Yemen: USS Maddox, Er, USS Mason -- Did Yemenis Really Fire Missiles at the US Navy? Plus Diego Garcia Rumors

For his part, former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst and retired Army colonel Patrick Lang, who knows Yemen very well from his time there as a U.S. military attache, has expressed some doubts about the Navy's version of the 'missile attacks' on the USS Mason:

Wait, what? You mean CNN the U.S. fired Tomahawk missiles on the basis of a mistake?

According to news reports the US has retaliated against shore radars in Yemen with Tomahawk cruise missiles.

OK. I wonder why the USS Mason did not sink attacking small boats with the 20mm, 4500 rds/minute radar trained gatling guns on board. there usually are two, one in the bow and another at the stern. These things have a range of over 2 miles and will chew a speed boat to bits in an instant. The Mason would also have had one or two 5 inch radar trained naval guns. If you are attacked at sea you sink the opponent. That is basic stuff, especially when you consider the unforgiving nature of the US Navy when dealing with a commanding officer who lets one of their precious ships be damaged. I was on the JCS investigating board for the Iraqi attack on USS Stark. The circumstances of the damage on the ship were quite ambiguous but the captain and his officers knew well from the beginning that their careers were at an end in spite of the fact that they managed to save the burned out ship. So, why did the CO of USS Mason not react more forcefully DURING the attack?

And then there is the little matter of the identity of the attackers. As some here know I was Defense Attaché in Yemen long ago and know the country well having repeatedly returned. The Houthis are, IMO, unlikely to have anti-ship missiles. These are small arms equipped tribal guerrillas. There is a portion of the Yemen Army that has remained allied with the Houthis and loyal to former president, Salih. These fellows have a “missile battalion” with which they have been shooting at targets in Saudi Arabia with SCUD (old Soviet stocks?) and other ballistic missiles. The targets are just about all military in nature; air bases, ground force positions, etc., and they have been hitting a lot of them. Might they have old Chinese Silkworm anti-ship missiles or the like? Certainly.

IMO it is impossible at this time and on the basis of available information to decide exactly what has transpired in this ship action against shore batteries and who did what. pl

Unlike Team RogueMoney's newest contributor 'The Prince', the Russia Analyst doesn't have inside knowledge of the Saudi-Yemeni war, and what it's doing to Riyadh's tottering Kingdom. But the hit the Saudi stock market took after Congress uncharacteristically showed some spine and overrode President Obama's veto of the 9/11 lawsuits bill had to have perturbed the Saudis best friends in Washington D.C. It certainly delayed the Kingdom's plans to issue new bonds to finance a large annual deficit primarily caused by weak oil prices it has been negotiating in secret and in public with Russia to address through mutual production cuts. Which means without some drastic events in the Mideast producing a temporary spike in oil prices, there is no prospect of short or medium term relief for the Kingdom's cash flow problems, which are already leading to salary/benefit cuts for citizens and massive wage arrears for foreign workers.

The damage the Kingdom has done to the rest of OPEC -- especially fiscally ruined oil-rich states such as Venezuela -- and Riyadh's rivalry with Iran will not allow the Saudis an easy exit from their own strategy to destroy North American oil shale and ruin Russia. Even after several meetings between the impetuous if not in over his head Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Putin, Moscow demands as the price of any cooperation in the oil market that the Saudis stop their support for the 'moderate' jihadists fighting Assad's forces in Syria. But the Royals remain caught between the hammer of jihad and the anvil of cheaper oil they've created, and with them those in the (post)Western countries they've bought or co-opted -- like CIA Director and purported Sunni Muslim covert/Royal confidante John Brennan.

It is probably not a coincidence, as cynical observers like the pro-Kurdish blogger @Agitpapa or the pro-Iranian 'Plutonium General' @IRGC_QF joke, that the U.S. decided to attack a country where there are no Russian S400/300s in the way of its bombing. Meaning that just days after Russia warned the U.S. not to bomb Syrian forces or its planes would be shot down by Russian SAMs, the Houthis conveniently decide to invite the Americans to bomb them by firing some Silkworm or old junk missiles at a Navy ship that splash harmlessly into the Red Sea. Except the Houthis and their Saleh loyalist army allies who have access to the Yemen's small arsenal of Chinese, North Korean and Iranian made SCUDs and anti-ship rockets deny any attack on the U.S. ship, even after boasting that they fried a United Arab Emirates flagged catamaran with a C-802 (an Exocet knockoff) sea-skimmer several days ago:

As the Saudi firsters at (al)CIA(eda) led by KSA Royal confidante and Sunni Muslim convert John Brennan are finding out the hard way, proxy wars with plenty of Allah Snackbaring work both ways in the Sandbox.

