Yemen’s Houthis Strike Saudi Airport, Wounding 26 Civilians

Saudi officials vow retaliation, accuse Iran of being behind the attack

Yemen’s Houthi movement has fired a cruise missile against the Abha Airport in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, hitting the airport’s arrivals building, wounding 26 civilians. Abha Airport is in southwestern Saudi Arabia, about 200 km from the Yemeni border.

The Saudi-led coalition, which has been invading Yemen since 2015, declared the attack a probable war crime, vowing retaliation over it. The Houthis confirmed they fired at the airport, claiming to take out the control towers. The Saudis, however, said the airport remains open.

The Houthis have attacked targets in Saudi Arabia a handful of times in the past several months. This number is dwarfed, however, by the massive number of Saudi airstrikes against northern Yemen.

Houthi officials threatened further attacks at other Saudi airports, which they are pushing as retaliation for the Saudi attacks on civilians over the past several years. Saudi threats to retaliation might not mean an escalation in attacks on Yemeni civilians, above and beyond the large number of such attacks that happen regularly.

That’s because Saudi officials are trying to spin the Houthi attack as actually an Iranian attack, claiming the Houthis got the missiles from Iran, and suggesting that Iran ordered the strike. The Houthis have not commented on where the missile came from, and they did have their own stockpile of cruise missiles from the start of the war, and might have a handful left. Iran did not comment at all.

The Saudis have been eager to blame Iran for things going poorly in the Yemen War, and particularly so in recent months, with US-Iran tensions on the rise and a war threatening to erupt. The Saudis likely believe that in pushing the issue they will further egg on the US for preemptive attacks.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.