image Photo: Reuters

Houthis claim attack on Saudi Arabia

The Houthi militia in Yemen said it launched a drone attack on an airport in southern Saudi Arabia – just one day after Riyadh and Washington proposed a new peace initiative for a full ceasefire.

“Our operations will continue as long as the aggression and siege continue,” vowed Houthi Spokesman Yahya Sarea in a Twitter post yesterday.

Kingdom authorities did not immediately confirm an attack on the Abha airport that has frequently be subject to cross-border attacks; nor did the Saudi-led military coalition. that has been battling the Iran-aligned group’s Houthis for the past 6 years.

The coalition intervened in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the internationally-recognized government from power in the capital Sana’a and most of northern Yemen.

The conflict is largely viewed as a proxy regional war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Riyadh accuses Tehran of supplying arms and training to the Houthis, a charge rejected by the Islamic Republic. The Houthis deny being Iranian puppets and assert that they are fighting a corrupt system and foreign aggression.

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.”

The chief negotiator for the Houthis told Reuters that the Riyadh-Washington initiative to reopen the Sanaa airport and Hodeidah port under their control fell short of their demand for a complete lifting of the air and sea blockade, but that the group would continue the Oman-mediated talks in pursuit of a truce.

The Islamist movement has recently stepped up unmanned aerial vehicle and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, including on oil facilities. It has also launched a ground offensive aimed at seizing Yemen’s gas-rich Marib region. The coalition has responded with air strikes on Houthi military sites.