Category Archives: Middle East

Russia’s Syrian Operation is Both Political and Military

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer According to western experts, Russia’s military move in Syria is both geostrategic and political. A key facet of Russian defense policy is retention of its naval supply and maintenance base at the Syrian port of Tartus, vital to its eastern Mediterranean naval operations and broader ventures. Deployment of top-line T-14 Armada tanks, heavy artillery, modular housing units for 1000 men and a portable air traffic control unit at the Latakia Airport also suggests that Russia may seek to acquire a more permanent airbase in Syria. Latakia , as a predominantly Alawite area of Syria is considered President Bashar al-Assad’s political base of support and the portion of Syria to be most easily held as an enclave in a worst-case scenario. Russia, acting in accordance with its foreign policy objectives, considers the Alawite sect of Islam a useful Read more

Limited Russian Military Involvement in Syria Confirmed

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer IDM Confirms Russian Military Presence in Syria Israeli Defense Minister, Moshe Yaalon, has confirmed an active Russian military presence in Syria. Speaking at a press conference on Thursday 9/10/2015, he said, "As far as we understand, at this stage we are talking about a limited force that includes advisers, a security team and preparations for operating planes and combat helicopters.“ He also termed the development "significant", according to an AP report. The move has raised US and NATO concerns. Russian foreign and defense policies are committed to preserving strategic Russian military outposts throughout the world and aquirine new ones as demonstrated bt recent Russian-Iranian naval maneuvres in the Persian Gulf, during which Russian vessels docked at an Iranian port. Russia has a key naval base at the Syrian port of Tartus containing Read more

Iranian Naval Force Reaches Bab al-Mandeb

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer According to the Iranian news agency, IRNA, Iranian naval forces of the 34th Fleet have reached the Bab el-Mandeb, a strategic strait and oil traffic choke point between Yemen and Djibouti, Iran's navy commander said earlier today. The force consists of the frigate, Alborz (F-72) and the light replenishment ship, Bushehr (AORLH-422). IRIN Commander Vice Admiral Habibolla Sayyari (IRIN Photo) Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, stated that the IRIN ships are on an anti-piracy patrol mission. "We are present in the Gulf of Aden in accordance with international regulations to ensure the safety of commercial ships of our country against the threat of pirates," he said. Iranian merchant shipping has been attacked by Somali pirates in the past. Sayyari also stated that the Iranian Navy has maintained a continuous presence in the Gulf of Aden, Bab el-Mandeb Read more

Iran Denies Shipping Weapons to Houthi Insurgents

Fighting Intensifies in Yemen By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer Speaking in response to recent reports of suspected arms shipments, Iranian Navy Commander, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, has officially denied that the Irianian convoy was carrying arms destined for Houthi insurgents in Yemen. Furthermore, he said that Iran Navy warships were originally deployed along area shipping routes as an anti-piracy operation in accordance with UN approved resolutions. IRIN Commander, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari (IRNA photo) He also stated that Iran would maintain warships in international waters of the Gulf of Aden for at least the next several months, Admiral Sayyari also rejected reports that Iran's fleet has been warned to leave the Gulf of Aden, according to the Islamic Republic's state news agency, IRNA. http://irna.ir/en/News/81584120/ Meanwhile, in an apparently new phase of Read more

Yemen Area Naval Situation De-escalates

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

The US/Iranian naval tensions, related to suspected strategic arms shipments to Houthi rebels in Yemen appears to be de-escalating as the US Navy aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and guided missile cruiser USS Normandy are being withdrawn and are now heading back to the Persian Gulf, according to Pentagon officials.

Yesterday, the nine-ship Iranian convoy, thought to be carrying arms to Yemen, contrary to UN sanctions, reversed course in the Arabian Sea.

The International Dimensions of Yemen Sector Naval and Evacuation Operations

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer Beyond the current U.S. “Big Stick” naval diplomacy versus Iranian (pre-nuclear) asymmetric maritime power play situation in open waters off the coast of war-torn Yemen, international dimensions have evolved. According to the International Business Times, three German and two Japanese Navy vessels are known to be along the southern periphery of the oceanic area between the port cities of Aden in the west and Al Mukalla further east. The IBT article cited its source as: http://www.ibtimes.com/us-allied-naval-forces-converge-yemen-iran-suspected-supplying-weapons-houthis-1890833 , a free global ship tracking site. Their specific configurations and missions are virtually unknown at this point, but are surmised to be more directed toward general external maritime traffic monitoring rather than surveillance and arms interdiction in Yemeni waters. http://www.ibtimes.com/us-allied-naval-forces-converge-yemen-iran-suspected-supplying-weapons-houthis-1890833 Egyptian Read more

Iranian Convoy Bound for Yemen Reverses Course

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of annonymity in an apparently unauthorized statement, said that the nine-ship convoy of Iranian cargo ship suspected of carrying advanced weapons to Houthi insurgents in Yemen has apparently reversed its course, at least temporarily. The official said it remains unclear where the convoy is currenly headed, but it reportedly was no longer moving toward of the key Yemani port of Aden as of Thursday, April 23. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, yesterday, would not indicate whether or not the US Navy would forcibly stop and board Iranian ships entering Yemeni waters. It should be noted that this report is, as yet, unconfirmed, given the circumstances of its release. See: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/us-official-iranian-cargo-ships-reverse-30534625 Read more

U.S. Probably Will Not Join KSA Blockade of Yemen

Further Pentagon Denials Issued By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer The United States will not join in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's naval blockade of Yemen according to a Pentagon Spokesman, quoted in an April 17 Washington Post article by Dan Lamothe. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/04/17/navy-has-seven-combat-ships-around-yemen-as-saudi-led-blockade-continues The Midlantic Dispatch has compiled a list of eleven ships from various sources, comprising the currently deployed US Navy force as follows: Nimitz class aircraft carrier USNS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-70); Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser USNS Normandy (CG-60); Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers USNS Forrest Sherman (DDG-98), USNS Winston Churchill (DDG-81) and USNS Sterett (DD 104); Avenger class minesweepers USNS Sentry (MCM-3) and USNS Dextrous (MCM-13); amphibious assault ship Read more

A Country In Disarray, Or Prudent Action?

Global travel alerts were issued today for American's by the State Department, warning that al Qaeda could launch attacks in the Middle East and North Africa. The State Dept. also announced, 21 embassies and consulates would be temporarily be closed due to the expectation of al Qaeda attacks. Did President Obama overreact to intelligence reports that show a potential for attacks in Yemen and other hotspots in Northern Africa and the Middle East? A Senior National security official in Yemen said that the threat appeared to be much worse than it has been in a long time, but is this overreaction on President,s part, a show of weakness. US officials were particularly concerned about the security of the US Embassy in Yemen between the days between Saturday and Tuesday. The 17 Embassies are in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Read more