So to review, if you can't have a real shooting war with the Russians in Syria because they'll shoot back and show the world your air forces including stealth jets aren't invincible if not fire back with tactical nukes, what's a fading superpower to do? Especially with team TOW jihad/AlCIAeda being relentlessly ground down by Russian and Syrian Arab Army firepower in east Aleppo? What do you do if you're the dominant portion of the American Deep State that's hellbent on dragging the war (glue) horse Hillary Clinton across the finish line at any cost this November? Well, you Wag the Dog. And you keep: 

A) blaming any and all emails that reveal damning levels of corruption and knowledge that Clinton Foundation and D.C. mega-donors Saudi Arabia and Qatar fund ISIS on Russian hackers, using a former Deputy CIA Director Mike Morrell to do it

B) Starting yet another Mideast war with 'Iranian proxies' who actually receive very little direct help from Iran, the Houthis, knowing that the proud Persians will at least send a few tin can warships to the Aden to play along. 

C) Rejecting any and all comparisons between what the Saudis are doing in Yemen deliberately terror-bombing funerals with double tap air strikes and what you accuse the Russian Air Force of doing in Aleppo. Because, well you know the Saudis are going to investigate and say they're really sorry for what they've done and maybe pay some blood money to the victims families, something those dastardly Rooskies trying to root Al-Qaeda out of Aleppo would never offer to do:

Riyadh (AFP) - The Saudi-led coalition battling Yemeni rebels said Saturday that one of its warplanes had “wrongly targeted” a funeral in the capital Sanaa, killing more than 140 people, and announced disciplinary measures.

The announcement came as an Omani aircraft evacuated from Sanaa more than 100 of the most seriously wounded in the October 8 strike, which injured at least 525 people and sparked international condemnation.

Muscat also said that it had mediated the release of two American citizens held in Yemen and flew them to Oman on Saturday night on the same relief flight.

US Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the release but said it was too early to reveal their identities.

The team investigating the funeral raid said a coalition aircraft “wrongly targeted” the ceremony based on “incorrect information”.

”Appropriate action... must be taken against those who caused the incident, and... compensation must be offered to the families of the victims,” it said.

It also called on coalition commanders to change their procedures to prevent any repeat of the failings that led to the strike.

The coalition initially denied responsibility but ordered an investigation after Western condemnation, including from Saudi Arabia’s closest allies.

A statement from the coalition said it accepted the results of the investigation and expressed “its regret at this unintentional incident and the ensuing pain for victims’ families”.

The strike was one of the deadliest in the coalition’s 19-month-old bombing campaign in support of Yemen’s beleaguered government.

The problem of course, with State Department spokesman John Kirby and the Saudis' statements is that we doubt Houthi tribal fighters are inclined to accept the Sauds -- or America's -- apologies. While we don't think for a minute the Houthis actually did fire two old piece of junk Silkworm missiles at the USS Mason, we do think the launch of a long range (likely North Korean made) SCUD missile at the Saudi resort town of Taif where American troops reportedly work in small numbers was definitely retaliation for the Kingdom's deliberate massacre bombing in Sa'naa. The Russia Analyst expects more SCUDs and perhaps lower flying and harder to intercept Iranian-made cruise missiles to rain down on southwestern Saudi Arabia to demonstrate to Saudi subjects that Riyadh cannot protect them from the consequences of their Royal Family's foolish aggression:

While the U.S. vows more 'limited' strikes that will likely parallel the 'SCUD hunts' over Iraq of early 1991 on a smaller scale, Houthi guerrillas continue to roam the countryside outside Najran, a Saudi city of half a million people, filming spectacular attacks on Saudi vehicle convoys like this one from last week:

Saudi casualties as unofficial sources in the Gulf have confirmed to the pro-Damascus Al-Masdar News are in excess of 4,500 combat deaths, plus hundreds of troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states that entered the war with the Kingdom, like Kuwait and Qatar and hundreds of Sudanese mercenaries the Gulfies see as black cannon fodder. The UAE had been drawing down its forces in the conflict prior to the C802 strike on its Swift catamaran largely manned by an international mercenary, rather than citizen crew.

Yemeni trap for the Saudi soldiers and vehicles in Jizan 10/13/2016

At any rate, the Saudis have been at war with the most impoverished nation in the Arab world for 19 months, and haven't managed to kill or capture a single Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) adviser or even a Hezbollah soldier in that time. Even the Ukrainians who've lied repeatedly about fighting the regular Russian Army in division sized strength managed to snatch two GRU intelligence officers who were later exchanged for the crazed pilot turned volunteer battalion torturer Nadezhda Savchenko.

A mobile patrol from the Saudi Arabian military is ambushed by Houthi Rebels. They immediately panic, get into a brutal armored vehicle accident, and die. While on a mounted patrol in the South Western city of Najran, near the boarder of Yemen, Saudi Arabian troops are ambushed.

