Iranian-sponsored Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed an “armed drones” attack on vital oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, underscoring rising tensions in the Middle East.
The kingdom said drones attacked one of its oil pipelines as another armed vehicle targeted energy infrastructure elsewhere in the country on Tuesday. The targets belong to the country’s state-run oil company Aramco.
In a statement carried on the state-run Saudi Press Agency, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Aramco had “temporarily shut down” the pipeline to “evaluate its condition” but added that oil production and exports had not been interrupted.
Falih described the incident as an “act of terrorism (…) that not only targets the kingdom but also the security of oil supplies to the world and the global economy” and said it reaffirmed the need of the international community to confront the activities of Iranian-backed terrorist groups like the Houthis.
Houthi spokesperson, Yahia al-Sarei, confirmed in a video statement that seven vehicles were involved in what he described as the largest drone attack on Saudi Arabia since the civil war in Yemen erupted in 2015.
“This is a message to Saudi Arabia, stop your aggression,” al-Sarei charged, adding the attacks were a “legitimate response on the crimes committed against the Yemeni people.” The Iranian-sponsored Houthi rebels are fighting the internationally recognized government of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, which is supported by the Saudi-led coalition.
The drone assault marked the latest Iranian-coordinated attack, after the sabotage of oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday.
The head of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, described the attacks in a statement on Tuesday as a “serious threat to the regional and international security, and the world economy.” He stressed that the organization stands by Saudi Arabia to “counter these terrorist threats aimed at destabilizing the region.”
Iran has been accused by the United States and the UN of supplying ballistic missile technology and arms to the Houthis, which the Iranian regime denies.
[Photo: Suresh Babunair / Wikimedia Commons]