US calls on Yemen’s Houthi rebels to cease attacks on Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia said the rebels launched four drone attacks on Sunday

Houthis-allied tribesmen holding up weapons shout slogans during a rally against the US terrorist designation of the Houthis, in Sanaa, Yemen,  February 4, 2021. EPA
Houthis-allied tribesmen holding up weapons shout slogans during a rally against the US terrorist designation of the Houthis, in Sanaa, Yemen,  February 4, 2021. EPA

Yemen’s Houthi rebels must stop attacks on Saudi Arabia, the US said after the kingdom intercepted four armed drones aimed at civilian areas on Sunday.

“We call on the Houthis to immediately cease attacks impacting civilian areas inside Saudi Arabia and to halt any new military offensives inside Yemen, which only bring more suffering to the Yemeni people,” the State Department said.

“We urge the Houthis to refrain from destabilising actions and demonstrate their commitment to constructively engage in UN special envoy Martin Griffiths’ efforts to achieve peace."

France also condemned the attempted strikes. In a statement on Tuesday, the French Foreign Ministry called for the escalation against Saudi targets to stop and warned that "the proliferation and use of drones undermine the region’s stability."

"France calls on the Houthis to put an end to their offensive in Yemen, as well as their destabilising regional activities, and to engage in a constructive manner in a political process to resolve the crisis in Yemen," the ministry said.

The Iran-backed rebels have repeatedly launched drone and missile attacks across the border at Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom is leading a coalition supporting Yemen's internationally recognised government.

The coalition intervened in the war in 2015, months after the rebels seized the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

Coalition spokesman Col Turki Al Maliki said the rebels launched a total of four armed drones on Sunday.

"They were launched systematically and deliberately by the terrorist Houthi militia to target civilians and civilian objects in the south of the region," he said.

The coalition will “continue to undertake all necessary procedures to neutralise and destroy the advanced conventional weapons capabilities of the terrorist militia in accordance with international humanitarian law," Col Al Maliki said.

The attacks were condemned by several Arab states, including Jordan and Egypt.

Yousef Al Othaimeen, secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC), also denounced the act.

He said the OIC supported “all measures taken by the coalition forces to deal with the hostile actions of the terrorist Houthi militia”.

The Gulf Co-operation Council said the attacks were a "flagrant challenge" to the international community.

"The repetition of such terrorist attempts carried out by the Houthi militias is a matter that necessitates that the world community should take an immediate and firm position to stop such acts from targeting vital and civilian facilities," the GCC Secretary General Nayef Al Hajraf said.

They came after US President Joe Biden's administration said last week that it would take the Houthis off the US terrorism blacklist, reversing a move taken by his predecessor Donald Trump just before he left office in January.

"As the president is taking steps to end the war in Yemen, and Saudi Arabia has endorsed a negotiated settlement, the United States is deeply troubled by continued Houthi attacks," the State Department said.

“The time is now to find an end to this conflict.”

Updated: February 9, 2021 09:28 PM

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