Iran-backed Houthi missiles


The launching of ballistic missiles on Saudi cities by Houthi militias is not unprecedented, as they did not spare even the holiest and most sacred place on earth, Makkah, from their attacks last June. Although Saudi defence forces have thankfully been able to intercept all the missiles, the latest attempt to target Riyadh on November 4 represents a serious development in the war in Yemen. As the backer and the guarantor of these militias, Iran has crossed every red line in the conflict with Saudi Arabia in particular and with the countries of the region in general.

Providing an out-of-state terrorist group with ballistic missiles is a serious issue that is contributing to the continuation of the conflict and hindering a political settlement of the crisis. It is also a serious threat to neighbouring countries and to the region. Had the Iranian regime not supported the Houthis, Saudi Arabia would never have been targeted. Moreover, these weapons can be transferred to other terrorist groups in areas of conflict, thereby increasing the frequency of terrorist attacks.

In addition, providing Houthi militias with these missiles is a continuation of the explicit violation of Security Council resolution 2216, which prohibits the arming of Houthi militias. With disrespect for the international system, this terrorist group has gone too far because it feels that there is no deterrent. Even the United Nations has recently been prejudiced through reports containing many fallacies and contradictions, equating the legitimate and the internationally recognized government forces and leadership representing Yemen and the Yemeni people with an out-of-state armed militia that overturned the legitimate government. The most striking evidence of this is the recent UN report, which in criticizing the international coalition seems to have forgotten that the participation of the coalition came in response to the request of the legitimate government and in implementation of UN resolution 2216.

Likewise, continuously supplying Houthis with Iranian-made strategic weapons, which many reports confirm to be smuggled to the militias through the port of Hodeida, is a serious threat to freedom of navigation in the strategic Strait of Bab Al-Mandeb. Commercial vessels and oil tankers in the Red Sea may be targeted and ports may be closed. Bab Al-Mandeb is a strategic strait for international trade linking the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean. It is a busy corridor for oil transportation in the Middle East and elsewhere. Over 60 commercial vessels as well as millions of barrels of oil cross the strait every day.

Finally, the International Community must accelerate measures to put an end to the crisis in Yemen in accordance with the Gulf initiative, the decisions of the national dialogue and the resolutions of international legitimacy. It has to hold Iran accountable for its violations of international resolutions and its destabilizing behavior.

Moreover, according to the statement of the Arab Coalition for the Support of Legitimacy in Yemen, Saudi Arabia has the right to defend its land and its people at a time it deems appropriate, which is guaranteed by international law and accords with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations.

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Othaimin is a Middle East affairs specialist and security analyst based in Riyadh. He can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter @Alothaimin