“There is no point in negotiations with a party that is looking to obtain through talks what it has failed to achieve through a military campaign.” — Ansar Allah chief negotiator Mohammed AbdulSalam
SANA’A, YEMEN — Yemeni forces reportedly targeted Apache helicopters as well as a Saudi airbase in Bir Askar in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern region of Najran on Wednesday evening. The attack was carried out with a salvo of high-precision ballistic missiles dubbed the Badr P-1. The short-range ballistic missile uses a solid-propellant, an upgrade from its previous iteration, the Badr-1.
The Houthis’ Arabic-language Al Masirah, citing unnamed military officials, reported on Wednesday that Houthi missiles successfully struck their designated target in Najran.
Al Masirah’s broadcast station, which was taken off the air by Egyptian satellite company NileSat on Wednesday, said that the attack left an unspecified number of Saudi pilots killed or wounded, destroyed many Apache aircraft, and sparked a large fire in one of the bases’ ammunition stores.
MintPress was unable to independently verify the claim, but a high-ranking source in Yemen’s military, loyal to the Houthis, told MintPress on Sunday that ballistic missile and drones attacks would escalate in coming days and vital facilities in UAE and Saudi Arabia would be targeted.
In a separate attack, a Zelzal-1 (Earthquake-1) missile hit a gathering of Saudi-allied mercenaries near Qais Mountain in Jizan, Saudi Arabia. Another missile of the same type hit a group of mercenaries in the Wawa area of Asir. Yemen’s Houthi-allied military said that both projectiles left an unspecified number of Saudi-led forces either killed or wounded.
On Sunday, the Houthis canceled a UN-backed cease-fire, previously enacted as a goodwill measure to “speed up” the peace process, and resumed ballistic missile and drone attacks against Saudi-led coalition forces.
Continuing cycle of death and destruction
A source in the Yemeni armed forces told Mintpress that the attack on the Saudi air base was in retaliation for deadly Saudi attacks on civilians in Hajjah, in northwestern Yemen, which killed over 15 civilians in a single week.
On Tuesday, seven civilians were killed, including women and children, and three were injured when Saudi aircraft targeted a home belonging to Hussein al-Yamani in al-Yamnah village in the Haradh directorate. In a separate attack, six civilians were killed and three were injured by Saudi airstrikes in the Ram district of the Mustaba region east of Haradh early Tuesday.
According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.
Meanwhile, Saudi-led coalition airstrikes against multiple Yemeni provinces — including Hodeida, Sada’a, Hajjah, and Sana’a — continue. The coalition and its allies have said repeatedly that they target only Houthi military positions, yet international organizations say the spate of airstrikes have focused on residential areas where there are no Houthi fighters.
Losing confidence in the UN
Ansar Allah, the political wing of Yemen’s Houthi resistance movement, says ongoing airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition will make the next round of UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden meaningless. The chief negotiator for Ansar Allah, Mohammed AbdulSalam, said to a local newspaper:
There is no point in negotiations with a party that is looking to obtain through talks what it has failed to achieve through a military campaign.”
AbdulSalam went on to say that certain indicators — such as non-stop airstrikes, the failure to reopen the Sana’a Airport to commercial air traffic, the refusal to release prisoners and detainees, and the failure to remove sanctions, as well as other confidence-undermining measures — are making Yemenis lose confidence in the United Nations.
Ansar Allah criticized the UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, saying that Griffiths has not introduced a comprehensive political framework for a solution to the Yemeni conflict. Specifically, he has offered no solution that takes into account a government transition with the inclusion of all Yemeni political parties.
Ansar Allah further noted that Griffiths is focusing on issues that are trivial and not fundamental to peace talks. Ansar Allah spokesman AbdulSalam said about Griffiths’ approach:
He [Martin Griffiths] is only looking at the possibility of bringing the warring parties together, without specifying the most important procedures for negotiations and a framework that needs to be agreed upon by all sides. If he does not offer a clear and comprehensive political framework that would form the nucleus of the next round of peace negotiations, he will not be able to hold any further talks.”
A deteriorating situation
UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock, who is currently on a three-day visit to Yemen, made an appeal to all sides to cease hostilities, especially around the key Yemeni infrastructure including the port city of Hodeida. Lowcock made the appeal during a press briefing after arriving in the capital Sana’a on Thursday. UN agencies say the closure of the port in Hodeida would greatly exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in the country.
Lowcock went on to say that the fighting has once again highlighted the ongoing humanitarian tragedy in the war-ravaged country, adding, “the situation in Yemen has deteriorated since I was here last.”
According to the United Nations, shipping operations in Yemen’s port of Hodeida, a lifeline for the country suffering a Saudi-imposed blockade, have dropped by almost 50 percent over the past two weeks, with shipping companies deterred by insecurity and ongoing Saudi attacks.
The UN’s World Food Program said on Tuesday that a drop in the arrival of wheat and other supplies would affect food stocks in Yemen, where 14 million people are facing possible starvation.
The Red Sea Ports Company confirmed to MintPress that four vessels carrying essential foodstuffs were being held near the Saudi port of Jizan despite having received a permit to enter Yemen by the United Nations. Four million people in Hodeida live below the poverty line and are on the brink of famine, according to local authorities.
The Saudi-led coalition has killed tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians since 2015, when its war on Yemen began. Moreover, the coalition’s blockade of food and medicine has plagued the country with an unprecedented famine and triggered a deadly outbreak of preventable disease that has cost thousands their lives.
Top Photo | People inspect the rubble of homes destroyed by Saudi airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, Aug. 25, 2017. Hani Mohammed | AP
Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.