Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Claim Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities

  • Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attacks, and have threatened to expand the scope of attacks against Saudi Arabia.
  • Last month, Houthi fighters were blamed by Saudi Arabia for drone strikes on liquified natural gas installations in Sheba and other oil installations in May.
  • Yemen has been at war since 2015, which has turned into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Saudi Arabia’s state-run media reports that the country’s largest oil company, Aramco, has caught fire after drone strikes in two major oil installations. Another drone strike also set fire to the Khurais oil field on the west side. However, the Saudi Press Agency says the fire has now been controlled in both installations.

The Houthi movement, officially called Ansar Allah, is an Islamic religious-political-armed movement that emerged from Sa’dah in northern Yemen in the 1990s. The Houthis took part in the 2011 Yemeni Revolution, and, in 2015, Houthis took over the government in Sanaʽa with the help of the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

They did not say who might be behind the latest attacks. Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they used drones to attack the world’s largest oil refinery in eastern Saudi Arabia, after which a fire broke out. The Houthis say they have sent 10 drones to attack the precise plant and the Khurais oil field. Also, Houthi rebels have threatened to expand the scope of attacks against Saudi Arabia. Previous attacks were also blamed on Iranian-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen.

The Saudi Press Agency said, “at 04:00 (01:00 GMT), the industrial security teams of Aramco started dealing with fires at two of its facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais as a result of… drones.” Then, within a few hours, the agency declared, “the two fires have been controlled.”

Abqaiq is 60 km southwest of the city of Zahran in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, and 200 km further southwest is the country’s second-largest oil field in Khyber. Saudi security forces foiled al-Qaeda’s attempt to attack Abqaiq’s oil installations in 2006.

Who is behind the attacks?

Last month, Houthi fighters were blamed by Saudi Arabia for drone strikes on liquified natural gas installations in Sheba and other oil installations in May. The Iranian-backed rebel movement is fighting against the Yemeni government backed by the Saudis.

Yemen has been at war since 2015 when President Abdurrahman Mansour Hadi was forced by the Houthis to flee the capital Sanaa. Saudi Arabia supports President Hadi and has led a coalition of regional countries against insurgents. The coalition conducts airstrikes almost daily, while the Houthis often fire missiles in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Aramco, officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, is a Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest companies in the world by revenue, and according to accounts seen by Bloomberg News, the most profitable company in the world.

There are other sources of tension in the region, however, and are often the result of hostility between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Both Saudi Arabia and the United States accuse Iran of attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf in June and July.

Tehran has denied the allegations.

In May, four tankers, including two Saudi flagship tankers, were hit by explosives off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf of Oman. Saudi Arabia, and then-US National Security Adviser, John Bolton, blamed Iran. However, Tehran claimed the allegations were “ridiculous.”

Tensions on the main naval routes escalated in June when Iran hit an American spy drone over the Strait of Hormuz. A month later, the US Department of Defense announced that it would deploy troops to Saudi Arabia.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.


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