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Doubts arise on Saudi claims of Houthi missile interception?

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News Analysis |

Experts have raised questions about Saudi claims of shooting down Houthi missiles – Doha based Al Jazeera reports. Earlier Saudi authorities claimed that seven ballistic missiles fired by Houthi Rebels, who have taken control of capital Sanaa and its surrounding territories in Yemen, were intercepted by US made Anti-ballistic missile defense system (ABMDS) PATRIOT. Three of these were targeted at capital Riyadh whereas rests of the four were heading toward Khamis Mushait and southern cities of Jizan and Najran. As a result of being hit by falling debris and missile shrapnel, an Egyptian was killed and three were injured severely.

This marks the first ever death on Saudi soil since the launch of Operation Decisive Storm against the Houthi rebels, an Iran backed Shia ethnicity of Yemen. On the other hand, Houthi Defense ministry has announced these attacks to be successful on the eve of third anniversary of Saudi onslaught which began in 2015. The Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al Arabiya aired footage that it said showed Patriot missile batteries shooting at the incoming Houthi missiles in Riyadh.

Saudi lead coalition strikes are indiscriminate between combatants and non-combatants. UN has asked for immediate help of $350 million from the international community for humanitarian projects in the country.

History of the contemporary conflict goes back to year 2011 when an uprising was witnessed against, then, Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh. After he was forced out of power, his deputy Mansour Haddi took over and became the president in 2012. Two years later, Northern Houthi tribes launched a rebellion against President Mansour, subsequently ousting him and taking control of the capital. In 2015, Saudi Arabia launched the operation Decisive Storm, delivering airstrikes to Houthi strongholds since then.

Control over the territory in Yemen has been shared by Houthis, who also happen to control capital Sanaa, President Hadi’s government and Sunni extremist groups. The tussle of power has rendered ISIS and Al-Qaeda to consolidate themselves in the war torn country, leading US Predator drones to strike in a non-conflict zone of middle-east.

Read more: Yemeni journalists caught amid Saudi coalition and Houthi rebels

It is not the first time that Houthi fired ballistic missiles have successfully been intercepted by Saudi Air Force. On December 19th 2017, missiles directed toward Royal Palace in Riyadh were shot down. Though Houthis have repeatedly failed to make their missiles reach their intended targets, but their increasing range has certainly left Riyadh bewildered. Saudi Arabia currently employs PATRIOT Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense System, which is one of the top of its kinds produced by United States.

Seven ballistic missiles fired by Houthi Rebels, who have taken control of capital Sanaa and its surrounding territories in Yemen, were intercepted by US made Anti-ballistic missile defense system (ABMDS) PATRIOT last night.

But Saudi Arabia seemed willing to procure another state-of-the-art US made THAAD ABMD system. In the later part of 2017, U.S state department approved the sale for the said sophisticated technology for staggering $15 billion. Both these systems working in cascade will certainly make KSA invincible to hostile projectiles launched from across the border. Entire focus of the Operation Decisive Storm has been to neutralize the defense and military installments of Houthi Rebels, leaving them no option to retaliate other than firing Ballistic missiles at the Saudis.

Experts Doubt Saudi claims Regarding Shooting down Houthi Missiles

The Saudi Kingdom claims that it has been targeted by 90 ballistic missiles from Yemen’s Houthi rebels over the past three years. However the experts doubt the Saudi claims after watching interception videos.

Iran has been criticized by the spokesperson of Saudi lead coalition against the Houthis to have funneled the technology via Hezbollah into Yemen. However, Iran has once against termed these allegations baseless and provocative. But the pattern of events and related evidence suggest otherwise. The type of ballistic missiles which are repeatedly being fired can be ranked in the category of Short Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM) with a range of 1000 Km. These missiles are strikingly identical to Qiam Ballistic missiles of Iranian origin.

Read more: Saudi Arabia Blockades Millions After Houthis Launch Missiles

Ostensibly, it is not very hard to judge how such missiles can be produced by Yemen itself, the poorest Arab country. Merely denying the almost evident affiliation with the Houthis might backfire for Iran as President Trump has already indicated to revoke the nuclear deal. Yemen has been declared as the Worst Human Crisis of the contemporary world by United Nations. There are as much as 8 million people in the country facing the imminent threat of famine.

Saudi lead coalition strikes are indiscriminate between combatants and non-combatants. UN has asked for immediate help of $350 million from the international community for humanitarian projects in the country. Though during the state visit of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, US Secretary of State had focused on the need for the resolution of Yemen crisis as soon as possible, but the war seems far from climax. After the current attempt by Houthis to strike the capital, the belligerence by the Saudis will lead to more chaotic situation. For the common people of Yemen, the end to their plight is far from sight.


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