Earlier this month, the United States revealed that its intelligence services had concluded the attack three months ago on Saudi oil sites was the work of Iran.
Reuters reported that that debris recovered indicates the strike came from the north of one of the locations attacked – refuting the Yemeni Houthi movement’s claims it was responsible.
Iran, which backs the Houthis, denied any involvement. Yet Yemen is south of Saudi Arabia, making Houthi responsibility impossible if the US intelligence assessment is indeed correct.
Israeli officials told Middle East Eye that they tend to accept the US findings, but also emphasised that like many other previous attacks and clashes, it was most probably a joint venture involving Houthis, Iran’s intelligence ministry and the Quds force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
The Quds force’s leader is the notorious Major-General Qassem Soleimani. Officially he serves under IRGC commander Major-General Hossein Salami, a man known for his fiery and aggressive speeches targeting the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
But in reality Soleimani, a close confidant and adviser of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, with whom he has developed fatherly relations, is considered as a much more important commander, certainly with a much better public image.
The interesting recent developments surrounding Iran and Yemen do not stop at the US assessment, however.
Western intelligence sources cited by the French newsletter Intelligence Online have identified the commander of the Iranian Quds force in Yemen. According to the sources, General Reza Shahi, a native of the Iranian city of Shiraz, commands a Revolutionary Guards unit in Yemen of about 400 fighters. It’s reinforced by experts from Hezbollah sent from Lebanon.
Khamenei and his military commanders, including Salami, Soleimani and Shahi, have been trying to conceal and hide Iranian involvement in Yemen.
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