Caught On Video: Houthi Rebels Shoot Down Another Saudi F-15 Fighter Over Yemen

On March 21, the Houthi insurgency in Yemen, also known as the Houthi rebellion, reportedly shot down a Saudi Arabian McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, in the northwestern region of war-torn Yemen, cited Sputnik.

A source within the Yemeni air defenses told Saba News Agency that Houthi rebels launched a surface-to-air missile (SAM), and “managed to hit an F-15 aircraft belonging to the aggression [Saudi Arabia], carrying out criminal and hostile raids over the city of Saada.”

The source confirmed to Saba that Houthi rebels carried out “monitoring and targeting of the aircraft [F-15] with the latest defense technology developed locally successfully.”

This alleged footage had surfaced on social media of the moment when Houthi rebels launched a surface-to-air missile (SAM) — striking the F-15 fighter jet, which caused the warplane to erupt in flames at high altitudes.

Meanwhile, the spokesman of the Saudi Arabian-led coalition forces, Colonel Turki al-Maliki said the warplane was struck at 15:48 local time (1248 GMT) by a surface-to-air missile (SAM) launched from Saada airport camp in Yemen. Al-Maliki noted that the plane received minimal damage from the strike and managed to return to a Saudi Arabian airbase.

Al-Maliki stressed that the surface-to-air missile (SAM) was “not included in the Yemeni government arms arsenal…and that this is another proof of Iranian weapons smuggling to the Shiite rebels in Yemen.”

Three years into the 2015 Saudi-led invasion of Yemen, Iran has long denied smuggling weapons to the Yemeni rebels. According to SouthFront, their team of experts alleges the unidentified warplane was hit by “what appears to be a Soviet-made R-27T missile.”

A video released by the Houthis media wing clearly showed an unidentified warplane being hit by what appears to be a Soviet made R-27T missile. The Saudi-led collation revealed last November that the he Houthis had managed to turn Soviet-made R-27T air-to-air missiles into ground-to-air missiles.

The R-27T is guided by infrared homing, and has the “fire and forget” feature, which makes it easy to convert it into a ground-to-air missile. The R-27T’s range is 70km when it’s launched from air. Nonetheless, the missile will have a shorter range when the missile it is launched from the ground. The Saudi-led coalition has not commented on the incident yet, likely because the warplane managed to return to its home airbase or crashed in an area under the coalition control.

So far in 2018, this is the second time the Houthi rebels have claimed they have struck an F-15 or Saudi Arabian-linked warplane over the skies of Yemen. On Janurary 08, Houthi rebels released dramatic footage of a surface-to-air missile (SAM) downing an F-15 fighter jet, though Saudi media denied the report and said it crashed due to technical problems…

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump commended Saudi Arabia’s defense acquisitions as he met with Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), at the White House — and pushed for even more.

“Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, and they’re going to give the United States some of that wealth, hopefully, in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world,” Trump said.

It has been increasingly evident that U.S. defense sales to Saudi Arabia are a dominant force in allowing the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen to flourish.

As President Trump becomes the most excellent salesman the military-industrial complex has ever seen, perhaps the Saudis should reevaluate their F-15 purchases, as a rogue underfunded rebel group in Yemen has managed to damage two of their American made warplanes in less than three months.

Interesting enough, as we described above, it is possible that a Russian manufactured missile struck an American made fighter jet over the skies of Yemen.

Army Major: “Unmitigated Failure” – Operation Iraqi Freedom, 15 Years Later

Authored by Major Danny Sjursen via AntiWar.com,

After waging an ill-advised war of choice in Iraq, the U.S. military remains ensnared in Greater Mesopotamia…

We were always caught in the middle. We still are.

As a young man, a new lieutenant, and a true believer, I once led a US Army scout platoon just south of Baghdad. It was autumn 2006, and my platoon patrolled – mainly aimlessly – through the streets and surrounding fields of Salman Pak. To our north lay the vast Shia heartland of East Baghdad, to our south and east, the disgruntled and recently disempowered Sunnis of the rural hinterlands. Both sides executed teenagers caught on the wrong side of town, leaving the bodies for us to find. Each side sought to win American favor; both tried to kill us.

It was a battle of attrition; a war for land, yes, but more importantly a war for the mind. Each day, the platoon had the distinct honor to drive our HMMWVs past the impressive ruins of an ancient Persian (Iranian) empire – the Sassanid. Some 1500 years earlier, Salman Pak was known as Ctesiphon and was the populous capital of a powerful civilization. The Iraqi Shia were proud of this past; the local Sunnis were not. Sunni insurgents still called the Shia “Sassanids,” or “Persians,” and they meant it as a pejorative. History was present and alive in Iraq. Still, few of my young soldiers knew – or cared – about any of this. They merely sought survival.

The Sunni fighters, once ascendant under Saddam Hussein’s regime, were backed by Saudi Arabia and other sympathetic Gulf states.

