A missile that the U.S. Department of Defense says is a "Qiam" ballistic missile manufactured in Iran and that the Pentagon says was fired by Houthi rebels from Yemen into Saudi Arabia on July 22, 2017 is seen on display at a U.S. military base in Washington, U.S..
(photo credit: JIM BOURG/ REUTERS)
Iranian media reported on Monday that the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen fired a precision missile at Saudi-led coalition headquarters. It is not the first time the Yemeni-produced Badr P-1 ballistic missile has been used, but it represents another attempt by Iranian media to boast about the accuracy of their ballistic missile program, which is part of the wider network of Iranian-backed precision-missile weapons programs and technology transfer, including Hezbollah.
In late October, Houthi rebels in Yemen unveiled what they called a “domestically designed and manufactured smart missile intended to precisely hit specific targets.” It had all the trappings of a highly sophisticated weapon. They claimed it would minimize collateral damage and “increase lethality against designated targets.” It was designed to counter the Riyadh regime and the “atrocities of aerial bombardment” carried out by the Saudi-led coalition, which has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.
used solid-propellant and was termed as Badr P-1, an upgrade from the Badr-1. It was said to have a pinpoint accuracy of “up to three meters.” The UN and other countries have alleged that Iran has transferred missile technology and parts to the Houthis. In early November, the Houthis claimed to have fired a Badr P-1 at a Saudi military base. Now another missile has been fired at Saudi forces in the Midi desert.
“The missile hit the target with high precision and led to the deaths and injuries of a number of military allied forces with the Saudi coalition,” said Fars News on Monday. It claimed that the missile’s success was part of a larger program, which may include “other missiles.” How the Iranian-based Fars knows there are “other missiles” is unclear.
The missile firing was mentioned on social media as well. The missile appears to be around six meters long, making it similar to a Fajr-5 artillery rocket. In February 2017, Iran unveiled a guided version called the Fajr-5C. Iran has an extensive missile program and has been increasing the precision of its ballistic missiles in the past year, by striking at Kurdish opposition forces in Iraq in September and against ISIS in Syria in October.
The Houthi decision to go public with the missile – hosting a kind of reception for it with non-alcoholic beverages and a TV screen claiming to show its attributes as if it was a sales presentation at an arms show – shows they are trying to illustrate their abilities. The fact that Iranian media got fed the video shows a clear notion of where the support comes from. On the one hand, the Houthis put forward a narrative of starving Yemen being attacked by Saudi Arabia, while they developed precision munitions. This would appear to show that while there is massive suffering in Yemen and millions at risk of starvation, the actual conflict between the Houthis and the Saudi coalition is not so clear cut. The missile program they exhibit also has links to the wider Iranian attempt to support missile programs among Hezbollah and Hamas, either through financial support or direct technology transfers.
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