Falling debris kills Egyptian – Amir condemns attacks – Yemenis stage rally
RIYADH: A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia yesterday threatened retaliation against Iran, accusing it of being behind a barrage of Yemeni rebel missile attacks on the kingdom. Saudi forces said they intercepted seven missiles on Sunday, including over the capital Riyadh, in a deadly escalation that coincided with the third anniversary of the coalition’s intervention in Yemen.
Displaying wreckage at a news conference in Riyadh of what it said were fragments of those missiles, the coalition claimed forensic analysis showed they were supplied to Houthi rebels by their ally Iran. We “reserve the right to respond against Iran at the right time and right place”, coalition spokesman Turki Al-Malki told reporters.
The missile strikes resulted in the first reported fatality from Houthi fire in the Saudi capital. Egyptian national Abdul-Moteleb Ahmed, 38, died instantly in his bed when what appeared to be burning shrapnel struck his ramshackle room in Riyadh’s Um al-Hammam district, leaving a gaping hole in the roof, witnesses told AFP at the site. Three other Egyptian laborers in the same room were wounded and hospitalized, they said. The Houthis said on their Al-Masirah television that Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport was among the targets.
Malki alleged the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Sanaa were using the airport there to launch missiles on Saudi territory, adding the coalition had targeted a “missiles shipment” at the facility. Iran has repeatedly rejected claims it is arming the rebels. A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen on March 26, 2015 to try to restore the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Houthis and their allies took over large parts of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah strongly denounced the missile attacks on Saudi Arabia. This hostile act violates all international norms, values and principles, the Amir said in cable sent to King Salman Sunday evening.
He reaffirmed Kuwait’s solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and support of all measures it takes to maintain its security. He prayed to Almighty God to protect the brotherly kingdom and its people against all evils. He also wished Saudi people everlasting security, safety and prosperity under the wise leadership of King Salman. HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah sent similar cables to King Salman.
Sheikh Jaber yesterday expressed his deep satisfaction at the success of the Saudi air defense forces in foiling the missile attacks carried out by the Houthi militia. In a statement, he expressed Kuwait’s condemnation and rejection of these Houthi criminal acts that threaten regional and international security. He also called on the international community, in particular the Security Council, to take immediate and serious action to put an end to these despicable criminal acts. The prime minister affirmed the confidence of Saudi Arabia and its ability to confront these criminals and preserve the security and the safety of the brotherly people of the kingdom. He reiterated Kuwait’s solidarity with its brothers in Saudi Arabia and its support of all measures taken to protect its security and stability under the wise leadership of King Salman
An official source at Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry also firmly denounced the missile attacks. Kuwait followed with full dismay and condemnation the news about missile attacks on Saudi Arabia which terrorized innocent people, the source said. The source reiterated Kuwait’s total denunciation of these attacks, which showed the Houthis’ rejection of peace and the will of the international community to put an end to the conflict in Yemen as well as its aim to undermine all chances of peace. The source urged the international community, especially the UN Security Council, to take immediate action to stop such attacks. The source affirmed that these actions will not undermine the determination of the brothers in Saudi Arabia in maintaining its security and stability as well as the safety of its people.
Hours after the missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, hundreds of thousands of Houthi rebel supporters flooded the streets of Yemen’s capital yesterday to mark three years of war. Sanaa’s Sabaeen Square was a sea of Yemeni flags as rebel authorities ordered all schools and government offices shut for the anniversary. Houthi supporters carried portraits of rebel chief Abdulmalik Al-Houthi and speakers blasted out a fiery speech by Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah Shiite movement, praising the “steadfastness” of the Yemeni people.
War songs, poems and speeches condemning the United States, the main arms supplier for the Saudi-led coalition, echoed across the square. “No one can speak on behalf of the Yemeni people. The people taking to the streets today are the real voice,” Ibtisam Al-Mutawakel, head of a Houthi cultural committee, told AFP. About 10,000 Yemenis have been killed and 53,000 wounded since the start of the coalition intervention in Yemen, which triggered what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Despite the intervention the rebels remain in control of the capital, northern Yemen and the country’s largest port.
Amnesty International, which has criticized both sides in the Yemen war for neglecting civilian safety, yesterday said the “indiscriminate” Houthi missile attack “could constitute a war crime”. Britain urged Iran to “stop sending in weapons which prolong the conflict”, while Tehran accused London – a key arms supplier for Saudi Arabia – of hypocrisy. The US State Department said Washington would support the Saudis’ “right to defend their borders against these threats”.
Rebel leaders have sought to highlight the role of the United States in the Saudi-led intervention. At Monday’s rally, Saleh Al-Sammad, head of the rebels’ Supreme Political Council, said the rebels were “ready to reach an understanding” to end the intervention and the coalition’s blockade of Yemen. “It is the Americans who are directing this aggression and participating directly on a number of fronts,” Sammad told the rally.
The Hadi government, for its part, said yesterday that the overnight attacks on Saudi Arabia amounted to “an open rejection of peace”. The US Senate last week rejected a bipartisan bid to end American involvement in Yemen’s war, voting down a rare effort to overrule presidential military authorization. The US has provided weapons, intelligence and aerial refuelling to the Saudi-led coalition. Washington formally approved defense contracts worth more than $1 billion with Riyadh last Thursday during a high-profile visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. – Agencies