AL-MUKALLA: The internationally recognized government of Yemen has strongly condemned Houthi ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia on Saturday night, saying that the Houthis sought to pressure the Kingdom to halt its military support to their Yemeni opponents.
“We strongly condemn the cowardly terrorist attack by the Houthi militia on Riyadh and Jizan,” Yemen’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The government said that the Iran-backed Houthis were not serious about making peace in Yemen as their attack came shortly after they welcomed a UN call for a truce in Yemen.
“This is Iran’s continued strategy for deepening the suffering of the Yemeni people,” the statement said.
In the port city of Aden, Salem Al-Khanbashi, Yemen’s deputy prime minister, linked Houthi missile attacks to fresh territorial gains by the government backed by Arab coalition warplanes, noting that the Houthis wanted the Kingdom to stop its military support, which blocks their advances on the ground.
“This is a natural reaction to the victories in Nehim, Serwah and Jawf,” Al-Khanbashi said, referring to raging battlefields where government forces battle major Houthi offensives.
Military commanders and officials say that massive air support and military logistics from the Saudi-led coalition helped Yemen’s army troops and allied tribesmen push back Houthi attacks on Marib’s Kawfal military base and recapture areas in the northern province of Jawf.
Hundreds of Houthi fighters have been killed over the past couple of months in airstrikes by the coalition’s warplanes.
“The Houthis targeted the Kingdom since it’s the leader of the coalition. The coalition has contributed to the successes on the ground,” Al-Khanbashi said.
When the Houthis supported the UN call for a cease-fire to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, many Yemeni officials questioned their stand, arguing that Houthi actions on the ground and their breaches of the previous deal showed that they would not stick to their word.
“This is an untrusted group. They have not put into place arrangements related to the Stockholm Agreement such as releasing prisoners and lifting their siege,” Al-Khanbashi said.
Yemeni officials also think the Houthis positively responded to the truce calls to get a commendation from the UN.
Experts also believe that the Houthis shelled the Saudi cities with ballistic missiles to warn the Kingdom against maintaining its support of the Yemeni government.
Yasser Al-Yafae, a political analyst based in Aden, told Arab News that Saudi military support had played an important role in shoring-up government forces that fight off Houthi attacks on the central city of Marib.
“They want to force the Kingdom to stop airstrikes that obstruct their continuous push on Marib,” Al-Yafae said.
Houthi missile attacks on the Kingdom also boosted calls by Yemeni military commanders for intensifying military pressure on the Houthis on all battlefields, including the western city of Hodeida, instead of seeking peace from the rebels. Houthis have exploited the truce in the western city of Hodeida for regrouping and escalating attacks on other fronts, Yemeni officers said.
Rafeq Doumah, a military officer from the pro-government Tehama Brigades in Hodeida, said that the Houthi missile attack was proof that the Houthis did not want peace, or respected any agreement, calling for the resumption of a military offensive on Hodeida city that was stopped following the Stockholm deal.
“The only solution (is that army) troops march toward Hodeida and Saada,” he said.