidence that Iran (through IRGC) is supplying the Houthis with their most sophisticated weapons, such as Kornet missiles and indeed drones like those used in this attack:
> The Houthis have repeatedly used a drone that is nearly identical to Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company's Ababil-T drone in strikes against Saudi Arabia.
So whether it has other sources to acquire arms seems quite irrelevant. The fact is, the Houthis are using sophisticated Iranian weapons in attacks that are perfectly aligned with Iranian interests (and completely unaligned with identifiable Yemenite interests).
Be careful of uncritically accepting assertions that Iran isn't responsible for the actions of its various proxies. Iran has a strong interest in denying this responsibility, and indeed this denial is the core reason Iran has a proxy strategy to begin with.
This could totally have been done by someone with a $100 drone, a grenade, and a few weeks of electronics work. Program the drone to wait 1 week, take off, fly to the target, and trigger the grenade. The fact the target was a tank of petrol will do the rest.
Do this 100 times on the same night, and the attacker could have a real impact on a nations economy.
That's like saying you can bring down a massive skyscraper by hurling a lit match into its generator room.
Yes, in theory it can hit the right spot at the right time to start a massive chain reaction, but the odds of that actually happening are impossibly low.
Now multiply by the number of facilities that were hit, and it's the odds of winning N different lotteries with N random tickets.
No, this was done with far more sophisticated military-grade attack drones, backed by robust Command and Control system.
Very likely it was done by the HESA Ababil drone that Iran is known to have supplied to the Houthis and was involved in prior Houthi attacks:
Not the sort of drone you can buy on Amazon for $100.
Also notice how dramatically they stepped up their campaign against KSA since Iran launched its aggressive campaign to lash out against economic sanctions.
There's no inherent reasons the Houthis should be launching sophisticated, high-impact attacks on KSA on a weekly basis. This sort of escalation makes no sense within their own geopolitical context, but makes perfect sense when you consider Iran's contexts and regional goals.
Same for Hezbollah group in Lebanon against Israel. All the recent tensions in that conflict can't be explained by the organic interests of the Lebanese nation or people. In fact, a conflict with Israel is against the Lebanese national interest and would lead to great destruction in Lebanon. However, Hezbollah is escalating and building up towards that very conflict.
The vast majority of Hezbollah's budget is contributed by Iran:
Iran can ill afford to make that investment if they don't get much out of it, and it's pretty accurate to say Hezbollah is acting according to the interest of Iran far more than any other set of interests, including the Lebanese interest.
Hezbollah owes its power and arguably its existence to Iran. It's naive to expect it to act independently of Iranian interests.
Without the Saudi intervention, the Houthis would most likely not have much of a relationship with Iran at all.
Either way, the KSA intervention failed, and the Houthis were able to take over and establish themselves as the dominant power in Yemen, so my assertion stand: they currently have no organic reason to launch a campaign against KSA. Normally a rebel force in this situation would focus on stabilizing their own rule in their country.
Also, the Houthis had launched around 200 previous drone attacks against Saudi in retaliation; this one was just significantly more successful, as opposed to a new campaign.
In 2015, when the Saudi’s intervened, a UN assessment asserted that there was no evidence of Iran having any “command and control” over the Houthis at the time.
If intervening in the Yemeni civil war on the side of a losing faction and bombing indiscriminately earned Saudi Arabia the Houthi’s enmity, pushed them closer to Iran, and resulted in an effective reprisal, the moral of the story would seem to be that actions have consequences and rashly attempting regional hegemony carries risk.
The rest of your comments don't contradict my initial statements. The Saudis tried to keep Hadi in power and failed. The attacks against them by the Houthis are inversely correlated to the Saudi intervention. The Saudis have been scaling back their intervention, while the Houthis are attacking them more and using firepower and weapons they obviously received from Iran.
The Houthis have no reason to keep escalating against KSA now that KSA has virtually stopped their intervention. This would be an insane strategy - a rebel force launching extremely aggressive and escalating attacks against a large and powerful neighbor who stopped fighting them 3 years ago.
The only way you can explain this is that they are doing Iran's bidding. As the weapons are Iranian, this is hardly far-fetched.
As for the fantasy of Saudi Arabia stopping intervention, they bombed a Houthi site in Dhamar less than two weeks ago in continuation of their bombing campaign of the last four years. That attack, which killed around 100 people, was merely the deadliest in this extremely dirty conflict, and likely sparked the Houthi reprisal.
Here's another article about their military activity in Iraq: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_intervention_in_Iraq_(...
Besides that, they have been involved recently in multiple actions to seize oil tankers, culminating in the seizure of a British-flagged tanker:
They seized other tankers as well, for instance:
 Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Global Politics
Many of these nations are now failed states, containing factions that are more powerful than any sort of central government or military. Chief examples of that are Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen.
However, there are ME nations-states that do have a strong and coherent central government. Egypt, KSA, and Iran are examples of that.
So a more accurate model would be a mixture of failed artificial states interacting with states that are more functional and coherent.
You can purchase the plans for a UAV you can cut yourself on a CNC/cutter.
Flying Squirrel Gemini V-2
For example, does not having martyrs fit in with the traditional narrative of Islamic terrorism? Was drone warfare really an option before ISIL?
Destroying an oil refinery doesn't really achieve that goal.
