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Iranian Navy Captures US Drones and Hamas Executions

Updated: Sep 12

September 1-6, 2022 | Issue 16 - CENTCOM

Nereida Pérez, CENTCOM Team

Deepankar Patil, Editor; Hannah Norton, Senior Editor



A Saildrone Explorer in the Red Sea during an international maritime exercise[1]



Date: September 1, 2022

Location: Red Sea

Parties involved: US; US Navy; Iran; Iranian Navy; Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGC Navy)

The event: Iranian Navy's Jamaran destroyer seized two US Navy Saildrone Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs), in the Red Sea following an earlier unsuccessful attempt by an IRGC Navy ship to capture a US drone in the Arabian Gulf. The drones were released on September 2 following an agreement by both parties.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The drone seizure almost certainly indicates that technology theft occurred. Iran very likely sought to access intelligence-gathering mechanisms as well as reverse-engineer the devices, as there is a roughly even chance that Iran is producing its own USVs, which Iran will almost certainly use for patrolling purposes in the Red Sea. There is a roughly even chance that Iran will seek to enhance other maritime systems, such as its unmanned underwater vehicles. Upgraded capabilities will likely allow Iran to exert a stronger military presence in the Red Sea and challenge the US Navy with power-demonstration maneuvers.

  • Increased hostility by Iran is very likely a tactic to pressure the US during nuclear deal negotiations, almost certainly endangering the agreement’s success. Iran will likely use the drone incident and US naval presence in the Red Sea to reduce its concessions in the agreement. There is a roughly even chance that Iran will continue to provoke and target US assets in the Red Sea if US concessions do not suit Iranian interests.

  • Future hostility by Iran will almost certainly exacerbate US-Iranian maritime tensions, very likely jeopardizing maritime security and shipping routes in the Red Sea and almost certainly worsening the global energy crisis. Trade will likely be diverted to longer routes to avoid collateral damage to trading vessels, very likely through the Cape of Good Hope. Such detours will very likely delay the arrival of energy supplies to ports in the Northern Hemisphere, almost certainly slowing down efforts to stock up oil and gas for the fall, amidst the current energy crisis and higher demand due to winter.



Date: September 4, 2022

Location: Gaza Strip, Palestine

Parties involved: Hamas; Palestinan Islamic Jihad (PIJ); Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas; Palestinian Authority (PA); United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA); Israel

The event: Hamas authorities executed five Palestinians in Gaza Strip, three for criminal cases and two for alleged collaboration with Israel. The two individuals accused of collaboration had been arrested in 2009 and 2015. These executions in Gaza were conducted without approval from Abbas, violating Palestinian law.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • These executions very likely suggest that Hamas seeks to reassure its status in Gaza as the largest and most influential militant group, likely to counter PIJ’s popularity in Gaza. The executions of alleged Israeli-collaborators were very likely carried out to counter popular disappointment in Hamas following their inaction during August 2022’s fighting between PIJ and Israel. Hamas very likely seeks to bolster its reputation, almost certainly showing Palestinians it has the effective legal control to render justice against deserters and protect Gazans from Israel.

  • Hamas will likely receive acceptance from the most conservative factions of Hamas but such unlawful actions will likely prompt further divisions in Hamas’ leadership. Hamas will likely count on PIJ’s approval, as it is likely that PIJ will praise the executions as a successful setback against Israel. Hamas’ measures will almost certainly receive strong criticism from the international community, very likely to result in UNRWA cutting funding for schools and hospitals, almost certainly worsening living standards in Gaza. There is a roughly even chance that the PA, in retaliation, will limit funds reaching Gaza, almost certainly further deteriorating economic and humanitarian conditions in Gaza.

 

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)


[1]Saildrone Explorer” by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dawson Roth licensed under US Department of Defense

[2] Iranian Navy seized 2 US Navy maritime drones on Thursday, CNN, September 2, https://edition.cnn.com/2022/09/02/politics/iran-navy-us-maritime-drones/index.html

[3] Hamas executes 5 Gazans charged with murder, aiding Israel, Reuters, September 2022, https://apnews.com/article/middle-east-israel-gaza-strip-mahmoud-abbas-hamas-eb3427d75da0d812e18681dc00d508d4

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