Intelligence War in the Red Sea

Sheba Intelligence | 2023-12-07 11:40 AM UTC


A source from the Houthi group said Saudi Arabia is opposing American moves to reclassify the Houthis as a terrorist group at present. The source told Sheba Intelligence, "Saudi Arabia is worried about the impact of the reclassification on peace efforts that have reached an advanced stage to stop the war in Yemen."

The source indicated that Riyadh advised Washington to resolve the issue of the rising attacks on ships in the Red Sea through dialogue, away from any security or military escalation that would explode the situation in the region and return the Houthis to war again.


The intelligence war

The pace of the information war between American and Iranian intelligence in the Red Sea has escalated recently after the Houthis kidnapped Israeli ships and threatened American and British ships in the international shipping lanes.

A Yemeni intelligence source said that the US Central Intelligence Agency requested information from the Yemeni government about Iran's support mechanism for the Houthis with advanced weapons and the routes for transporting, smuggling, shipping and storing ballistic missiles and drones from Iran to Yemen.

The source pointed out that the Americans also requested the Yemeni government to provide any information it knows about the electronic components in the missiles and drones and how the Houthis monitored their targets over the past years.

Military attaches of the US and British embassies met with officials in the Yemeni Ministry of Defense in Riyadh several times in November.

According to the Yemeni source, the discussion focused on recent developments as the Americans and the British attempted to know the size of the Houthis' arsenal of ballistic and smart surface-to-surface and surface-to-sea missiles, Suicide drones, and the group's tactical capabilities and information about how these weapons reached the group.

The discussion also included the armed and training capabilities of the Yemeni Navy, the deployment of forces on the Yemeni islands, and the conduct of operations, especially in the Red Sea.

The source indicated that the visit of Presidential Leadership Council member Tareq Saleh to Djibouti at the end of November, accompanied by a security teamunder the leadership of the former National Security Agency Undersecretary, his brother Ammar Saleh, was related to discussing this file. Saleh was expected to meet with American military and intelligence leaders to discuss the capabilities of his UAE-backed forces in maintaining security in Bab al-Mandab and international shipping lanes.

The government Saba News Agency said that Saleh discussed with the President of Djibouti "ways to enhance and develop joint work between Yemen, Djibouti, and the countries of the Horn of Africa overlooking the Red Sea, in light of the growing threats to international navigation."

Ammar Saleh leads a new intelligence force known as Force 400 and has an office in the Horn of Africa in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Baba, from which he manages the process of restoring the capabilities of the Yemen's former intelligence service, which the Houthis took control of and transferred its entire archive to Iran.


Houthis and Unit 340 of the Quds Force

A source in an intelligence agency in a Gulf country confirmed to Sheba Intelligence that Americans requested information about the smuggling routes of Iranian missiles and drones to Yemen and the role of the region's countries in the smuggling.

He Pointed out that there has been an examination and scrutiny by the Americans and Israelis of the missile attacks carried out by the Houthis from the Red Sea on southern Israel since October.

The source said, "The focus is on the extent of the Houthis' connection with Unit 340 of the Quds Force and the Revolutionary Guard, which supplies Iran's allies in the region with weapons."

The work of Unit 340 is responsible for securing arms transfer routes to Iranian loyalists in the Middle East through the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, including the Palestinian resistance, the Houthis in Yemen, and Hezbollah in Lebanon.


Iranian ships in the Red Sea provide Houthis with logistical support

On the other hand, it seems that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard wants more information about activities in the Red Sea to support the Houthis and "The Axis of Resistance". US intelligence informed its allies in the Gulf that last week that Iran sent three commercial ships to the Red Sea. The first is a cargo carrier converted to carry out reconnaissance missions, the second is a  support ship, and the third is a container ship. According to sources, these three ships carry out the mission of logistical support for the Houthis and provide them with the intelligence information they need about Israeli or American targets in the Red Sea.

This means there are four Iranian ships in the Red Sea, including the "Behshad" ship, which is used as a spy base and has been operating since 2021 off the Eritrean Dahlak Archipelago. It arrived there as a replacement for the Saviz, a ship that was used as a spy base and was damaged in an attack attributed to Israel.

The sources said that since the Houthis kidnapped the Galaxy Leader cargo ship on November 19, the Mossad and Shin Bet have raised questions with regional intelligence services about the role of Behshad in supporting the Houthis logistically and how the Houthis obtained intelligence information about the ownership of the targeted ship and selected it among dozens of cargo ships that pass off Yemen daily.

According to Sheba Intelligence sources, the Israelis shared information with Gulf security services, including their confirmation that Galaxy Leader had stopped its navigation indicators several hours before the Houthi attack and passed next to Behshad, which has advanced navigation devices. This same thing happened when the Houthis attacked on Sunday on three ships crossing the Bab al-Mandab Strait. Though the navigation indicators of the ships were closed, the vessels received direct warning messages from the Houthis and were then attacked.

The source calculated that Iran's sending of the three ships to provide logistical support to the Houthis in the Red Sea came at the request of the group's representatives during a meeting last month with Iranian officials and leaders of the Revolutionary Guard in Tehran.