I doubt this is a case of a simple hobbyist level project. The drones would have needed serious firepower combined with advanced guidance systems that could keep a target visually and/or with purely inertial sensors, and would likely have to operate entirely autonomously.
Even the most poorly built drone can fly low and slow enough to be invulnerable to anything but human aimed AA guns, but for that one can just double the numbers
Military strategists are actively thinking through this and some high risk private or public sector industrial targets are as well.
Statements like, "Just use EMP or signal jammers." do not take into account the collateral damage and impacts EMP or broad wavelength frequency jamming have either short or long term on the defenders.
It's how the missiles do it, btw.
Or you can include GPS with sanity checks. Then only subtle deviation attacks would work.
Putting the electronics in a box protects against EMP attacks too.
Defending against that is hard!
You can dissipate kilowatts of RF energy just with structural components of a UAV, so physically frying a UAV is completely out of the question.
Near all of aviation composites come with some copper or aluminium mesh exactly for EMI, and lighting strike protection these days.
And for protecting antenna inputs, there are god knows how much circuits even a high schoolers can do.
Russia has an ICBM sized vacuum tube capable of 1gw+ of omnidirectional output in a short impulse. But get guess how inverse square law works with it. Even with such monster will only get you <1kw at a kilometre.
You can further imagine it being used with directional antenna, and so, but it will not change things much
Glad to see we’re still very clear on what is important (the property of the ruling class, oil sheiks) and what isn’t (the lives of civilians and children).
It's hard to see how the Saudis would give in to such threats directly but there must be a calculation here - can they force the Saudis to the negotiating table with this new capability or can the US supply a missile defence system capable of stopping this?
I suspect that forcing both sides to the table would be the RoW's preference?
What a time to be Trumps new incoming National Security Advisor - busy morning !
Short range air defence can, but as its name suggests, it's short ranged.
Plus, worryingly, this does seem a fairly automatable attack. The limiting factor for the attackers must be the supply of drones plus any concerns about wiping their geo fencing / remote self destructs built in. As someone who would get his drones from the local curry's I presume the attackers have some other supply channel ?
The rest of the world I guess will catch up sooner or later.
Yes. Cheap. Easily available. Can be launched from a Camel. Don't have to attack major facilities. It is enough to attack pipelines in the desert. How much does a drone cost?
That's a feature I wasn't expecting to hear about today.
> The Borkan is a modified Scud
The newer models appear to be the originals, but I find it hard to believe that Yemen could develop a radar-evading 1500km range drone on their own. Someone's helping them, no doubt. Any ideas who that might be?
Via the Campaign Against Arms Trade website , Who is arming the Yemen war? An update. 
"So far, the western countries with the largest arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, namely the USA, the UK, and France, have continued to sell arms to both countries"
The US is now the world's largest oil exporter, so a limited confrontation that leads to picking up slack in the global oil market and selling more arms to Saudi Arabia is very much in its interest.
It could be Iran, it could be others. It could be Iran and others, which is likely, because Iran doesn't have much money to spend right now.
- KSA is at war with Yemen.
- KSA has a land border with Yemen.
- KSA army has not invaded Yemen.
- KSA army is not deployed in Yemen.
Some parts of Yemen have been captured by sympathetic local forces, supported by the UAE and Colombian mercenaries deployed by sea routes.
It is testament to the terrain; the capability and tenacity of the Houthis; and the lack of capability and tenacity of the KSA army.
however an earlier comment linked eventually to mintpressnews and a claim that they are domestically manufacturing drones (UAV-like not consumer)
If these are domestically produced (presumably helped by Iran as opposed to supplied) then the bar to becoming a "threat to your neighbours" just got a lot lower - Yemen was poor before years of war.
https://www.mintpressnews.com/uae-yemen-troop-withdrawal-hou... (No idea about the provenance of this article, but it says Houthi have drones, and they just bombed so it must have something going for it)
Saudi Arabia brought ugly warfare to Yemen and the war has come back.
Are there any good guys here? Probably not, but this attack on this refinery is an attack on all countries that use the oil from it. We'll all end up paying for it one way or the other.
The only way out from this is developing energy sources that do not depend on this volatile area.
> The Houthi have clown prince Mohammad bin Salman by the balls and can squeeze those at will.
Perhaps don’t link to propaganda blogs.
1. That prince Salman is a serious politician? I mean, give or take a bown saw?
2. That the conclusion of the former news is wrong? It looked more and more unlikely that this war can be won by Saudi Arabia. Now it looks, it might get lost.
By the way, the Emirates left the war already. Wonder why. If I had to take a guess I would say that a drone attack on the Dubai airport would do wonders to their air traffic. But you never know.
"The Houthi have clown prince Mohammad bin Salman by the balls and can squeeze those at will."
no way. You predicted victory for Saudi Arabia.
Of course he's a serious politician, and a skilled one at that. He has managed to greatly strengthen ties with the US, outmaneuver most of his political 'enemies', keep the flow of western weapons coming into his country and get the entire western world to kind of shrug and forget that he had a journalist murdered and cut up with a bone saw.
But weapons have always flown into Saudi Arabia. They have to be proven both:
1. Not very effective in this war and
2. In general not very useful in the hands of Arabs
I don't know Saudi Arabia well enoughto judge about this political enemies. I have read he has made some progress in modernization. Hi megalomaniac "neom" project seems to have failed, at least stalled. He has alienated Qatar, he has sided with the Israelis which could backfire easily from Muslim extremists.