Riyadh and its allies have been at war with the Houthi (Ansar Allah) movement since March 2015, and despite vast military and technological superiority, have so far failed to dislodge the Shiite militia from its strongholds in west Yemen. In recent years, the Houthis have lobbed hundreds of ballistic missiles and bomb-laden drones at Saudi Arabia.
Saudi coalition forces have destroyed a Houthi drone launched toward the kingdom’s southern region, Saudi state television has reported.
Coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki confirmed that a “booby-trapped” drone said to be targeting civilians and civilian objects had been intercepted and destroyed.
Al-Maliki said the coalition was monitoring for hostile activity by the Houthis using such booby-trapped drones, and was taking the measures necessary to neutralize the threats.
Houthi drone and missile attacks are a common occurrence in Saudi Arabia’s southern regions, with the militia targeting military infrastructure and bases, airports, oil infrastructure, missile defences, and cities. On Tuesday, the coalition released a clip allegedly showing the moment of interception and destruction of an explosive-laden drone targeting the kingdom.
#فيديو| قيادة القوات المشتركة للتحالف تعرض لقطات من اعتراض وتدمير طائرة بدون طيار “مفخخة” والتي أطلقتها المليشيا الحوثية الإرهابية المدعومة من إيران اليوم الثلاثاء باتجاه المملكة لاستهداف المدنيين والأعيان المدنية بطريقة ممنهجة ومتعمدة.#واس_عام pic.twitter.com/N80m11H0ZD
— واس العام (@SPAregions) March 2, 2021
Tweet reads: “Joint Forces Command of the Coalition displays footage of the interception and destruction of a booby-trapped drone, which was launched by the Iranian-backed terrorist Houthi militia today, Tuesday, toward the Kingdom to target civilians and civilian objects in a systematic and deliberate manner.”
The Houthis aren’t the only side that uses drones. On Monday, the militia reported intercepting and taking down an unmanned aerial vehicle belonging to the Saudi-led coalition over the Red Sea-bordering region of al-Hudaydah. The coalition is known to use Chinese-made CH-4 drones in Yemen, with the armed UAVs capable of carrying up to six missiles and a payload of up to 250-345 kg, and able to remain airborne for up to 40 hours at a time.
— That’s Enough (@Thatsenough0) March 3, 2021
Saudi Arabia and half-a-dozen other mostly Gulf State nations intervened in the Yemeni civil war on 25 March 2015, seeking to restore the ousted government of president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who fled to Riyadh after a Houthi-led popular uprising in Saana in late 2014.
Riyadh pieced together a new ‘unity government’ comprised of representatives from the Hadi government and the so-called Southern Transitional Council, a secessionist group headquartered in Aden which has fought both the Houthis and Hadi forces in the past, in late 2020. Members of the new government arrived in Aden in late December, only to be hit by a massive missile attack on the airport where they arrived. Riyadh blamed the Houthis for the strike. The militia denied responsibility, and claimed the Saudis themselves may have decided to liquidate their own ‘puppet’ government.
The Saudi-led war in Yemen is approaching its six year anniversary. Despite overwhelming superiority in numbers, military equipment, and finances, the coalition has so-far failed to achieve its goal of ousting the Houthis from their western Yemen stronghold. The war in Yemen is feared to have killed as many as 233,000 people, both in fighting and as a result of the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict and the coalition’s blockade of Houthi-controlled areas of the country. The United Nations estimates that three quarters of the country’s population remains in dire need of food and basic medical assistance.
For much of the past five+ years, the United States and other Western nations have provided arms assistance to the Saudi-led coalition. The Trump administration designated the Houthis a terrorist group in its final weeks in office. The Biden administration has reversed the designation, and halted the sale of $760 million in guided munitions to the kingdom the same month.