Costly U.S. Defenses No Match for Yemeni Drones, Missiles
DUBAI (Dispatches) -- Yemeni forces hit a large oil facility in the southern Saudi Arabian city of Jizan in drone and missile attacks overnight, a military spokesman said on Monday.
The announcement came shortly after Saudi Arabia waging a war on Yemen claimed it had intercepted and destroyed some missiles and explosive drones fired over the border towards Saudi Arabia. But there was no Saudi confirmation of where they were intercepted or whether anything was hit.
Oil company Saudi Aramco operates a 400,000-barrel-per-day refinery in the Red Sea city of Jizan, which lies around 60 km (40 miles) from the Yemen border. Aramco declined to comment, in a move typical of the company whenever its facilities have successfully been hit in the past.
"With many drones our armed forces targeted military aircraft, pilot accommodation and Patriot systems in Khamis Mushait, and other military targets at Abha, Jizan and Najran airports,” said Yahya Sarea, the spokesman for Yemen’s armed forces.
"Additionally, the giant oil facility in the Jizan industrial zone. The strike was accurate.”
Sarea said the attacks also killed and injured dozens of ranking military officers in Saudi Arabia.
Khamis Mushait, Abha, Jizan and Najran are all in southwest Saudi Arabia near the Yemen border.
Cross-border reprisal attacks by Yemeni forces have escalated since late May when a truce prompted by the coronavirus pandemic expired. In late June, missiles reached the Saudi capital Riyadh.
The Saudi military, in a statement published by Saudi state news agency SPA, did not say where the objects where intercepted but said the drones had been launched from the Yemeni capital Sanaa towards Saudi Arabia.
The kingdom intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to restore a government headed by former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi who stepped down and then fled to Riyadh in late 2014.
The Yemenis, led by Houthis and their allies in the army who control most large urban centers, say they are fighting a corrupt system propped up by Saudi Arabia.
Sarea said the reprisal attack into Saudi Arabia was a response to Saudi aggression in Yemen, citing as the most recent example an airstrike on Hajjah governorate that Saba news said took place on Sunday and killed 10 civilians.
Humanitarian organizations Oxfam and Save the Children condemned that reported strike and Saudi Arabia on Monday said in a routine statement that its Joint Incident Assessment Team (JIAT) would investigate it.
The reprisal attacks recalled Yemen’s assault on Saudi oil facilities that halved production last September. The United States was quick to blame Iran for that landmark attack, but many analysts believed it was a smart face-saving claim.
Billions of dollars spent by Saudi Arabia on cutting edge Western military hardware mainly designed to deter high altitude attacks have proved no match for low-cost drones and cruise missiles used in the strike that crippled its giant oil industry.
It exposed how ill-prepared the Persian Gulf state is despite repeated reprisal attacks on vital assets during its foray into the war in neighboring Yemen.
The Sept. 14, 2019 assault on two plants belonging to Saudi Aramco was the worst on regional oil facilities since former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein torched Kuwait’s oil wells during the 1990-91 Persian Gulf crisis.
The United Nations has started virtual talks among the warring parties on a permanent ceasefire and confidence-building steps to restart peace negotiations. But discussions have been complicated by the surge in violence since the ceasefire expired.
The Saudi war has killed more than 100,000 people and caused what the United Nations describes as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
This month, the Guardian said Britain is to resume the sales of
arms to Saudi Arabia that could be used in the Yemeni conflict just over a year after the court of appeal ruled them unlawful because ministers had not properly assessed the risk of civilian casualties.
In a written statement, Trade Secretary Liz Truss said sales would restart after an official review concluded there had been only "isolated incidents” of airstrikes in Yemen that breached humanitarian law.
Britain is a major supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia. The leading arms maker, BAE Systems, sold £15billion-worth of arms to the Persian Gulf kingdom over the last five years, principally supplying and maintaining Tornado and Typhoon aircraft used in bombing missions.
Thousands of civilians have been killed since the war in Yemen began in March 2015 with indiscriminate bombing by the Saudi-led coalition that is supplied by western arms makers. The kingdom’s air force is accused of being responsible for many of the 12,600 deaths in targeted attacks.
Last September, the United Nations said the United States, Britain and France may be complicit in war crimes in Yemen by arming and providing intelligence and logistics support to Saudi Arabia that starves civilians as a war tactic.
UN investigators compiled a secret list of possible international war crimes suspects, drawn from their latest report into violations during the war. The report accused the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of killing civilians in airstrikes and deliberately denying them food in a country facing famine.
It found that the Joint Incidents Assessment Team set up by Saudi Arabia to review alleged violations had failed to hold anyone accountable for any strike killing civilians, raising "concerns as to the impartiality of its investigations”.