Iranian military officials inspecting drones on display prior to a military drone drill at an undisclosed location in central Iran, Jan 5, 2021. (AFP)

By Trackpersia

February 28, 2022

Recent Israel reports have revealed that the regime is supplying Iranian-made drones to Venezuela with precision-guided munitions. At his meeting with the American officials in Jerusalem, the Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz showed the attendants photographs for what he described as an Iranian Mahajer UAV (an unmanned aerial vehicle) in Venezuela. Gantz said that the Iranians were delivering precision-guided munitions for the UVAs and other similar models, expressing his concerns over this development.

As always, the Iranian regime denies supporting its allies with such weapons. However, in 2012, Venezuela admitted that Tehran was supporting the regime in Venezuela with its endeavour to produce drones allegedly for self-defence. Iran and Venezuela have a long history of cooperation, particularly in oil export. Being OPEC members Sharing mutual interests and international polities including animosity towards the United States has enhanced their relationship.

The new revelations come as Tehran is busy with concluding a new nuclear deal with world powers in Vienna. Israel supported the 2018 withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and, with Washington now taking part in negotiations to revive the pact, has urged caution.

According to Israeli reports, the Iranian drones were downed last Tuesday while reports by Iranian media say Israel is helping American forces to attack the Houthi rebels and militant organizations affiliated with Iran.

Over the past few years, the Iranian regime and its allies have intensively used drones in their warfare and attacks on their adversaries. It appears that Tehran has been instructing its proxies to use drones operations against its adversaries in the region.

One of the most infamous operations that the Iran axis has used drones so far is the assassination attempt on the Iraqi Prime Minister Moustafa al-Kadhimi. Iran-backed Shiite militias in Iraq carried out these drone attacks following their heavy loss in Iraq’s parliamentary elections on 10 October and their protests to reject the results of the elections. Hundreds of pro-Iran militiamen protested the election results and clashed with security forces in Baghdad near the heavily fortified Green Zone. Militias such as Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kataib Hezbollah integrated efforts to stage protests at the Green Zone carrying slogans against al-Kadhimi’s government in an attempt to drag Iraqi security forces into violent confrontations.

According to Iraqi security sources, the assassination operation was reportedly carried out by three drones carrying explosives targeting the residence of al-Kadhimi in the Green Zone. Two of the drones were shot down when they were flying towards their target. Gunfire sounded and smoke was seen rising from the Green Zone area after the strike. Photos issued by Kadhimi’s office show debris scattered on the ground below a damaged exterior stairway and a door that had been dislodged.

Two of al-Kadhimi’s bodyguards were reportedly wounded and al-Kadhimi himself was seen with a bandaged hand in a televised statement in which he announced he had survived the assassination and he knew the perpetrators vowing he would bring them to justice. However, the Iraqi state and its judiciary authorities are intimidated by the Iranian-backed militias that they do not dare to prosecute or even reveal the name of the militia responsible for the attack to the public.

Abu Ali al-Askari, the spokesperson of Kataib Hezbollah, the most powerful militia linked to Tehran in Iraq said in a statement posted on Tweeter that “no Iraqi would desire to expend a drone on the house of the outgoing Prime Minister,” going on to note that if anyone did wish to do so, there would be “many less expensive ways to achieve that.”

On the second anniversary of the killing of the Iranian Gen Qasem Soleimani, two armed drones were shot down as they approached a military facility hosting American forces at Baghdad’s international airport. A coalition source said that a counterrocket system at a compound used by the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS) extremist group “engaged the two drones and they were shot down without incident”. The unmanned aircrafts the Iranian-backed groups in the attack  were described as “suicide drones,” and the incident was “a dangerous attack on a civilian airport.”

General Qassem Soleimani, who headed the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and his Iraqi lieutenant Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, were killed on January 3, 2020 in a drone strike near Baghdad airport. The air strike, ordered by then-President Donald Trump, came in response to a spate of attacks against U.S. interests in Iraq. Soleimani was considered a main architect of Iran’s Middle East military strategy, and his killing ratcheted up tensions between Iran and the United States. Five days after Soleimani’s death, Iran fired missiles at an Iraqi air base hosting U.S. forces and another base near the Iraqi city of Irbil.

Tehran’s new warfare trend of using drones in warfare also targets Iran’s adversaries in the Gulf via its proxy in Yemen. Iran-backed Houthis allies in Yemen have increasingly resorted to attack neighbouring countries the Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates using Iranian-made drones, signalling a worrying development that could lead to further instability for the entire region.

In January 2019, Houthi rebels in Yemen used drones in their attacks on a military parade organised by the internationally recognised Yemeni government official killing seven Yemeni officials. The Houthis were reportedly used in that attack the off-the-shelf commercial technology in the form of an Iranian-made Qasef-1.

The growing use of drones stems from Tehran’s conviction that this sort of weapons has become the most feasible tool used in the world that even world powers such as the United State have used them in their fighting on terror. For this reason we have notice that previously the Houthis used to target their adversaries, in particular, Saudi Arabia with conventional weapons of ballistic. However, more recently, the Houthis’ strategy has shifted to involve using low-tech drones alongside sophisticated missiles because of the effectiveness of the former.

Similarly,  the extremist groups such as the Islamic State (IS) are no exception. In its fighting against the coalition forces, the IS has used drones in their strikes, in particular, back in 2017. The group also heavily used drones in its intelligence-gathering tasks and its propaganda war back in 2014. In the later years, the group has used drones as air carriers of improvised explosive devices (IED)s to target their enemies in battlefields.

Additionally, the use of these drones proved it is less expensive and more convenient, in addition to being the most favourable warfare tools for Iran given they can wreak significant instability in the region.

Most importantly, the aim of Iran’s use of drones against adversaries is to send messages that can terrorise its victims and expose their vulnerability.

About Track Persia

Track Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.