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Sudden Houthi threat to resume attacks on Saudi Arabia and UAE

December 31, 2019 at 1:59 am

Houthis in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, on 21 September 2019 [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

Brigadier General Yahya Saree, the military spokesman for the behalf of the forces of Houthi movement Ansar Allah and their allies, has threatened to expand the scope of these forces’ military targets.

This expansion would include six critical targets in Saudi Arabia and three others in the UAE.  At first glance, this threat implies that the secret negotiations that started in September may have reached a deadlock.

Likely, Brigadier General Saree will not disclose these targets. Nonetheless, Ansar Allah has previously targeted airports and oil facilities.

The movement launched the three attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities. First by striking east-west pipelines near Riyadh, then oil refineries in the Shaybah field in the Empty Quarter, and finally essential Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais as well as refineries and separators. These attacks have changed the balance of power in the Yemen war and exposed Saudi Arabia’s weakness.

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The use of 25 cruise missiles and a drone to hit Aramco installations in Abqaiq and Khurais was a critical event in 2019. This was because the attack prompted Saudi Arabia to speak directly to the Houthi movement, Ansar Allah, and to recognise it as a legitimate force to be reconned with.

We do not know the target of the next attack if it is ordered. The Houthi leadership has made us and others used to surprises, and it is more likely that the next attack will be more dangerous than the attack on the artery of the oil industry in Abqaiq; an attack that reduced Saudi Arabia’s oil production by half.

This can also be said about the three UAE targets. The element of surprise here may be more significant, for a simple reason that the Houthis have not targeted the UAE and its vital installations with any attacks in the past. It is thus more likely that the oil refineries, and perhaps the water and electricity stations and airports will be among the targets.

Several questions arise:

What are the reasons for the announcement of these threats? Have the Houthis had enough of the “manoeuvres” of the two coalition sides in the Yemen war?

Have the Houthis made demands during the secret negotiations that Saudi Arabia and the UAE rejected?

Is there a plan for the axis of the Iranian-Lebanese-Iraqi-Syrian resistance to fuel all fronts with the advance of the new year?

We do not have answers, but they must be taken very seriously.