Posted on September 18, 2019
Both the United States and the Saudi authorities say this may well have been the case.
The offensive use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has grown significantly in recent years, and nowhere more so than in the Middle East.
So who has them and who has used them in combat?
The first combat use of an armed drone came in October 2001, on the first night of the Afghan War against a Taliban convoy. Armed UAVs were initially the preserve of a few technologically advanced nations, with Israel and the United States very much in the lead.
Soon a new provider came onto the scene – China, eager to sell its weaponry around the world.
The Chinese have boosted the spread of military drones in the Middle East, selling weaponry to at least half a dozen governments.
The civilian UAV market has also become more sophisticated, and the technology has been converted into combat drones.
While the technology might not be cutting edge, highly capable UAVs can be manufactured by any country with a reasonable industrial base – Iran being a good case in point.
And Iran has played a key role in transferring relatively advanced drone technology to several non-state actors, such as the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The Middle East is one of the epicentres of the war on terror. It has drawn in technologically advanced players like the United States, Britain and Russia.
There is a host of regional rivalries. The most pronounced fault-line is between Israel and the Gulf Arab states on the one hand, and Iran, its allies and proxies like Hezbollah and the Houthis, on the other.