In nighttime raids and daytime searches, we found Saudi “Wahhabi” Islamist propaganda on the floor of car bomb factories. Back then, the local Sunni insurgents called themselves TWJ (Tawhid al Jihad – Monotheism and Holy War). This group, a nonfactor at the time of the 9/11 attacks, would rebrand several times in the ensuing years: Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), and, finally, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The Shia militiamen, JAM (Jaysh al Mahdi – The Mahdi Army), were backed by another regional player: Iran. They utilized their demographic plurality and fought the Sunnis for power in the new, US-imposed Iraqi “democracy;” occasionally, they found time to shatter our HMMWVs (and our bodies) with Iranian supplied explosive penetrators. The US Army battled each side, and feared them both.

Salman Pak, my own little war, was a microcosm of a failed policy. When the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal of neoconservatives (along with a core of complicit “liberals” on Capitol Hill) collaborated to topple Saddam, the US became the proud owner of a fractured, ethno-sectarian basket case. The invasion and occupation of Iraq inserted the US military square in the middle of the ongoing regional proxy war between (Shia) Iran and (Sunni) Saudi Arabia.

Decades earlier, the US had actually backed Saddam’s Iraq in its war with Iran (1980-88), utilizing Iraqi troops as a buffer between the Islamic Republic and the oilfields of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. In March 2003, in the ever-so-euphemistically titled Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF), a war which was never a vital national security interest, the US government placed America’s cherished servicemen squarely in the middle of two nefarious regional competitors.

The story has been told so many times, that the tragedy doesn’t warrant a full recounting. Here’s the short version: poor intelligence and dubious evidence was used by gang of neocon ideologues to sell Americans on the need for regime change in Iraq (a country that had not been involved in the 9/11 attacks). Frightened, naïve, and ill-informed, the American people – and esteemed outlets like the New York Times – went along for the ride. We were told it’d be easy (a “cakewalk”) and self-financing. It was neither.

A civil war broke out. Tens of thousands of civilians and thousands of US troopers died. By the time I arrived, in October 2006, the place was aflame. Fear not, we were told: Bush and his new, brainy general – some Petraeus guy – would “surge” troops and win the day after all. Violence did – briefly – decline; the Iraqi government, however, failed to garner legitimacy. Still, we were told we’d won. The last American soldiers marched out in December 2011. A day later, the Shia prime minister tried to arrest the Sunni vice president. Sectarian relations soured again until a new version of an old group – ISIS – preyed on Sunni resentment and conquered a third of Iraq in 2014. The war hawks – Dems and Republicans – on Capitol Hill squawked, and soon enough US planes, then boots, were back in Iraq.

It has been 15 years since OIF, and there – in Iraq and Syria – US servicemen remain, wedged between Saudi-backed Sunni Islamists, and Iranian-backed Shia militiamen. Some 4500 American soldiers have already died, with upwards of 30,000 more wounded. And, like a bad sitcom, the US military stillspends most of its time fighting spin-off wars (Syria, Iraq 2.0, ISIS, Yemen) of the original Iraq disaster. That ill-fated farce of an invasion either created the conditions, or exacerbated the existing tensions, which inform today’s regional wars.

If bin Laden himself had authored it, he could hardly have written a more dreadful quagmire for the US military. Osama, in fact, didn’t initially expect the Iraq invasion, though once it bogged the Americans down, he labeled that country “a point of attraction and the restorer of our energies.” Chalk up a big V for Al Qaeda. I’m convinced that’s part of the reason there remain so many 9/11 “truthers:” because the “storm” seems so “perfect.” If the goal of the neocons and military-industrial complex was – and I don’t personally subscribe to this – to engulf the US in self-perpetuating forever wars in the Mideast, they sure scripted it perfectly. This is the stuff which feeds conspiratorial thinking.

The “war on terror” – particularly its crown jewel, IRAQI FREEDOM – was, and is, ultimately counterproductive. It makes enemies faster than even the world’s greatest military can kill them. It feeds itself; it morphs; it grows; it, in the prescient words of bin Laden, “restores” Islamist energies.

America, the guileless behemoth, brimming with hubris, somehow cannot seeit. The sheer irrationality of the whole endeavor borders – 15 years later – on the absurd. The only real winners in Iraq have been a chauvinist brand Iranian Shi’ism, and the trademark Wahhabi Sunni Islamism of Saudi Arabia. Neither is a true friend to US interests or values. Neither cares whether US soldiers live or die. Each has its own agenda and plays US policymakers and generals like so many fiddles. The rational move for America is to opt out; do less; and walk away before sinking farther into the next quagmire. Unfortunately, compressed so narrowly between adversarial forces, and obtuse as ever, American “statesman” can’t see the way out.

These wars won’t end well for the United States, just as matters didn’t end well for my platoon, wedged, as it was, between micro-factions of these same adversaries: Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The Sunni precursors of ISIS shot Sergeant Ty Dejane through the spine – he’s still in a wheel chair. The Shia militiamen aligned with Iran exploded a massive bomb which unleashed shrapnel that tore apart three other young men. Sergeant “Ducks” Duzinskas lost most of an arm. Sergeant Alex Fuller and Specialist Mike Balsley lay dead. They never knew what hit them, just as our platoon never knew who, or what, exactly, we were fighting.

