Yemeni rebels threaten to ‘target Saudi oil tankers’ if coalition attacks port of Hodeidah

Yemeni rebels threaten to ‘target Saudi oil tankers’ if coalition attacks port of Hodeidah
Yemeni rebel leader, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, has warned the Saudi-led coalition to think twice before attacking the port city of Hodeidah, stating that Saudi oil tankers are within target range of his group’s missiles.

“We could target Saudi oil tankers and we could do anything, we have not done this before,” al-Houthi said Thursday, according to Reuters. 

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“Today the port of Hodeidah is being threatened and we cannot turn a blind eye to that,” he said. “If the Saudi regime and with a green light from the US attack Hodeidah then we have to take steps that we haven’t taken before.”

The missiles, he said, are not only capable of striking any territory within Saudi Arabia, but can also reach the United Arab Emirates which is part of the Saudi-led coalition. Al-Houthi went on to urge commercial companies and investors to leave the country. 

“The companies which have been set up or which have investments in the UAE should no longer consider it a safe country,” Middle East Online cited al-Houthi as saying during a televised speech on Al-Masirah network.

The Houthi leader claimed the group has successfully fired a missile toward Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, underlining that Yemenis are developing their missile capabilities to reach targets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

Since March 2015, the Saudi-led coalition has been waging a military campaign in Yemen in an attempt to reinstate ousted president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and to stop the rebels from taking over the entire country after they took control of the government in 2014.

In addition, and with support from US ships, the coalition has imposed a naval blockade as well as shutting key airports in Yemen, causing severe food and water shortages. Particularly problematic is control over the port of Hodeidah, which was previously responsible for 80 percent of all food imports into the water-scarce country. The coalition accuses the rebels of using the port to smuggle weapons.

“The Saudis have created serious complications for us because of the port being blockaded to a certain degree, and the destroying of the cranes at Hodeidah port. That has substantially reduced our capacity to bring food in,” David Beasley, executive director of the United Nations World Food Program said earlier this month.

At least 10,000 Yemeni people have been killed in the ground offensive, coalition bombings and terrorist attacks since the conflict broke out, reducing the country to what the UN has called “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.”