(New York, N.Y.) – Attacks on Saudi Arabian critical infrastructure and civilians in the region are increasing in frequency as the United States reduces its support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. The Iran-backed Houthis have claimed responsibility for a wave of cross-border attacks, including ballistic missile attacks on an Aramco petroleum distribution center over the weekend. The most recent assaults follow a U.N. investigation that determined the Houthis were responsible for a deadly December 2020 attack on a Yemeni airport, which resulted in the death of at least 22 people. Houthi officials have warned that its strikes would continue. Despite its decreased support for the anti-Houthi coalition, the United States has condemned the Houthi attacks and called for a cessation of violence.
Yemen remains locked in a sectarian civil war between the Houthis, the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC), and the internationally recognized Yemeni government. The Houthis began taking control of parts of the country in mid-2014. In 2015, the threat to the Yemeni government prompted the intervention of a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states, including five Gulf Arab states, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, and Sudan. The ongoing conflict has resulted in the deaths of more than 233,000 people. Almost four million others have been displaced since 2014, according to the United Nations.
Iran’s relationship with the Houthi rebels in Yemen offers Iran a staging ground to attack Saudi Arabia. Since 2015, the Houthis have used Yemeni territory under their control as launching pads to fire more than 100 missiles and drones at the Kingdom. Such strikes have landed on multiple cities, including the Saudi capital of Riyadh. In one of the most serious attacks on the oil giant in recent years, in September 2019, the Houthis knocked out more than half the country’s oil output for days with a missile attack on a refinery.
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