My boys were sacrificed on the altar of American hubris. That’s the war I remember, and the one the US still fights – futilely – in the Fertile Crescent. Perhaps the citizenry should ponder that… before the next escalation in Iraq.

PBOC Raises Interest Rate On Open Market Operations

Moments after the Fed did as expected when it raised rates by 25bps, we – along with most other central bank watchers – made a prediction: now it was China’s turn.

And since in recent years, the PBOC has not hiked the main benchmark rate but engaged in “targeted” tightening using the various reverse-repo facilities, we had to wait until today’s open market operation was unveiled.

This was somewhat problematic as the PBOC only did a partial reverse repo, skipping the 14, 28 and 63-day operations, and only injecting liquidity – some 10BN yuan worth – via 7-Day reverse repos (in the process draining 150Bn yuan). Which meant that the only instrument that could see its rate changed today, was the 7-Day RR.

And just like on December 13, hours after the last Fed rate hike, when it hiked the 7-Day reverse repo rate by 5bps from 2.45% to 2.50%, so moments ago the PBOC once again raised the 7-Day repo rate from 2.50% to 2.55%, continuing the tradition of raising reverse repo rates in response to Fed rate hikes.

We expect proportional increases on the other reverse repo – 14, 28 and 63-day – tenors.

Commenting on the move, the PBOC said the rate hike was in line with market expectations, adding that the open market rate hike will “help limit irrational financing and stabilize overall leverage ratio.”

Curiously, even this modest increase came as a surprise to some watchers, who noted that the PBOC no longer needs to follow the Fed moves tick for tick as the recent strength of the yuan means there’s less need to protect the currency. That was the view of Haitong Securities, which ahead of today’s rate hike noted that even if the PBOC raises open market operation rates (which it did), “the scale will be limited and impact on market rates minor because they’ve been a lot higher than official rates.”

Meanwhile, as discussed recently, total social financing growth  continues to decelerate…

… and inflation remains under pressure. And speaking of China’s currency, following today’s dollar plunge, the PBOC predictably fixed the Yuan at 6.3167, some 0.4% stronger vs Wednesday’s 6.3396, the biggest move since February 27.

Followign the rate hike, just like in the US, Chinese shares fell, with the Shanghai Composite falling -0.2%, wiping out an earlier 0.2% gain. If the SHCOMP closes red we wonder if Marko Kolanovic will blame the drop in Chinese stocks on a rogue snowstorm over the Gobi desert.

More California Cities Seek To Defy Sanctuary City Laws Los Alamitos Rebellion

Several California cities are planning to defy Jerry Brown’s “Sanctuary City” laws, following Monday’s decision by the quiet Orange County town of Los Alamitos to disregard several state-wide statutes preventing, among other things, cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities.  

As reported previously, Los Alamitos’ city leadership passed an ordinance 4-1 on Monday, and instructed the city attorney to file an amicus brief in the DOJ lawsuit against California’s Immigrant Worker Protection Act (HB-450), the California Values Act (SB-54), and the Inspection and Review of Facilities Housing Federal Detainees Law (AB-103).

Mayor Troy Edgar joined council members Richard Murphy and Shelly Hasselbrink in support of the new local law – noting that California’s sanctuary law puts them at odds with the U.S. constitution, while councilman Mark Chirco voted against it – suggesting it would lead to litigation.

Following the Monday decision, the Orange County Register reports that several other cities – and in fact the entire county itself, may be on the verge of enacting similar laws to defy the state’s Sanctuary Laws. 

The County of Orange and several cities in Southern California soon might join Los Alamitos in its bid to opt out of a controversial state law that limits cooperation with federal immigration officials.

Officials with the county as well as leaders in Aliso Viejo and Buena Park said Tuesday they plan to push for various versions of the anti-sanctuary ordinance approved in Los Alamitos late Monday by a 4-1 vote of that city council.

Immigration advocates said Los Alamitos and cities and counties that follow its opt-out ordinance will be violating state law and at risk of litigation.

But Los Alamitos’ anti-sanctuary push also received wide attention in conservative media, and gained support from those who don’t agree with California’s protective stance on all immigrants, regardless of legal status.

Of note, while California’s Bay Area and Los Angeles are notably quite liberal, there are conservative enclaves all over the state according to the California Secretary of State (via the Sacramento Bee). 

Voters affiliated with conservative parties outnumber voters affiliated with liberal parties in about 70 of the state’s 200 largest cities and counties. Yorba Linda and Newport Beach are the state’s most conservative cities, with conservative-affiliated voters outnumbering liberal-affiliated voters by a 2-to-1 margin.

Californians affiliated with conservative parties – Republicans, Libertarians and American Independents – today comprise about 25% of the state’s registered voters, according to new data from the California Secretary of State.

State voters affiliated with liberal parties – Democrats, Greens and Peace and Freedom party members – make up about 45% of the electorate. Californians with no party preference comprise 25% of voters and third-party voters make up the other 5%.