Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said his rebel alliance would begin attacking Saudi oil tankers should the Kingdom begin an offensive against the key Yemeni port of Hodeidah, according to a new report by Reuters.
“We could target Saudi oil tankers and we could do anything, we have not done this before,” he said.
The speech, which was televised across the Houthi leader’s territory, added that Yemeni missiles could reach the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi, as well as anywhere in Saudi Arabia, though Reuters reports that the group’s technical capability to enforce such a threat is questionable.
Abdel Malek insisted that Yemen fired a test missile towards Abu Dhabi earlier this month. The UAE is no longer safe for the country’s citizens, the leader said.
Two years of civil war between Houthi rebels and Saudi-backed President Abdrabbuh Hadi has left Yemen’s economy wrecked. The KSA is on a mission to evict the Houthis from cities they had captured back in 2014 and 2015.
“Today the port of Hodeidah is being threatened and we cannot turn a blind eye to that,” Abdel Malek said. “If the Saudi regime and with a green light from the U.S. attack Hodeidah then we have to take steps that we haven’t taken before.”
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Humanitarian relief efforts to a Yemeni population facing a cholera outbreak and widespread famine have been thwarted by political efforts to control the Hodeidah port. The United Nations wants the port to become a neutral zone so that 80 percent of Yemen’s food imports can arrive without uncertainty.
Hadi believes the Houthis are using their power over Hodeidah to smuggle weapons from Iran and to charge illegal customs duties to fund their regime. The rebels continue to deny these allegations to maintain the legitimacy of their operation.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…