Houthis torpedo UN peace efforts with deadly drone attack

“The crime of targeting the base will not go unanswered and the government will take a strong and firm position,” said Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Iriyan.
Sunday 13/01/2019
Soldiers inspect the scene of a Houthi drone attack at Yemeni government military parade in al-Anad air base, Lahaj province, Yemen January 10, 2019. (Reuters)
Soldiers inspect the scene of a Houthi drone attack at Yemeni government military parade in al-Anad air base, Lahaj province, Yemen January 10, 2019. (Reuters)

ADEN - A Houthi rebel drone attack on a Yemeni government military base shattered the peace process, observers said, compromising UN diplomatic efforts and eliminating goodwill generated in December’s talks in Sweden.

Six Yemeni soldiers were killed and several high-ranking officials injured January 10 in a Houthi drone attack on a military base in southern government-controlled Lahij province.

Lahij Governor Ahmed Abdullah al-Turki, Yemeni Chief of Staff Major-General Abdullah al-Nakhi, Brigadier-General Thabet Jawas and spokesman for the Fourth Military Zone Mohammed al-Naqib were injured during the attack, Sky News Arabia reported.

Houthi television channel Al Masirah also confirmed the attack.

The attack came as the United Nations was trying to build on the apparent success of talks last month in Sweden to end the almost 4-year civil war.

The Houthis and the internationally recognised government signed an agreement that included a ceasefire for Hodeidah province; however, fighting between the two sides continued in other parts of the country.

Although the drone attack on Al Anad Airbase did not violate the ceasefire, it could lead to renewed violence that might jeopardise future talks.

“The attack may be the final nail in the coffin of the [Sweden] agreement,” Yemeni military expert Colonel Yahya Abuhatm said.

“There must be a severe response by the national army on various fronts, while also galvanising their political and diplomatic efforts to highlight to the international community the true face of the Houthis,” he added.

“The crime of targeting the base will not go unanswered and the government will take a strong and firm position,” Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Iriyani wrote on Twitter.

Iriyani called on the international community and the UN Security Council to condemn “the terrorist attack” and to take strong action against the Houthis, who

“have become a real threat to regional and international security and maritime trade in the Red Sea.”

Yemeni Minister of State Osman Majali told Sky News Arabia that the attack shows that the Houthis have ended the UN-brokered peace deal.

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths called for restraint after the attack. Griffiths, in a posting on Twitter, said he was alarmed by the escalation of violence and urged “all parties to the conflict to exercise restraint and refrain from further escalation.”

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