image Photo: Reuters

Greece to supply Saudis with Patriots

Greece is going to transfer a Patriot anti-missile defense system to Saudi Arabia for the protection of the Kingdom’s critical energy facilities.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias announced the decision in a press release, following an earlier meeting with Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh on Tuesday.

“We signed an agreement to move a Patriot battery here in Saudi Arabia,” Dendias said, adding that he also signed a cooperation agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“This is a big step forward for our country regarding the cooperation with the Gulf countries and also a contribution to the wider security of the energy sources for the West,” he stated.

The United States’-produced Patriot system is designed mainly to counter high-altitude ballistic missile strikes, which the Saudis are routinely subject to by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in  neighboring Yemen.

A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 after the country’s government was ousted from the capital Sana’a by the Islamist Houthis, who have stepped up drone and missile attacks on Saudi targets in recent weeks.

Iran’s support to the Houthis is quite significant, and it’s lethal,” US Special Envoy on Yemen Tim Lenderking told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday, while describing the current battle for Yemen’s gas-rich Marib region the single biggest threat to peace efforts in the war torn country.

Lenderking told American lawmakers that Iran supports the Houthis in several ways including through training, providing lethal support and helping them “fine tune” their drone and missile programs.

“Unfortunately, all of this is working to very strong effects as we see more and more attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – and potentially other countries – more accuracy and more lethality. So, this is a great concern to us,” Lenderking said.

The official name of the Houthi forces is “Ansar Allah,” meaning “Allah’s Supporters” in Arabic. The armed Islamist political movement formed in northern Yemen during the 1990s. Both they and Iran are followers of Shi’ite Islam, as is Tehran’s other proxy militia, the Hezbollah terror group. The Houthis slogan since 2003 has been “Allah is great, death to the US, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam.”

Yemen is struggling with what the United Nations has described as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 80% of the 30,490,640 population in need.