Saudis’ Costly Air Defense Unable to Defend Against Yemen’s Drones

Yemen's Houthis see drones as defiance of years of Saudi strikes

Saturday’s drone attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure did some financial damage, but for Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthi movement, which is taking credit, they see it as more meaningful than just a one-off strike.

After 4+ years of Saudi airstrikes on north Yemen, they see it as a symbol of their continued defiance. Many Houthis see their ability to not just survive the Saudi war but start to strike back as a testament to their resistance of the invasion.

So while the US is trying to pin the attack on Iran, Houthis are proudly painting “Made in Yemen” on the drones, and promising that there will be more like that in the future, so long as the war continues.

That could be a problem for the Saudis, who despite the world’s third largest military budget and a lot of US-provided air defenses seem to be woefully incapable of downing either drones or a lot of the missiles fired from Yemen.

There seems to be no obvious immediate solution for the Saudis, and so long as they continue to attack Yemen, the Houthis are going to be hitting back. This could be bad news for the Saudis, who’ve destroyed much of northern Yemen at this point but who have a lot of valuable infrastructure targets in range of the drones.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of