The government of Saudi Arabia issued a statement calling for “restraint and avoiding escalation” on Friday in response to American and British airstrikes in Yemen against the Shiite Houthi terrorists controlling that country.
“While the Kingdom stresses the importance of preserving the security and stability of the Red Sea region, in which freedom of navigation is an international demand [and of] interest of the entire world,” a statement from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs reads, “[Saudi Arabia] calls for restraint and avoiding escalation in light of the events the region is witnessing.”
The statement described the Saudi government as watching the developments with “great concern.”
Saudi Arabia has engaged in military action against the Houthis in Yemen for nearly a decade, since the eruption of a civil war there in 2014. Riyadh has faced years of global condemnation from human rights organizations for its operations in the country, which some activists have labeled “war crimes.”
The U.S. and U.K. armed forces confirmed dozens of strikes within Yemeni territory between Thursday and Friday on strategic targets including “radar systems, air defense systems, and storage and launch sites for one-way attack unmanned aerial systems, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles,” according to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). CENTCOM published a video of the strikes, which are a response to the Houthis severely disrupting global commercial shipping by randomly attacking container vessels attempting to transit through the Red Sea.
Houthi leaders responded to the attacks by declaring they would expand their terrorist activities against London and Washington.
“Washington and London must acknowledge responsibility for aggravating the situation at the Red Sea, and the militarization of the body of water,” Brigadier General Abdullah bin Amer, a Houthi leader in the terror group’s “Moral Guidance Department,” said on Friday, according to the Iranian state propaganda outlet PressTV. “They must be ready to embrace a heavy price, and bear all the deleterious consequences of this open aggression.”
The Houthis – an Iran-backed, Shiite jihadist organization that launched a civil war against the legitimate government of Yemen in 2014 – declared war on Israel in October as a gesture of support to Hamas, a Sunni terrorist organization also bankrolled by Iran. As part of that war, Houthi leaders announced they would attack commercial shipping vessels transiting the Red Sea, vowing to target only ships with ties to Israel. In reality, however, the terrorists have attempted drone attacks on ships with no significant relationship to Israel and prompted a significant percentage of shipping to reroute away from the region, taking the much longer route around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.
Prior to the group’s rising prominence as a disrupter of global trade, the Houthis engaged in direct bombings of Saudi Arabia in response to Riyadh’s support for the legitimate government of Yemen that the terrorists overthrew. Some of the most dramatic bombings occurred in 2022, when the Houthis escalated attacks on Saudi oil facilities. In March of that year, Houthi drone and missile strikes on the city of Jeddah caused a massive fire at an Aramco oil tank facility near the site of an F1 car race.
The Houthis “put into question our ability to supply the world with the necessary energy requirements,” Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman warned that month.
“In the old days, we, along with our friends here in the UAE, worked on a collective effort to assure and ensure energy security. These pillars are no longer there,” Bin Salman said, an apparent reference to the absence of American support under Biden.
The administration of Joe Biden opposed Saudi Arabia’s involvement against the Houthis in Yemen, limiting sales of “offensive” weapons to the presumed U.S. ally and removing the Houthis from the State Department’s list of designated foreign terrorist organizations. The delisting allowed hundreds of millions of dollars to pour into Houthi-controlled Yemen.
The concessions to the Houthis – a group whose slogan is “Allahu Akbar, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam” – were some of Biden’s first actions as president in 2021.
Biden reportedly considered allowing offensive weapons sales to Saudi Arabia again in 2022, but ultimately took no publicly known action.
Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, an influential member of the royal family, said in May 2022:
Saudis consider the relationship as being strategic, but (feel) as being let down at a time when we thought that America and Saudi Arabia should be together in facing what we would consider to be a joint, not just irritant, but danger to the stability and security of the area.
“The fact that President Biden delisted the Houthis from the terrorist list has emboldened them and made them even more aggressive in their attacks on Saudi Arabia, as well as on the UAE,” he added.