Were Iranian-Made MANPADS Seized at Sea Near Yemen’s Coast?
According to Yemeni officials — Yes, they were seized last Tuesday during the interdiction of a 130-foot dhow. And by these accounts, echoed in supportive statements from anonymous officials in Washington, many other arms were seized from the ship, too.
It would be helpful now to see footage from the seizure. (Did Yemen really stop and board the vessel, as described, or did the U.S. Navy vessel nearby take the lead?) And for further verification, it would be useful to have the reportedly seized weapons displayed. It would also be helpful to be provided with clear indications of the seized weapons’ provenance, including a copy the dhow’s bill of lading and photographs of distinctly identifying markings for all of the arms.
Presumably none of this should be hard to do, as such an inventory and process of identification should have preceded the news releases and background briefings today.
Why show the goods? Certainly, there is not much question that Iran has been increasingly involved in the arms trade in Africa or that Iran has interests via proxies in destabilizing Yemen. But then there is this: Yemeni and American officials have a history of collaborating on statements about their security partnership and military operations that are, to be blunt, outright false.
Showing the seized items and the dhow’s records would help the publics of all three nations — Iran, Yemen and United States — to assess what happened last week at sea. If someone in Iran is moving MANPADS to proxies, or, for that matter, to most anyone else, that would a very serious matter. And so: Evidence, then. Let’s see the evidence.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH
Reportedly a Misagh-2 Man-Portable Air-Defense System, a weapon of the so-called Stinger class, and of the sort supposedly seized. From www.armyrecognition.com. NOTE: These systems are not widely distributed, and there are contradictory images out there for them. Other sources suggest they look differently than the image above. We’ll hope to settle that question. Perhaps Yemeni and American officials can help.