Houthi missiles fired at Saudi Arabia appear to be Iranian, says UN

A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location in Iran in this handout photo released by the official website of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on March 8, 2016. (Sepahnews.com/Handout via Reuters
Updated 01 December 2017

Houthi missiles fired at Saudi Arabia appear to be Iranian, says UN

JEDDAH: Remnants of four ballistic missiles fired into Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Houthi militias this year appear to have been designed and manufactured by Iran, a confidential report by UN sanctions monitors said, bolstering a push by the US to punish the Tehran government.

The independent panel of UN monitors, in a Nov. 24 report to the Security Council seen by Reuters, said: “Design characteristics and dimensions of the components inspected by the panel are consistent with those reported for the Iranian designed and manufactured Qiam-1 missile.”

Earlier this month, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley accused Iran of supplying Houthi militia with a missile that was fired into Saudi Arabia in July and called for the UN to hold Tehran accountable for violating two UN Security Council resolutions.

The report said that monitors had visited two Saudi military bases to see remnants gathered by authorities from missile attacks on Saudi Arabia on May 19, July 22, July 26 and Nov. 4.

They also visited four “impact points” from the Nov. 4 attack where other remnants of the missiles were identified.

The UN monitors said they gathered evidence that the missiles were transferred to Yemen in pieces and assembled there by missile engineers with the Houthis and allied forces loyal to Yemen’s deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

They said the missiles most likely were smuggled into Yemen along “the land routes from Oman or Ghaydah and Nishtun in Al-Mahrah governorate (in Yemen) after ship-to-shore transshipment to small dhows, a route that has already seen limited seizures of anti-tank guided weapons.”

The monitors also said that while “concealment in cargo of vessels offloading in the Red Sea ports is unlikely, it cannot be excluded as an option.”

Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Majid Rafizadeh described the findings of the UN monitors as "a significant development."

"They (the findings) corroborate and substantiate what Saudi Arabia and US officials have previously stated that the Houthi missiles targeting Saudi Arabia were made by the Iranian regime. Iran's action was an act of war which could have killed and wounded hundreds, if not thousands of people," Rafizadeh told Arab News.

"This UN report gives global legitimacy to Saudi Arabia ... it shows that Saudi Arabia makes statements based on evidence and objective investigation," he said. "It is the Iranian regime which harbors deep antagonism toward Saudi Arabia for religious, political and ethnic reasons. It is the Iranian regime which continues to incite violence, support terrorism and destabilize the region to advance its hegemonic ambitions."

Rafizadeh said the UN announcement should be used as a powerful tool to mobilize the international community to hold the Iranian regime accountable.

"Words should turn into actions; otherwise Iran will continue to support terrorism, destabilizing the region, and posing threat to lives of many of people in the region. Those Iranian leaders who are responsible for supporting the Houthis and the missiles targeting Saudi Arabia should be brought to justice," he added.

Meanwhile, another ballistic missile fired from Yemen was intercepted and destroyed on Thursday, Saudi media reported. No casualties were reported.

“The missile heading toward the city of Khamis Mushayt was intercepted and destroyed without any casualties,” the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted the coalition spokesman Turki Al-Maliki as saying.

Pakistan condemned the strike in a statement. It commended “the timely action by Saudi forces to destroy the missile preventing any loss of life.”

Saudi Arabia, South Korea reach agreement on visas

King Salman chairs the Cabinet session in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 16 January 2019

Saudi Arabia, South Korea reach agreement on visas

  • Cabinet OKs air transport pact with Indonesia

JEDDAH: The Saudi Cabinet met to discuss a series of national and global developments on Tuesday, in a session chaired by King Salman.

At the forefront of the agenda was the escalation in tensions between Israel and Hamas along the Gaza border, and the continuing encroachment on Palestinian land by Israeli settlers in the West Bank. The Cabinet responded by demanding that the UN Security Council intervene. King Salman also relayed to ministers the outcome of his talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which covered many regional issues.

The minister of media, Turki bin Abdullah Al-Shabanah, announced that after reviewing proposals from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a decision from the Shoura Council, a memorandum of understanding between the government and the Republic of Korea on granting visit visas had been agreed upon.

The Cabinet approved the amendment of the air agreement on regular air transport between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

The Cabinet, meanwhile, praised the progress of the 2025 Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development Program, aimed at enhancing farming techniques by promoting sustainable water and renewable energy sources.

They also discussed the framework in Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program 2020 for building a sustainable renewable energy sector, reiterating aims to lead global renewable energy developments over the next decade, and create projects such as the wind-powered plant at Dumat Al-Jandal, as part of the King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative.

In a statement, though, Al-Shabanah said: “The Cabinet discussed the announcement made by the minister of energy, industry and mineral resources about the Kingdom’s oil and gas reserves, which highlighted the importance of Saudi Arabia as a secure source of oil supplies in the long term.”

He added, in closing, the Cabinet’s praise for the efforts of Saudi security forces in the tracking and arrest of seven people in Qatif, which foiled a planned terrorist attack.