Houthis threaten to torpedo Saudi warships with new ‘underwater missiles’

Houthi forces showcased what they claimed were their newest anti-ship missiles, threatening to target Saudi warships “very soon.” The warning comes days after a missile fired from Yemen was reportedly shot down near the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Houthi forces recently unveiled what they said was their newest “torpedo missile,” allegedly capable of hitting enemy targets at sea. A video uploaded by the Al-Masdar news agency shows what appears to be a number of rockets on static display. Each projectile featured a warhead, several stabilizers and a tail.

Shiite rebels, backed by Iran, claimed the new weapon, dubbed ‘Al-Manbab,’ could be deployed “very soon” against Saudi warships blockading Yemeni ports. However, it is yet to be confirmed whether the video is authentic and the torpedoes are operational.

The lingering war in Yemen is steadily taking on a new dimension as the rebels deploy more modern weapons in their fight against Saudi-led coalition forces. On Saturday, Saudi Arabia’s Air Force reportedly shot down a ballistic missile heading towards King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh, the kingdom’s capital.

Responding to the reported attack, Saudi Arabia and its allies temporarily closed all of Yemen's land border crossings, sea ports and airports. The kingdom also blamed Iran for aiding the Houthi militias, saying the latest missile launch could be considered an “act of war.”

"Iran's role and its direct command of its Houthi proxy in this matter constitutes a clear act of aggression that targets neighboring countries, and threatens peace and security in the region and globally," reads a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency.

In September, Houthi rebels said Saudi oil tankers were within reach of their ballistic missiles, according to Reuters. Yemeni rebel leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said in a televised speech that his group’s missiles were also capable of reaching the United Arab Emirates’ capital of Abu Dhabi and any place in Saudi Arabia. 

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It is unclear whether the Houthi forces are able to carry out their threats, but at least one such attack has been a success. In January this year, a Saudi warship, presumably one of four Al Madinah-class frigates, was allegedly hit by a guided anti-ship missile, according to Al-Masirah television network citing an unnamed source in the Yemeni rebel forces.

The attack took place near the port city of Hodeida, 150km southwest of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, according to a source who said the “aggressor’s warship involved in attacks on Yemeni cities and fishermen” was “destroyed” as a result. The Saudi-led coalition command acknowledged that at least two sailors were killed, but said the warship was targeted in a “suicide boat” attack.