News from the Strait of Hormuz and Saudi Arabia

Grind for July 22nd
“There are as many opinions as there are experts.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt

Not Again

The Headline

More drama in the Strait of Hormuz

The Grind

A US Navy warship sailing in the Strait of Hormuz took down an Iranian drone Thursday after the unmanned aircraft approached to within 1,000 yards of the ship.

The drone was “immediately destroyed” after “ignoring multiple calls to stand down,” said President Trump during a flag presentation ceremony at the White House. “This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters.”

It is unclear whether the drone was armed.

The Details

The incident took place one day after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) unveiled a new, hi-tech drone that can carry “precision-guided projectiles.”

Last month, the IRGC shot down an unarmed American drone it claimed was flying in Iranian airspace. US officials said the drone was conducting routine surveillance in international airspace.

At the time, Lt. General Joseph Guastella of US Air Force Central Command described the attack as an attempt to “disrupt our ability to monitor the area following recent threats to international shipping and the free flow of commerce.”

On Sunday, Iran seized a Panamanian-flagged oil tanker it claims was smuggling 264,000 gallons of fuel through the Strait of Hormuz.

US officials have demanded the release of the vessel and its 12 crewmen.

I Don’t Think So

The Headline

House lawmakers block $8 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia

The Grind

House lawmakers on Wednesday approved three resolutions designed to block President Trump from executing an $8 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan.

Administration officials say the deal will help reassure our allies in the Gulf as they face growing aggression from Iran.

Critics oppose the deal based on concerns about human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, and the kingdom’s participation in the war in Yemen.

The three resolutions passed are “most significant” in that they affect weapons that could have been used in Yemen, said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

The deal would have provided the Saudis with GPS-guided “smart bombs” – the same type of weapon that in 2018 was responsible for killing 40 children in Yemen.

The Details

Trump drew up the arms deal in May using an “emergency” loophole that enabled him to circumvent Congress. Senators have already introduced legislation to close that loophole.

On Monday, the House approved a separate measure that seeks to impose sanctions on Saudi officials involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi.

Trump is expected to veto the measures, but it is unclear whether Congress has enough votes to override him. In April, Trump vetoed an attempt to end US military involvement in Yemen.

Did you know… Israel’s Dead Sea is 1,312 feet below sea level