Yemen’s Houthis Hit Saudi Airport: Killing One, Wounding Twenty-One           

Yemen’s Houthis hit a Saudi Arabian airport, killing one and wounding 21 others. According to Houthi-run news channel Al-Masirah TV, the attack occurred in Abha airport in Saudi Arabia and was the target of a Yemeni Houthi drone attack. The attack is among a long list of violent Yemeni-Saudi interactions that have been prevalent since the rise of Houthi power in Yemen in 2014. 

The conflict in Yemen started in 2014 when Yemen’s capital Sanaa was taken over by Houthi rebels, who claimed control of the Yemeni government. The Houthis are a Shia group backed by Iran. Many suspect that Iran has been giving the Houthis weapons for the attacks, although both Iran and Yemen have denied these claims. The Houthi government in Yemen is not recognized internationally, and Sunni countries in the Middle East, along with Western countries and the UN have become involved in an attempt to restore peace and order in the country through restoring the former president. Yemen is currently one undergoing of the worlds biggest humanitarian crises, as many civilians are struck by poverty, medical issues and an ongoing war in their country.

Sunni identifying countries within the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have allied with the United States and Britain in an effort to end the conflict through returning the capital and all land under Houthi control back to the former government, with Western powers backing Saudi troops fighting in Yemen against the Houthis. The Saudi coalition’s campaign of air raids has devastated Houthi positions, ammunition depots, and bases, but largely failed to regain Yemeni capital Sanaa. Saudi involvement in Yemen has led to attacks against Saudi Arabia like the Abha airport attack.  

The airport attack in Abha, Saudi Arabia was announced to be a drone strike and celebrated on Houthi run media outlets. According to Reuters, Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia have been escalating as tensions between Iran and Western-backed Gulf states rise.         

 According to The Tower, Col Maliki, a Coalition spokesperson claimed that the Houthi group has “continued its immoral practices by targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure protected under international humanitarian law and its customary rules”, and that the attack could amount to a war crime. 

A Houthi spokesman also responded to the attack, stating “More painful operations will continue if the Saudi-led aggression and siege against Yemen continue.”

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country “strongly condemns this terrorist act and labels it as new evidence of the Iranian-backed Houthi militias’ hostile and terrorist tendencies to undermine security and stability in the region.”

The Houthi attack against the Saudi Arabian airport is cause for concern, as it escalates the already prevalent violence in the area. Both sides are using violence and force to enact change, which is harming civilians living in Yemen and contributing to the growing humanitarian crisis happening in the country. The Houthi attack against Saudi Arabia does not contribute to restoring peace in the area and instead provokes more violence.                              

According to Reuters, escalation in violence like the airport attack threatens a U.N.-sponsored deal for a ceasefire and troop withdrawal from Hodeidah, which became the focus of the war last year when the coalition tried to seize the port, the Houthis’ main supply line and a lifeline for millions of Yemenis. Continuing attacks could lead to a stalling of peace talks that the UN has been facilitating between the countries, and without the UN resolution, a peaceful solution and end to the war will be difficult to achieve. Additionally, the escalation in violence between the two sides is incredibly concerning for the civilians living inside Houthi controlled Yemen, and continued violence will inevitably affect the growing humanitarian crisis the country is undergoing. 

Bella Kocabiyik