JEDDAH: A missile attack on Najran by the Iran-backed Houthis on Wednesday has caused outrage in Saudi Arabia.
Col. Turki Al-Maliki, spokesman for the Arab coalition fighting to restore the legitimate government to power in Yemen, and the Saudi Civil Defense, said 32 people, including children, were injured by “falling scattered fragments” after Saudi defenses shot down the missiles before they could reach their target.
A total of 19 cars and 15 houses in the area were damaged. The debris left a crater on the road. Members of four families, whose houses were damaged, were relocated.
Saudi Arabia’s defence forces also intercepted a missile fired by the Houthis towards Jazan on Thursday.
Experts have urged the UN to step in and condemn the Houthi aggression.
“The Houthis have fired no fewer than 190 missiles toward Saudi Arabia. Where is the UN?” asked Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Riyadh-based Saudi political analyst and international-relations scholar.
“Where is the international community? Where is their condemnation? Thankfully, most of the missiles have been intercepted by the Saudi anti-missile batteries, but God forbid if one slips through, one can imagine the disaster that would ensue.”
Al-Shehri said there is a discrepancy between the international community’s reaction to incidents when Yemeni civilians have been mistakenly targeted by the Arab coalition and its reaction to Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia.
“When Saudi civilians and densely populated Saudi cities are under attack, there is no word from the UN, human rights organizations or the global community,” he said. “This clearly indicates their bias toward Iran and the Houthis.”
Al-Shehri said the UN must immediately condemn Houthi attacks and take the lead in implementing its own resolution on Yemen.
Passed by the Security Council in April 2015, Resolution 2216 “demanded that all parties in the embattled country, in particular the Houthis, immediately and unconditionally cease all violence and refrain from further unilateral actions that threatened the political transition.”
Al-Shehri said Saudi Arabia and its allies are carrying out the mandate of the UN. “It is the job of UN to restore the rightful government (of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi) in Yemen and to disarm the Houthis. This tiny minority — which is armed to the teeth by Iran — has held Yemenis hostage. It has plundered the country. Restoring order in Yemen is the job of the whole international community, not just the Saudi-led Arab coalition.”
Coalition spokesman Al-Maliki claimed the Houthis’ missile attacks prove the Iranian regime’s continued involvement in supporting the terrorist group in explicit defiance of UN Resolutions 2216 and 2231.
Fahad Nazer, international fellow at the Washington-based National Council on US-Arab Relations, said the attack should be unequivocally condemned by the international community, and specifically the UN.
“The almost daily targeting of civilian centers in Saudi Arabia by the Houthi militia demonstrates beyond doubt that they are not serious about ending the conflict in Yemen,” he told Arab News. In fact, the Houthis seem intent on prolonging and expanding the conflict, he said.
“They have fired thousands of mortars and 190 ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the conflict, leading to many civilian casualties.
“This latest missile attack toward Najran, which injured 32 people, including children, should be condemned by the international community and the UN Security Council and is yet another reminder that the Houthis and their Iranian patrons remain the main obstacle standing in the way of ending the conflict,” Nazer concluded.