Saudi Arabia Faces Increasing Air Attacks from Iraq and Yemen

(Wall Street Journal) Stephen Kalin - Saudi Arabia is facing more frequent and increasingly precise airborne attacks from Iran-linked groups in neighboring Yemen and Iraq. Drones laden with explosives, launched from Iraq, smashed into the main royal complex in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Jan. 23. At least one hit close to the front gate of al-Yamama Palace, the seat of the Saudi government. Meanwhile, Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi rebels have escalated attacks across the kingdom's southern border, including a strike this month that hit an empty passenger jet at a provincial airport. They have also launched drones and missiles against a nearby military base and Jeddah's international airport. The incidents show the expanding reach of the country's foes. They also point to the difficulties of stemming attacks by Iranian-backed groups in Iraq, which continue to present a security threat despite vows by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to rein them in. President Biden is pushing a fresh initiative to end Yemen's civil war and reviewing billions of dollars in arms sales to Riyadh, and has revoked the Houthis' designation as a foreign terrorist organization. A Saudi official said, "The U.S decision to revoke the terrorist designation of the Houthis was misinterpreted by them as a license to escalate and continue their barbaric behavior within Yemen and the region with support from Iran." Saudi-led coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki claimed the escalation in attacks was orchestrated by Iranian Revolutionary Guard generals based in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. The coalition has recorded 860 armed drone and ballistic missile attacks against Saudi Arabia since 2015. President Biden has pledged to help Saudi Arabia defend its territory. "We're not going to allow Saudi Arabia to be target practice," Timothy Lenderking, Biden's special envoy for Yemen, said Tuesday.

2021-02-22 00:00:00

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