Saudi Arabian military says Houthis make Yemen’s ports bases for terrorism

Coalition said rebels have more weapons and boats that could be used to attack shipping

Saudi-led coalition spokesperson, Colonel Turki al-Malki speaks during a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Reuters
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The Arab Coalition has condemned Yemen’s Houthi rebels for using civilian ports in the country’s west for warfare.

Hodeidah, Al Saleef and Ras Isa have become staging areas for attacks on global maritime trade, as well as hubs for weapons smuggling and production.

“The Houthi rebels have been practising piracy in the international waters of the Red Sea and Bab Al Mandeb, which threatens maritime security and poses a big threat to global trade,” the Arab Coalition spokesman Gen Turki Al Malki said on Saturday.

“The act of piracy, which was committed by the Houthi rebels against the Emirati-flagged Rawabi ship last week is a severe violation of international laws and threatens maritime security.”

The Houthis have used long-range ballistic missiles, which can strike oil infrastructure in the region.

Last week, they hijacked the Emirati-flagged Rawabi in the waters near Ras Isa.

The coalition said this constituted an act of terrorism.

“The rebels orchestrated and executed the attack which targeted the Rawabi, Gen Al Malki said.

He said the attack originated “from Hodeidah port, using fishing boats, and redirected it [the ship] to Al Saleef port”.

Explosive-laden boats

Gen Al Malki said the rebels were using Ras Isa, Hodeidah and Al Saleef ports to import and assemble Iranian ballistic missiles, and for the covert manufacture of explosive-laden boats used to attack commercial ships.

“The Coalition destroyed 100 explosive-laden boats and handled more than 248 sea mines, all of them launched from Hodeidah ports,” Gen Al Malki said.

Gen Al Malki emphasised that all the weapons used by the Houthis to attack commercial ships in the Red Sea are provided by Iran, which also provides training.

“The explosive-laden boats, the ballistic missiles and the marine mines the Houthi rebels use to target commercial ships originate in Iran, and Al Saleef port is a major centre where the rebels assemble these weapons and prepare the explosive-laden boats to use them in their terror acts against international shipping,“ he said.

On the ground in Yemen, Al Amalika Southern Forces, backed by the Arab Coalition, regained full control over Bayhan district in the western part of the oil-rich province of Shabwa, south-eastern Yemen, early on Saturday,” a military commander in Bayhan told The National.

“Our troops stormed the city from the east and redeployed all over the city to guard state institutions in the city,” the military commander said.

“Dozens of Houthi fighters were killed amid the clashes in the city’s eastern outskirts while other folks fled towards the bordering province of Al Bayda.”

On Saturday, Shabwa’s governor, Sheikh Awadh Al Wazer, said Bayda city had been entirely liberated by Al Amalika Southern Forces after fierce clashes with the rebels.

Updated: January 09, 2022, 5:56 AM