You cannot fight a ground war with an enemy who isn't there, which is perhaps why retired Admiral and former NATO commander (like ex-Deputy Director Morrell, also in the tank or ship for Hillary) James Stavridis says a naval confrontation with Iran is imminent. But again, with which ships? Iran has sent two vessels to the Yemeni coast, vowing to combat piracy and defend its interests in the area. Whatever temporary successes the U.S. may enjoy in taking out SCUD or Qaher missiles in the Yemeni forces possession, the cigarette boats of the IRGC and the arms dealers of Oman will find a way to replace, even if they have to do it 'one piece at a time'. Stavridis is smart enough to understand this, but like much of the neocon/neoliberal interventionist 'Borgist' Establishment in Washington is very distressed by two apparent conclusions:

1) Proxy wars go both ways, and right now the U.S. proxies are losing in both Syria and Yemen. The White House's proclamation that the Russians would find themselves bogged down in a second Afghanistan in Syria didn't happen, and the CIA's efforts to this end without completely exposing its sponsorship of Al-Nusra if not ISIS have also failed miserably. What's left for the CIA to do in arming Syrian proxies with MANPADS or higher altitude capable SAMs can more than be matched by the Russians and Iranians in Yemen, and the Yemeni Army are competent enough to operate older generation Russian SAMs or their Iranian knockoffs against the Royal Saudi Air Force. In other words, instead of handing the Russians their second Afghanistan, America's ally Saudi Arabia is bogged down in its own bloody quagmire, right on its (porous) border.

2) Instead of limitless Saudi cash and Sunni male cannon fodder to hurl against the Assad government and Iranians, the (al)CIA(eda) cabal led by John Brennan that also includes ex-DCI Mike Morrell and numerous Saudi and Qatari funded 'think tanks' which are actually unregistered foreign agents or lobbyists fear that the Saudi Kingdom is turning into the sick man of the Middle East -- even more so than Erdogan's post-coup purges Turkey. Meaning that the economic crisis the Kingdom finds itself in can no longer be glossed over, time and resources for jihad to break the Shi'a crescent are dwindling. The only thing the neocons seem to fear more than Iran turning the tables on the Saudis and bleeding the Kingdom at the Houthis hands in revenge for what Saudi jihadis and proxies have done to them in a Trump White House.

In any case, whether Hillary gets pushed over the finish line or Trump takes over, the neocons intend to present the next president with a fait accompli escalation in the Mideast. If they can't pull that off immediately in Syria due to the Russians threatening war and the humiliating shoot down of American jets in large numbers as well as retaliation against U.S. troops inside Syria, there's always Plan C or D. Which may be highly intense air strikes on the Saudis' behalf against the Houthis, including perhaps on Saudi soil outside Najran, combined with saber rattling against Iran itself plus attempts to probe the Russians' resolve in Syria. What's clear is that without direct American intervention to defend their petrodollar pumping ally, including forward air controllers (FACs) on the ground, the Saudis are going to continue to lose territory and suffer humiliating defeats to the Houthis.

The Obama White House spokesman Josh Earnest and neocons like to say that you don't need S300s and 400s to fight ISIS in Syria, which is true. But they omit the flip side of the coin, which is that the Air Force doesn't need B-2s at Diego Garcia to bomb Daesh at Mosul or Houthi tribesmen, either. However, the Russia Analyst is taking this report (first shared with us in the comments of our previous post by RM reader 'SOF' with a grain of salt):

Location of the strategic U.S./UK base at Diego Garcia in the middle of the Indian Ocean, where alternative media outlets report a buildup of bomber and tanker aircraft is underway

Location of the strategic U.S./UK base at Diego Garcia in the middle of the Indian Ocean, where alternative media outlets report a buildup of bomber and tanker aircraft is underway


According to information from a government contractor, the US has deployed “More planes than I have ever seen in nine years” to the Military Base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Specifically, this contractor wrote to say:

I rotate thru Diego Garcia every 6 weeks to pull maintenance on uplink equipment as a private contractor.

Something big is going on, the island has more aircraft than anytime in the last 9 years. They have blocked off some access roads and are now parking aircraft on the National Road. Barriers have been set up around the aircraft areas. Temporary barracks and hangers are popping up everywhere. A tent city full of AF and Navy maintenance personal has also been set up.

I have never seen B1s and B2s there at the same time. Actually I have never seen more than 1 there at a time. Now, there are very many.

Security is nuts I had to show my id at least 8 times a day.

My coworker is former AF and said they are like that when nukes are around.

We counted over a dozen air refueling tankers on the ground. The airfield had a take off or landing every 1 minute, very busy. When we flew out we waited in line for quite a while. We never had to wait in the past.

The Navy had the docks full of ships and 6 to 8 more were moored just off shore. We watched many pallets of bombs being off loaded from one ship.

There were a bunch of B-52’s coming in that were painted flat black. I have’t seen that before.

UPDATE 10/16/2016 1:30 am EST We may have yet another pretext for those heavy bombers on Diego Garcia to hit Yemen, unless they're too busy bombing around Mosul. The U.S. Naval Institute (USNI) website is reporting the THIRD attempt to hit the USS Mason with some sort of shore-launched missile this week. Either the Yemenis don't understand the range of their own missiles, the Navy is able to easily jam the older generation of anti-ship weapons, or the USNI story is bunk (especially considering CNN's belated reporting that at least one of the prior incidents may not have happened at all and was a radar error). Take your pick. - JWS