The US reaffirmed its “unwavering” commitment to Saudi Arabia’s security after Yemen’s Houthis launched an attack against oil infrastructure inside the kingdom, a response to the Saudi airstrikes that have been pounding Yemen.
“The US Embassy condemns the recent Houthi attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the US embassy in Saudi Arabia tweeted in Arabic on Monday. “Our commitment to defend the Kingdom and its security is unwavering,” the embassy added.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki made similar comments to reporters. “We will look for ways to improve support for Saudi Arabia’s ability to defend its territory against threats,” she said.
The Houthis have stepped up attacks inside Saudi territory in response to the air support Saudi Arabia has given to the US and Saudi-backed government during the fighting that has been raging in Maarib province, the last government stronghold in northern Yemen. Hundreds of Houthi fighters have been killed by airstrikes in recent weeks. On Sunday, the Saudis bombed Yemen’s capital Sanaa.
The uptick in violence comes as the Biden administration says it is working to end the war in Yemen. President Biden said he was ending US support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen, leaving open military support for Riyadh if it can be framed as defensive in nature. It’s not clear if the US has supplied intelligence or other support for recent Saudi airstrikes.
In February, the Houthis offered to halt drone and missile attacks inside Saudi Arabia in exchange for an end to Saudi airstrikes in Yemen. But the Saudis continue to support the government of exiled President Hadi with air power.
Despite the fact that the US-backed Saudi-led coalition has been waging a vicious bombing campaign in Yemen, US officials and politicians still act surprised when the Houthis launch attacks inside Saudi territory.
Iran is also frequently blamed by the US for Houthi attacks. While it’s true Iran supports the Houthis politically, not much is known about the extent of military support Iran provides the group, but this does not stop the US from hurling accusations at Tehran. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) somehow blamed President Biden’s unfulfilled plan to revive the Iran nuclear deal as the reason for the recent Houthi attacks.
“Yet another missile strike against Saudi Arabia today with all the hallmarks of an Iranian-backed attack,” Hagerty wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “It seems Biden’s desire to give Tehran sanctions relief is emboldening the mullahs to escalate their aggression against us and our allies.”
Like other accusations about Iran and Yemen, Hagerty’s claim ignores the brutality of the US-backed Saudi-led war that the Houthis are responding to with these attacks. The US-supported bombing campaign and blockade on Yemen has left millions of Yemenis facing starvation. The UN said if conditions on the ground do not change, 400,000 Yemeni children could starve to death in 2021 alone.