In a statement on Friday, March 25, Yemeni Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a series of sixteen attacks in southern Saudi Arabia and Jeddah (west of the country) targeting various infrastructures, including a power plant, a water station and oil installations.
These attacks were carried out on the eve of the seventh anniversary of the intervention of a military coalition led by Riyadh in Yemen to fight the Houthi rebels near Iran. They caused no injuries, according to Ryad.
The most impressive was aimed at the tank of the oil giant Aramco in Jeddah, which caused a giant fire. “The disaster is under control”said the spokesman for the coalition, Turki Al-Maliki, and assured that the incident would not have an impact “About activities in Jeddah”. It happened not far from the Formula 1 circuit, where the Grand Prix’s free practice is being held, scheduled for Sunday. The second session was also delayed by fifteen minutes.
The Formula 1 championship promoter has announced that the event will continue “as expected”. A late four-hour meeting between the drivers, their team leaders and the main leaders of the motor championship was held in the evening without an official announcement at the end.
“Ready and totally focused on qualifying tomorrow [samedi] », tweeted Mexican Sergio Pérez later, implicitly confirming the decision to compete. Sunday’s race is the second in the Formula 1 season.
Clear and totally focused on tomorrow’s quality! 💪 List y con todo el enfoque en la calificación de mañana… https://t.co/3xG80zi9oN
“Touching the nerve in the global economy”
The attacks, carried out with missiles and drones, were launched from the cities of Sanaa, the capital of Yemen into the hands of the rebels, and Hodeïda, a major port, also in the rebel zone.
They gave rise to retaliation from the coalition, announced by the official Saudi agency SPA on the night between Friday and Saturday, “against the sources of threat in Sanaa and Hodeïda”. “The military operation will continue until its objectives are reached”she added, quoting the coalition.
The United States called the attacks by Yemeni rebels one“unacceptable”. “We will continue to work with our Saudi partners to strengthen their defense systems as we work towards a lasting solution to end the conflict.” in Yemen, said State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter.
“These attacks, which threaten Saudi Arabia’s security and stability in the region, must stop immediately”added the spokeswoman for French diplomacy, Anne-Claire Legendre, pointing the seriousness of the threat [liée à la] dispersal of drones and missiles ».
By targeting oil installations, the Houthis are trying to “touching the nerve of the global economy”said Turki Al-Maliki.
Oil prices have risen sharply since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 disrupted global supplies as Moscow was hit by Western sanctions. The Saudi kingdom, the world’s largest exporter of crude oil, had already warned on Monday of the risk of a drop in its oil production in the wake of several attacks, which the Houthis claimed.
Riyadh does not want to increase its oil production
A Saudi Ministry of Energy official, quoted by the official SPA agency, again warned Friday about the threat of these attacks. “for the security of the world’s oil supply”. “Saudi Arabia will not take responsibility for lack of oil supply in world markets”added the Saudi official, accusing Iran of “continue to deliver drones and missiles” to the Houthis. On Sunday, one of the attacks forced Aramco to reduce “temporarily” its production and dip into its stocks to compensate.
Since the start of the Ukrainian crisis, Western countries have been pressuring the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), led by Saudi Arabia, to increase its production. However, the Gulf monarchy remained deaf to these calls, true to its commitments to the OPEC + alliance, which includes Russia, the second largest exporter of crude oil in the world.
Seven years after the first attacks, on March 26, 2015 in Yemen, the military intervention led by Riyadh showed its borders on the ground and highlighted one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. It certainly made it possible to stop the advance of the Houthi rebels in the south and east, but not to expel them from the northern part of the country, especially from the capital Sanaa.
According to the UN, the conflict has caused the deaths of nearly 380,000 people, most of them associated with hunger, disease and lack of drinking water.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which groups six Arab petro-monarchies and is dominated by Saudi Arabia, indicated in mid-March that it was ready to hold peace talks with the Houthi rebels, but the latter refused to join. was held in Riyadh. That is what the coalition said on Friday “show restraint” to give lectures a chance.