Missile attack on Riyadh ‘an act of war’ by Iran

Updated 07 November 2017

Missile attack on Riyadh ‘an act of war’ by Iran

JEDDAH: A Houthi missile fired at Riyadh may be considered an act of war by Iran, and Saudi Arabia will not tolerate any infringement of its national security, senior Saudi officials said on Monday.
“The Kingdom reserves the right to respond in a timely manner to the hostile actions of the Iranian regime,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said.
“Iranian interventions in the region are detrimental to the security of neighboring countries and affect international peace and security. We will not allow any infringement of our national security.”
Iran supplied the ballistic missile fired into Saudi Arabia on Saturday night by Houthi rebels in Yemen. Saudi defense forces intercepted the missile and shot it down over King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh, and there were no casualties.
“Iran’s role and its direct command of its Houthi proxy in this matter constitute a clear act of aggression that targets neighboring countries, and threatens peace and security in the region and globally,” the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said on Monday.
“Therefore, the coalition’s command considers this a blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime, and could rise to be considered as an act of war against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“The coalition command also affirms that the Kingdom reserves its right to respond to Iran at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner.”
The Coalition Forces Command ordered the temporary closure on Monday of all air, sea and land ports in Yemen, except for aid workers and humanitarian supplies.
Col. Turki Al-Maliki, spokesman for the coalition, produced evidence on Sunday that Iran supplied weapons and technology to the Houthis, including ballistic missiles, launchers, aerial drones, land and naval mines and improvised explosive devices.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa said Iran was a danger to the region, and the Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Majid Rafizadeh said the international community should hold Tehran accountable.
“Compromises, concessions and diplomatic maneuvering don’t work with the Iranian regime,” he told Arab News. “Iranian leaders view concessions as weakness.”
He called for a combination of economic sanctions, political pressure and enhanced monitoring of Iran’s illegal activities. “Tehran’s exports and imports should be closely examined and restricted. The US, EU and Arab powers should form a military front, like NATO, as a bulwark against the Iran regime.”
Rafizadeh said Iran was the leading state sponsor of terrorism. “The UN should invoke UN Resolution 2231 and immediately punish Tehran for violating it. Otherwise, Tehran’s belligerent behavior will continue to grow. This can turn the regional conflict into a conflagration.”
UN Security Council Resolution 2231 adopted the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, but also imposed restrictions on Iran’s use of some ballistic missiles.
Thomas Mattair, executive director of the Middle East Policy Council in Washington, told Arab News: “Iran should not expect to be able to facilitate attacks on Saudi Arabia without paying some consequences.”
Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar in Riyadh, said the international community should have prevented Iran from creating havoc in the region.
“Things would not have reached this pass if the world community had taken measures against Iran and its arming of militias such Hezbollah and the Houthis,” he told Arab News. “The world’s inaction led Iran to believe that it can basically get away with murder.”
He condemned Iran for first attacking Makkah in July, and now Riyadh. “They want to kill innocent people and spread terror; this is their only business.”
The world community, and specifically the US and Russia, must pressurize Iran to give up its hostility to Arab countries, Al-Shehri said. “Now is the time to act.”  
Al-Shehri said the missile attack on Riyadh was a “declaration of war” on Saudi Arabia.  
“Saudi Arabia will not sit idle and will not wait for the international community to do nothing,” he said. “Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir has made it clear that Saudi Arabia, in coordination with its Arab allies, reserves the right to defend its sovereignty and its people.”
Al-Shehri said all options were on the table and all measures were being explored. “The Saudi leadership will decide what option and measures to go for and when,” he said. “One thing is clear, this Iranian-Hezbollah-Houthi provocation and attack will not go unpunished.”
Among the options, he said, was directly confronting Iran. “A fitting Saudi response will come at a time and place of its choosing.”
David Pollack, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East policy, said Saudi Arabia “generally has a valid case. The Arab coalition and its international partners, including the US, should intensify maritime and land interdiction efforts, including via Oman.”
Aaron David Miller, vice president for new initiatives and Middle East program director at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, speculated that Saudi Arabia had reached a “firm understanding” with the US that should tensions with Iran escalate, “the US will be there to support” the Kingdom.
King Salman and President Donald Trump spoke by phone on Saturday and discussed the Houthi missile attack and Iran’s involvement in the region.

Revealed: How Saudi special forces captured Yemen’s Daesh chief in daring 10-minute raid

Updated 52 min 38 sec ago

Revealed: How Saudi special forces captured Yemen’s Daesh chief in daring 10-minute raid

JEDDAH: The daring raid that captured Daesh’s leader in Yemen was meticulously planned for almost a month, and executed in a 10-minute early-morning blitz on his home by Saudi special forces, security sources have told Arab News.

Abu Osama Al-Muhajir — known during the operation as “the special catch” — was arrested on June 3, along with the terror group’s finance officer and a number of other Daesh fighters. Their capture was kept secret for 22 days so that investigators could complete inquiries and confirm their identities.

The operation began, as sensitive security operations often do, with intelligence. Sources reported that Al-Muhajir was living in a house in a Yemeni village, with other terrorists and their wives and children. The house was placed under surveillance, and Daesh’s presence confirmed.

“The mission commander was selected, one of the most prominent officers of the Special Security Forces, who in his turn chose the individuals participating in the mission. All have had advanced training in this kind of dangerous operation,” a source told Arab News.

“They put together a three-stage plan to ensure the veracity of the intelligence, the completion of the task in the fastest way possible without causing any harm to people living nearby or exposing the members of the force to any harm, and exiting the site taking those arrested to a safe area.”

Stage one of the operation involved constant monitoring of the house to check people’s comings and goings, and the quantity and quality of weapons they were likely to have, including bombs.

The monitoring stage complete, the mission commander set the operation for 9.30am on June 3, the last day of Ramadan. “The time was chosen for several reasons, most importantly because during Ramadan, people eat the suhoor meal before dawn and go back to sleep afterwards, and the sleeping schedule of the people inside the house had been carefully studied,” a source said.

Ten minutes was all that Saudi special forces needed to capture Yemen's Daesh leader Abu Osama Al-Muhajir and other key terrorists on June 3, but it took them weeks to prepare for the successful operation. (Supplied photo)


“The operational plan was finely tuned to minimize collateral damage from the raid, and arrest the terrorists while ensuring the safety of the women and children inside the house. Approval was given for the execution.

“The Force Commander informed his colleagues of the method of attack and execution, and  the method of withdrawal after execution or in the event of any emergency.

“When the time came, the execution of the second phase of the plan took place, attacking and raiding the house at exactly 9:20 a.m. The operation met no resistance and the special forces arrested all those in the house. Within 10 minutes of the raid, the entire mission was complete, which included arresting people, confiscating any weapons in the house, and getting out.”

The third stage was transporting the “precious catch” to a safe area away from any danger, either from Daesh agents or other terrorist organizations, including the Iran-backed Houthi militias. This also went perfectly as planned.

Saudi special forces are trained, by leaders in the field worldwide, in how to plan and execute such sensitive tasks with speed and precision, and safely. The success of this operation came as no surprise to the Yemeni political analyst Abdullah Ismail.

“It demonstrates the extraordinary capabilities of the Saudi forces in particular and the Arab coalition forces in general, carrying out such delicate operations, the result of intelligence work and the success of surveillance, which led to the arrest of a person in 10 minutes without causing any injuries to civilians or to the participating forces,” he told Arab News.

“This operation is a serious blow to Daesh, which became active to some extent after the overthrow of the Yemeni state through the Houthi coup.”