Recent attacks by Iran's proxies in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen indicate that Iran has given the green light to its proxies to target U.S. and Israeli interests. Iran's recent Shiite militia attacks aimed to demonstrate the unity of the so-called "Axis of Resistance" operating against Israel and the US from several fronts. The attack that started after the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 ended almost six months, in which Iranian-backed militia refrained from launching drones or rockets at American troops in Iraq and Syria. Iran-backed groups have launched drones and rocket attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and a U.S. base in southeast Syria.
On Oct. 19, Brigadier General Pat Ryder, US Department of Defense spokesperson, said that the crew of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney, operating in the northern Red Sea, shot down three land-attack cruise missiles and several drones that were launched by Houthi forces … "they were launched from Yemen, heading north along the Red Sea, potentially towards targets in Israel.”
A week later, the WSJ reported that the Houthis fired five Iranian-provided cruise missiles and launched about 30 drones toward Israel in an attack more extensive than the Pentagon initially described.
The protracted crisis in Yemen, spanning over a decade, has given Iran the chance to provide the Houthi rebels with drones and missiles. These weapons have been operationally tested in the ongoing conflict between the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition. Iran turned Yemen into a testing ground for various weapons it is developing for maritime and asymmetric warfare.
Ansar Allah has used Quds cruise missiles (Referred to as the ‘351 land-attack cruise missile' by the US military), in previous attacks, Quds- targeted Abu Dhabi on January 17, 2022. Ansar Allah unveiled the Quds cruise missile in July 2019. It was confirmed to be of Iranian origin after being used in attacks on Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq and Khurais oil infrastructure on September 14, 2019. USS Forrest Sherman (DDG-98) seized components of the 351 land-attack cruise missile, and that’s the missile used by Iran to attack the ARAMCO refineries in Abqaiq and Khurais
In a September 21, 2022 parade, the Houthis introduced a new version called the Quds-3. Subsequently, On the September 2023 parade, they unveiled the Quds-4 and Quds Z-0 in another parade, although specific range figures were not provided. On the recent parade, the announcer said:
"Now, the three generations of the Quds missile will pass in front of the podium: Quds-1, Quds-2, and Quds-3… The Quds-4 – a new missile will now pass before the podium. It is a winged, long-range, surface-surface missile and the fourth generation of winged Quds missiles. It can hit targets with high precision without radar detection."
The Iranian military confirmed that the Quds series is of Iranian origin, and it was displayed during a visit by Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu to Tehran on September 20. Four of these missiles were also featured in a military parade in Tehran two days later, where they were identified as Paveh missiles.
In February 2023, Iranian media reported the existence of the Paveh missile, a long-range solid-fuel cruise missile. It has a reported range of over 1,650 km. The head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, Brig Gen Amir Ali Hajizadeh, announced the development of the Paveh in February.
Additionally, Ansar Allah possesses the Iranian Shahed-136 one-way attack UAV. This UAV is reported to have a range of 2,000 km and can carry a payload of 40 kg.
Iran's green light to its Shiite proxy militias positions it as the coordinator and primary driver of the conflict against Israel and the United States. However, in practice, Iran has refrained from direct engagement with Israel and the United States since the outbreak of the Gaza war. Instead, it relies on motivating its proxies and engaging in vigorous diplomatic efforts to seek an end to the Gaza war.