Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Waterways of the Middle East Grow More Dangerous as the Weeks Pass

Another Huge Cache of Weapons Seized As Shots Fired in Strait of Hormuz
Shipping News Feature

NORTH ARABIAN SEA – As the situation in Gaza deteriorates, with talk of all-out war between Israel and Hamas our picture shows a huge cache of arms seized from a 'stateless dhow' by US forces, a parcel of munitions which poses several questions.

We are indebted to weapons expert Ed Nash of Military Matters who has reported the case in full on his YouTube video channel giving an insight into the origin of the haul. Whilst the US Navy investigates it has hesitated in commenting on the manufacturing point. Whilst he has not actually laid hands on the guns, Nash is confident that he knows where they were manufactured.

The consignment, including several hundred PKM machine guns and RPG-7 rocket launchers, 100 or so Dragunov sniper rifles and over fifty .50 calibre sniper rifles also contains more than 2,500 of the ubiquitous AK assault rifles, described by US forces as Chinese Type 56s.

Nash is adamant that these are likely to be Iranian made KLF rifles, identifying them by certain characteristics. However as to destination it seems likely that the Sunni Muslims of Hamas were not the customer, this would more likely be the Houthi group fighting in Yemen in an increasing civil war of attrition also involving the Saudi – US led coalition.

The danger for any vessels in the area is increasing as time passes, with the recent incident of the US Coast Guard firing at Iranian patrol boats this week added to seemingly tit for tat exchanges in which an Iranian ship, the Saviz, generally thought to be a tactically positioned Iranian military forward observation post, suffered an explosion last month. This following a variety of incidents, the limpet mine attack in 2019, an Israeli car carrier hit earlier this year and other weapons seizures from dhows and the like.

In the Strait of Hormuz, and for the second time in the past month, shots were fired in a clash between US vessels and Iranian naval forces. The US Coast Guard reportedly fired about 30 rounds from a .50 calibre machine gun when a ‘swarm’ of small craft operated by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps came too close to US vessels escorting an Ohio class submarine, the USS Georgia through the Straits.

This is the third encounter between the opposing forces in a 30 day period and in this second firing incident it was reportedly the Island class patrol boat USCGC Maui which opened fire from the flotilla of seven US vessels.

Ed Nash fought alongside the Kurdish YPG in its battle to defeat Isis and published his story of that time in his book Desert Sniper published by Little Brown Books in September 2018.