Drones are on everyone’s mind in Middle East - analysis

Two drones were alleged to have crashed in southern Beirut in the early hours of Sunday. Photos showed them, they appeared to be quadcopters.

By
August 25, 2019 11:21
3 minute read.
Israel’s Elbit

Israel’s Elbit defense contractor is aiming to supply at least 20 systems of its Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 drones, seen here during a presentation at a Swiss airbase. (photo credit: REUTERS)

On August 22 members of the 12th Brigade of the Popular Mobilization Forces near Baghdad saw a drone hovering near their position. The forces are a group of paramilitaries mostly made up of former Shi’ite militias. The PMU “foiled the mission of an enemy drone,” a statement later said. In fact all they did was fire wildly into the air at the apparent drone.

Later observers surmised that the drone was a surveillance drone either run by the Iraqi government or US-led Coalition as part of anti-ISIS operations.

The summer in Iraq is very hot and people are on edge after four mysterious explosions at munitions warehouses of the PMU. Members of the PMU have blamed the US and Israel for the attacks, while leaders of the government have urged calm for an investigation to take place.



Drones are on everyone’s mind these days in the Middle East. Two drones were alleged to have crashed in southern Beirut in the early hours of Sunday. Photos showed them, they appeared to be quadcopters, the kind of drones one might use to photograph weddings or such. But they may have dual-use purposes. Hezbollah officials told Iran’s PressTV the drones were Israeli.  Al-Mayadeen reported the same.

In Yemen the Houthi rebels celebrated the downing of a US drone on August 21, claiming that a surface-to-air missile had struck it. US officials said the missile was supplied by Iran. On Saturday Saudi Arabia’s air defense intercepted Houthi drones that were flying toward the city of Jazan and Khamis Mushayt.

On Saturday night Israel also says that it struck drones in southern Syria. These were part of a “large-scale attack of multiple killer drones” that Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force operatives and Shi’ite militias were preparing to use against Israel.

In northern Syria the Turkish military is using drones to keep tabs on an expanding Syrian regime offensive. A convoy of Turkish soldiers who are part of the observation posts Turkey has set up in Idlib were accompanied by drones, according to reports. Julian Ropcke noted on August 20 that two Turkish army drones were circling over Idlib and Hamas provinces.” In addition Syrian rebels have used drones to attack Russian forces in Syria. On August 11 an attack on Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base in Syria was repelled by Russian air defense.

In Libya drones have played a key role on both sides of the civil conflict. Forces loyal to Khalifa Khaftar have allegedly used drones recently to kill up to forty in one incident, and the Tripoli government has used drones in late July to target an airport used by Khaftar’s forces. The Libyan conflict is seen as a kind of proxy conflict for drones supplied by Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how drones are increasingly being used by countries with sophisticated technology to police borders and hunt terrorists or fight wars. Israel is a leader in drone technology, as is the US. But Iran has also rolled out an impressive array of drones and even groups such as ISIS used drones during their war.


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