Saudi Arabia and UAE media are reporting that Saudi forces thwarted an “imminent and hostile” attack that threatened oil tankers south of the Red Sea, in a coalition statement first reported in state-run SPA.
The attempted attack reportedly involved a pair of booby-trapped boats being launched toward the tankers by Yemeni Houthi militants, from the direction of Hodeida port after the tankers crossed the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. The boats were intercepted and destroyed, according to the Saudi military.
“The Houthi militia is escalating its hostile attacks to target energy sources and the vein of global economy,” the statement, also reported in Al-Arabiya, said.
On Sunday multiple drone and missiles launched from Yemen targeted a Saudi liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant, as well as an oil facility, power station, and other key infrastructure. While there were no casualties reported from the wave of projectiles, a fire broke out at an Aramco facility in Jeddah. The “limited fire” was quickly brought under control.
For years the Houthis – who are covertly backed by Iran and who control most of northern Yemen, including Hodeidah – have threatened Red Sea shipping, also as much of the country has been under a brutal blockade by the Saudi-UAE-US coalition, which has in turn triggered what the UN has called the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis”.
At a moment the Biden administration is desperate to tap more oil amid an aggressive Western sanctions regimen targeting Russia’s exports, Riyadh is urgently asking for more US weapons, particularly anti-air defense missile systems.
At the start of this week, following Sunday’s Houthi attacks, The Wall Street Journal detailed that “The Biden administration has transferred a significant number of Patriot antimissile interceptors to Saudi Arabia within the past month, fulfilling Riyadh’s urgent request for a resupply amid sharp tensions in the relationship, senior U.S. officials said.”
“The transfers sought to ensure that Saudi Arabia is adequately supplied with the defensive munitions it needs to fend off drone and missile attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen, one of the officials said,” the report said.