Yemen — Saudi Coalition Thwarts Houthi Attack

  • The coalition had announced earlier the interception and destruction of ballistic missiles and booby trapped drones.
  • The Yemeni Houthi media, through its television station, Al-Masirah, said that the group's militias carried out "broad operation in Saudi Arabia."
  • Saudi Arabia has been subjected to dozens of attacks with ballistic missiles and drones last year.

The Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen announced Tuesday the interception and destruction of booby-trapped drones and ballistic missiles launched by the Houthi rebels into the Kingdom. That including a ballistic missile launched towards the capital, Riyadh, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

The Houthi movement (called Ansar Allah “Supporters of God”), is an Islamic religious-political-armed movement that emerged from Sa’dah in northern Yemen in the 1990s. They are of the Zaidi sect, though the movement reportedly also includes Sunnis.

They quoted a spokesman for the forces of the alliance, Colonel Turki al-Maliki. The coalition had announced earlier the interception and destruction of “8 booby-trapped unmanned aircraft to target civilian objects and civilians in the kingdom,” in addition to “3 ballistic missiles from Saada governorate towards the kingdom.”

Meanwhile, the Yemeni Houthi media, through its television station, Al-Masirah, said that the group’s militias carried out “broad operation in Saudi Arabia.” They indicated that a statement will be issued in “the coming hours to announce about the attack.”

Last week, coalition fighters launched several airstrikes on separate sites in Sanaa, according to news sources quoting local residents. This came a day after the Arab coalition announced the interception and shooting down of a number of “booby-trapped” unmanned drones launched by the Houthi group towards the Saudi Asir region.

Saudi Arabia has been subjected to dozens of attacks with ballistic missiles and drones last year, the most prominent of which was an attack on installations of the Aramco oil company last September, which was claimed by the Houthis.

However, Riyadh doubted this, and held Iran responsible for the attack as a Houthi supporter.  A few days after the attack on Aramco, the Houthi rebels suddenly launched a “peace initiative” by declaring an end to the attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Yemen has been experiencing an armed struggle for power since 2014, when the Houthi rebels took control of Sanaa, and rushed to other areas. The fight escalated, with Saudi intervention at the head of an “Arab military alliance,” in support of the government to stop the advance of Iranian-backed Houthis.

As the war between the two parties entered its fifth year, the number of civilian casualties is increasing in this poor country, amid a collapse of its health sector and an acute shortage of medicines. This comes in light of the spread of epidemics, including the emerging coronavirus and cholera, in addition to the specter of starvation that haunts Yemen.

Saudi Interests

The Yemeni Civil War is an ongoing conflict that began in 2015 between two factions: the Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi-led Yemeni government and the Houthi armed movement, along with their supporters and allies. Both claim to constitute the official government of Yemen.

There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia has several motives to sponsor the Yemeni talks. The former Saudi ambassador to Washington, Turki bin Faisal, admitted at the beginning of November last year, in an interview with reporters, that the reputation of his country had been damaged.

“It seems that events such as the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi leave their grim mark on the kingdom, and we are the first people to suffer from that,” the former diplomat explained.

Even the military commitment in Yemen, along with President Mansour Hadi, has damaged the reputation of Saudi Arabia, especially given a large number of victims. So far, more than 100,000 people have died in the conflict that has lasted for four and a half years, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

This number also includes 12,000 civilians, who were killed in indirect attacks. Even due to the catastrophic humanitarian toll of the war, criticism of Saudi Arabia in the American Congress has increased recently. Therefore, mediation in Yemen may be a step towards improving the Kingdom’s reputation.

However, Saudi Arabia is not only a mediator, but it is also a party to the Yemen war. Mediating a resolution in the conflict that has arisen in southern Yemen, and strengthening internal unit,y may contribute to strengthening the common front against the Houthis.

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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