Cairo: A deadly drone attack by Yemen’s Al Houthis on a Saudi airport has triggered global outrage over the Iranian-allied extremists’ continued assaults on civilians in neighbouring Saudi Arabia..
One Syrian resident was killed and 21 other civilians from different nationalities injured in the Sunday night attack that targeted Abha airport in southern Saudi Arabia.
The injured people included 13 Saudis, four Indians, two Egyptians and two Bangladeshis. Two were reportedly in a critical condition. Three women and two children were among the victims.
Second attack in less than 2 weeks
The attack was the second in less than two weeks against the same airport.
A missile fired by Al Houthis on Abha airport on June 12 had injured 26 civilians, including two children.
Both these attacks were the latest in a string of drone and missile assaults aimed at Saudi targets against a backdrop of heightened tensions between the US and Iran.
The UAE has strongly condemned Al Houthis’ terrorist attack, saying it flies in the face of all international laws and conventions.
“The UAE strongly condemns this terrorist act and labels it as a new evidence of the Iranian-backed Al Houthi militias’ hostile and terrorist tendencies to undermine security and stability in the region,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said.
“The UAE re-iterates its solidarity with Saudi Arabia against any threat to its security and stability and supports all measures taken by the Saudi government to maintain the security of its citizens and residents. The security of the UAE and of the Kingdom is indivisible ... any threat or danger to Saudi Arabia’s security is considered a threat to UAE’s security and stability.”
The Abha attack came on the eve of a visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the biggest Islamic bloc, has condemned the latest attack as a criminal action.
“The organisation condemns these criminal acts carried out by the terrorist Al Houthi militia targeting civilians, public facilities and holy cities,” OIC Secretary-General Yousuf Bin Ahmad Al Othaimen, said in a statement.
Last month, Saudi forces intercepted two missiles launched by Al Houthis in the direction of Makkah in western Saudi Arabia.
The 57-member OIC expressed backing for Saudi Arabia in taking necessary steps to “confront this dangerous terrorism” which Al Othaimen warned poses a threat to regional and global security.
Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Abdul Lateef Al Zayani, meanwhile, urged the international community to condemn the continuation of Al Houthi attacks on populous areas and civil installations in Saudi Arabia.
US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid denounced the attack on Abha airport, calling it “cowardly” and offered condolences of the victims. “The Embassy has seen reports of the cowardly attack on @AHBairport. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms and send our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those injured or killed in this outrageous attack on civilians,” the diplomat said in a tweet.
Similar condemnations were voiced by other countries including the UAE, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan and Afghanistan.
An Arab coalition fighting Al Houthis in Yemen has vowed to pursue firm measures to deter Iran’s proxies.
“The terrorist Al Houthi militias continue their unethical practices by targeting civilians and civil installations, which are protected by the humanitarian international law and its rules.
"They amount to war crimes,” the alliance’s spokesman Col. Turki Al Maliki said in a statement. He was commenting on the Abha attack that damaged a restaurant and 18 cars at the airport parking area.
He accused Iran of providing the Yemeni militants with sophisticated weapons used in attacking Saudi Arabia. “The alliance will go ahead with implementing firm measures to deter these terrorist militias,” Al Maliki added.
“The terrorist elements responsible for planning and implementing this terrorist attack will be held to account in conformity with international humanitarian law,” he added.
Air traffic returned to normal at Abha airport after it was temporarily suspended due to the attack.
Al Houthis have launched dozens of attacks across the border into Saudi Arabia over the past four years.
The surge in their attacks has substantiated the conviction that Iran has not halted its military support for Al Houthis despite repeated warnings and pressure.
“Saudi Arabia and the coalition command have the right to respond to any aggression by Al Houthis on civilians in a firm and painful way,” Saudi researcher Salman Al Sherida said.
“The madness of the Iranian regime and its attempt to drag the region to chaos are expected. These failed attempts are the result of pressure facing Tehran due to US sanctions that can increase in order to compel it to change its policies,” Al Sherida told Saudi news portal Sabaq.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly said it does not want war, but it is prepared to defend its territory and interests.
The coalition, led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia has been fighting in Yemen against Al Houthis since 2015 in response to a request from the country’s internationally recognised government.
The intervention came after Al Houthis advanced on the government’s seat of Aden in southern Yemen after they had seized the capital Sana’a. In late 2014, the militants had toppled the government and overran several parts of Yemen, plunging the impoverished country into a devastating war.
Several UN bids to resolve the conflict have collapsed over Al Houthis’ procrastination.