At what is obviously a highly dangerous moment where the United States has two carrier strike groups and a nuclear-powered submarine parked in regional waters (a rare build-up even during the prior “global war on terror” years), Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis have launched a wave of drones toward Israel:
Yemen’s Houthis launched a new batch of drones against sensitive targets inside Israel on Monday, according to a statement from their armed forces broadcast by TV channel Al Masirah.
The statement said the targets of the drones were “varied and sensitive” and led to halting the movement in the targeted bases and airports for hours.
It’s unclear how effective they were in reaching Israeli territory, if at all. So far the Yemeni rebels have sent a handful of missiles toward Israel, reportedly with no casualties or damage. The Houthis last week declared “war” on Israel, though their launch sites remain a great distance away from reaching Israeli territory.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s whirlwind diplomacy tour of Arab capitals doesn’t appear to be yielding much fruit. On Sunday he had been in Baghdad, after which the Daily Caller has pointed out:
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani met with Iranian leadership in a show of support for Hamas one day after he met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, according to multiple reports.
Blinken traveled to Baghdad on Sunday to express concerns to al-Sudani about increased attacks by Iranian-backed militia groups on U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, according to the State Department. al-Sudani met with Iranian leadership one day later in Tehran to praise Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attacks and denounce Israel’s counteroffensive, according to a press release from Iran Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s office.
US bases in Iraq and Syria are still on high alert, after some two dozen drone and missile attacks from Iran-linked militant groups have occurred in the last weeks since Oct.7.
The Pentagon is closely monitoring for any further attacks. In such a case, its warships in the eastern Mediterranean are on standby to respond. Significant fire has continued to be traded between Hezbollah and Israel across the Lebanese border.
The US military build-up off Israel’s coast and especially Central Command’s (CENTCOM) willingness to advertise it openly, is cause for serious alarm in terms of the prospect for yet more Washington intervention in yet another major Middle East war.
In a very rare statement, CENTCOM on Sunday evening announced that an Ohio-class submarine has arrived in the region. The US submarine, which is both nuclear-powered and capable of carrying nuclear warheads, has arrived in an “area of responsibility” which includes the eastern Mediterranean, Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and Gulf of Oman. It is unknown and undisclosed precisely what types of advanced weapons it is carrying.
It is the most sophisticated that exists in the US Navy arsenal. Key to the secretive nature of such an advanced sub’s movements is the ability to traverse the seas undetected, without any rival or enemy powers having any idea where it is located, thus the Pentagon almost never puts out statements confirming where a nuclear sub is at any given time.
And yet CENTCOM didn’t just issue a statement, it went so far as to publish a photograph which openly advertises its more precise whereabouts. Israeli media said this is clearly to send a strong “message” to Iran and its proxies:
While the US announcement was scarce on details, it was accompanied by an image that appeared to show a submarine in Egypt’s Suez Canal.
The arrival of the submarine in the region was apparently part of the same strategy that has seen the Pentagon dispatch two carrier strike groups in order to deter Iran and its proxies — not least the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group — from attacking Israel amid its war against Hamas.
US Navy's Ohio-class cruise missile submarine USS Florida (SSGN-728) transit Suez Canal on November 5. pic.twitter.com/c5JWAJmdhF— Clash Report (@clashreport) November 6, 2023
Ohio-class submarines are also reportedly capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles if outfitted for guided missiles, and is part of America’s “nuclear triad” of atomic weapons.
Newsweek reviews of the navy’s Ohio classification of sub capabilities as follows:
The U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class offering consists of 14 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and four cruise missile submarines (SSGNs), the latter converted to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles rather than their original nuclear-armed ballistic missile loadout.
One SSGN can be armed with 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, significantly more than the number carried by U.S. guided-missile destroyers and attack submarines. Tomahawk missiles can carry up to a 1,000-pound high-explosive warhead out to around 1,500 miles.
The US military has also been showing off its significant assets in Middle East skies as well, with CENTCOM simultaneously issuing photos of B-1 bombers which are newly deployed in the area…
One scenario in which the Pentagon is more likely to directly intervene in the Gaza situation militarily is if Hezbollah opens a full war front on Israel’s northern border. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah in a major Friday speech, his first since the conflict began, stressed that “all options are open on our Lebanese front” and specifically addressed the US build-up off the Lebanese and Israeli coasts, saying “Your fleet in the Mediterranean do not scare us… we are ready to face the fleet you threaten us with.”
Iran’s foreign ministry has also issued a fresh statement warning that if a ceasefire in Gaza isn’t reached soon, and if Israel’s attacks on civilians continue to escalate, Americans in the region will be “hit hard” – no doubt a direct threat against US bases in Iraq and Syria.