Iran-allied militia threaten to strike Gulf capitals
LONDON - Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi rebels threatened to strike Riyadh and Abu Dhabi with ballistic missiles.
A Houthi spokesman said rebels were in possession of a “stockpile of missiles” that could strike Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the two Gulf states leading the coalition backing the government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, whenever the military command wishes.
“We have aerial photographs and coordinates of dozens of headquarters, facilities and military bases of the enemy,” rebel military spokesman Yahya Saree said in comments carried by the rebels’ Al Masirah television channel on March 16.
“The legitimate targets of our forces extend to the capital of Saudi Arabia and to the emirate of Abu Dhabi,” he said. “We have manufactured advanced generations of attack aircraft and new systems will soon be functional.”
The threats come as the international community and the United Nations scramble to salvage a peace plan, known as Stockholm Agreement, despite the rebels’ violations of a ceasefire in Hodeidah and the Yemeni government threatened to resume military action.
Claims of Iran arming the Houthis are nothing new. A 2015 UN report stated that Iran has been providing weapons to rebels in Yemen since at least 2009, the early years of the insurgency. The report included findings of an investigation into the 2013 seizure by Yemeni authorities of an Iranian ship that was found carrying weapons.
Since the second half of 2017, the Houthis increased their ballistic missile and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capabilities, targeting Saudi Arabia, showcasing an effectiveness the militia did not have at the start of the war.
In December, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley presented the UN Security Council with what she described as irrefutable proof that Iran supplied the Houthis with weapons.
“These are Iranian made, these are Iranian sent and these were Iranian given,” Haley said. “You will see us build a coalition to really push back against Iran and what they’re doing.”
In August 2018, A UN panel provided the Security Council with a report detailing Tehran’s military support for the rebels despite a UN ban.
The document, Agence France-Presse reported, stated that ballistic missiles and drones used by the militia in Yemen “show characteristics similar to weapons systems known to be produced in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
“It seems that despite the targeted arms embargo, the Houthis continue to have access to ballistic missiles and UAVs to continue and possibly intensify their campaign against targets in KSA (Saudi Arabia),” said the report.