Iran Upgrades Scuds for Houthi Barrage against Riyadh

At the Al Ghadi base in Big Ganesh, 48 km west of Tehran, Iranian engineers and technicians are working around the clock on their next big clandestine project in a densely-built area – shown in past photographs to be crammed with bunkers. If this project, dubbed Riyadh First, is a success, it is capable of igniting the next major Middle East convulsion – or even a US-Iranian clash of arms.
According to the information reaching DEBKA Weekly’s exclusive military and intelligence sources, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani instructed Iranian missile designer teams to tag an extra 100km onto the intermediate range of the Scud-C (600km) and Scud-D (700km) surface missiles to enable them to reach the Saudi capital and explode in the center of Riyadh.
This plan was behind the threat made by IRGC Air Force Commander Gen. Amir Ali Hazjizadeh on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the start of an Iranian military exercise: “Should the enemy make a mistake, our roaring missiles will rain down on them,” he said.
This general, who is in charge of the missile testing site, ordered all other work halted in order to concentrate on the fast-track Riyadh First Scud development project.
Social media reported that the Iranian-sponsored Yemeni Houthi rebels had on Feb. 4 fired a missile at the Saudi al-Mazahimiyah military camp west of Riyadh. The Houthis claimed it was a homemade Borkan which has a range of 800km.
According to our military sources, the Houthis don’t possess a missile of that range and their attack was in fact the first test of the newly-extended Iranian Scud, as a dress rehearsal for the real strike. .
The Iranian general indicated that Tehran is waiting for the first Saudis “mistake” before letting loose with a multiple missile attack on their capital.
There are precedents. The Hizballah missile blitz on Haifa during the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese war and the Hamas rocket fire against two Israeli cities, Beersheba and Tel Aviv during Israel’s 2014 campaign in the Gaza Strip.
Tehran is contemplating action against Riyadh that would be similar but on a far larger scale, due to six considerations:
1. Iran can’t afford to continue holding up two simultaneous fronts in Syria and Yemen and must choose from which to pull back.
2. Confronted in Syria by the superpowers, the US and Russia, Iran’s rulers see they are on a losing pitch and must either throw in the sponge or drastically shrink their presence there. In Yemen, in contrast, Iranian strategists trust in a Houthi victory to put Iran ahead of Saudi Arabia.
3. They estimate that the Saudi army is on the verge of defeat in Yemen, a view shared secretly by most Gulf rulers. Iran calculates that a missile barrage on Riyadh would tip the scales. The Saudi army would be compelled to withdraw from Yemen “to defend the home front” and the royal house be shaken to its core.
4. Tehran calculates that Saudi Arabia lacks the defense systems for intercepting the upgraded Scuds, and its army is short of the manpower for standing up to aggression, certainly for retaliating against Iran.
5. The Iranians do not foresee President Donald Trump coming to Saudi Arabia’s aid or sending troops to intervene in an Iranian-Saudi conflict. They expect the US army to be up over its head in the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
6. And chances are slim of Israel sending its army to defend Saudi Arabia or its capital against attack.

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