Houthi attacks threaten Yemeni govt-controlled oil facilities

In this March 26, 2022 file photo, Yemeni police inspect a site of Saudi-led airstrikes targeting two houses in Sana'a, Yemen. (HANI MOHAMMED / AP)

ADEN, Yemen – Yemen's economic facilities, particularly oil ports controlled by the Saudi-backed Yemeni government, are facing a heightened threat of Houthi rebel militia's missile attacks just 20 days after the expiration of a UN-brokered truce in the war-ravaged Arab country.

In a new military escalation, two loud explosions ripped through a key government-controlled oil port of Dhabah in Yemen's southeastern province of Hadramout on Friday following a Houthi attack with two explosive-laden drones.

The drone attack occurred as local authorities were preparing a new shipment of oil exports to the global markets, Yemeni security officials told Xinhua.

The Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree claimed responsibility for the attack just hours after the incident, prompting a local public outcry and strong condemnation from the Yemeni government

The Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree claimed responsibility for the attack just hours after the incident, prompting a local public outcry and strong condemnation from the Yemeni government.

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"In a clear military warning message to stop the stealing of Yemeni oil, the strikes were aimed at targeting the area between the oil ship and the port buoy," said the Houthi spokesman.

"The ship had breached the orders issued previously by the ruling authorities in Sanaa to prohibit the transfer and export of Yemen's sovereign oil derivatives," he said, adding that "the warning strike was intended to stop any further attempts to exploit and loot Yemen's oil wealth."

Additionally, Saree urged "all domestic and foreign oil corporations to strictly abide by Sanaa's rulings and refrain from the plundering of Yemen's wealth."

The Houthi drone attack was strongly condemned by the internationally-recognized Yemeni government, which vowed in a statement on Friday that "all options remained open" as a result of the military escalation.

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After the attack, Yemen's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak spoke on the phone with UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg to discuss "the repercussions of Iran-backed Houthi militias' attacks on the oil facilities in the country and threats of international navigation."

The Houthi militias' attacks "constitute direct aggression on the Yemeni people and Yemen's infrastructure and economic capacities," the foreign minister said, adding they have also seriously undermined the ongoing efforts aimed at ending the war, extending the truce, and achieving peace in Yemen.

Bin Mubarak called on the UN to take a firmer and stronger stance against the Houthis' threats, punish the perpetrators, and protect regional and international peace and security, according to the state-run Saba news agency.

In a separate press statement, the oil ministry of the internationally-recognized government said that the Houthis had carried out similar attacks on Oct 19 and Oct 20 on oil ships anchoring at the ports of Dhabah and Radhom in the oil-rich province of Shabwa.

Saudi Arabia, which is backing the Yemeni government forces in fighting the Houthis, condemned the rebels' attack on Dhabah oil port, saying that it was a violation of international law, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday.

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Earlier this month, Hans Grundberg announced that no agreement had been reached to renew the expired truce between Yemen's warring parties, which went into force on April 2, and then was renewed twice through Oct 2.

Officials from the Yemeni government have accused the Houthis of creating nationwide panic and negatively impacting the nation's faltering economy by threatening to strike foreign oil companies in Yemen.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi militia stormed several northern cities and forced the Saudi-backed Yemeni government out of the capital, Sanaa.

The war has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced four million, and pushed the country to the brink of starvation.