Italy condemns Houthi ballistic missile aimed at Riyadh

The Patriot missile system is a high-velocity interceptor that defends against incoming threats including tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft. (Courtesy Lockheed Martin)
Updated 20 December 2017

Italy condemns Houthi ballistic missile aimed at Riyadh

Italy has condemned on Wednesday the launch of a ballistic missile aimed at Riyadh by the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen, which was intercepted by the Saudi Royal Air Defense Force.
“This terrorist act constitutes a threat to regional peace and stability and undermines the prospects for a negotiated and comprehensive solution to the crisis,” Italian Foreign Minister, Angelino Alvano, said in a statement.
Houthi militias fired a ballistic missile toward Riyadh on Tuesday, targeting Al-Yamamah Royal Palace in the Saudi capital. Royal Saudi Air Defense forces intercepted the missile and shot it down, and there was no damage.
The attempted attack comes just weeks after the militia group in Yemen launched a missile at Riyadh on Nov. 4, targeting King Khalid International Airport.
A UN Security Council-appointed panel confirmed the missile was manufactured in Iran, along with three other missiles fired from Yemen toward the Kingdom this year.


Pentagon chief visits Saudi Arabia as tensions simmer with Iran

Updated 50 min 2 sec ago

Pentagon chief visits Saudi Arabia as tensions simmer with Iran

  • The visit comes days after Pentagon said it was bolstering its forces in the Kingdom amid tensions with Iran
  • In October, the Pentagon said it was deploying new US troops to Saudi Arabia following attacks on Saudi oil plants

RIYADH: US Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, with tensions simmering between the United States and Iran, and Russia seeking to increase its regional influence.
Al-Ekhbariyah television gave no details on the previously unannounced visit, which comes after Esper visited Afghanistan.
Esper is likely to meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his first trip to the key Middle East ally since he took office this summer, a visit intended partly to reassure Riyadh over bilateral ties.

US-Iran tensions have risen to new highs since May 2018, when the Trump administration withdrew from a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran that put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of sanctions.
The United States has deployed military forces to Saudi Arabia to bolster the Kingdom’s defenses after an attack on oil sites last month.
The Sept. 14 attack knocked out two major processing facilities of state oil giant Aramco in Khurais and Abqaiq, roughly halving Saudi Arabia’s oil production.
Washington condemned the attacks as a “act of war” but neither the Saudis nor the United States have overtly retaliated.

Esper said that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defense batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, bringing to about 3,000 the total number of troops deployed there since last month.
Despite the additional troops, there are questions about the US commitment to allies in the region after Trump announced a sudden withdrawal from northeastern Syria, opening the door for Russia to increase its influence in the Middle East.
A senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States still wanted to be seen as the partner of choice in the region and Russia was not as dependable, whether it be the level of training or the military equipment it can provide.
President Vladimir Putin signalled Moscow’s growing Middle East clout last week on his first visit to Saudi Arabia in over a decade, buoyed by Russian military gains in Syria, strong ties with Riyadh’s regional rivals and energy cooperation.
(With Reuters and AFP)