By Arab News
By Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri*
The Houthis have attacked again. This time they hit the oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais. In the past, they have attacked oil pipelines, airports and densely populated civilian areas.
Today’s attack, however, illustrates yet again the vile nature of what is an Iran-aligned terrorist militia. It was because of this militia that Saudi Arabia in 2015 — at the invitation of the legitimate Yemeni government — launched Operation Decisive Storm.
Very early on, Saudi Arabia saw the Iranian gameplan of creating a Hezbollah-like terrorist entity on the Kingdom’s southern border. The Houthis in Yemen did exactly what Hezbollah was doing in Lebanon: They held the government hostage, took over the country at gunpoint and made themselves, at the prodding and insistence of Iran, a danger to all Yemen’s neighbors.
Saudi Arabia through diplomatic channels explained this to the wider world. It put forth a valid explanation as to why the Houthis should be uprooted from Yemen and disarmed. Unfortunately, the world community saw what was happening as nothing more than a conflict between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis — which is and was never the case.
Today’s attacks make it amply clear that Iran, through the Houthis, wants to disrupt the flow of oil to world markets. Since Tehran is feeling the bite of US sanctions, it wants to create chaos and mayhem in the region and today’s attacks must be seen in that context. The attacks are a direct challenge to the world community; they will have an effect on each and every country in the world, which depends, even partially, on Saudi oil to turn the wheels of its industry.
According to reports, drones were used in these most recent coordinated attacks. Why drones? Because Saudi Arabia had earlier managed to intercept and neutralize more than 200 missiles that were fired at it by the Houthis. The terrorist militia has begun using drones perhaps because drones are difficult to intercept. The world community must understand the danger that these militias pose in terms of the arsenal at their command. They have no qualms about unleashing the drones and missiles on civilian populations and vital installations. This should be all the more reason for the world community to speak in one voice and to join hands with Saudi Arabia in neutralizing the terrorist militia.
Saudi Arabia has played its part in maintaining stability in the oil market. It has pumped more oil to keep markets steady during critical times. It has always acted responsibly as a key player in the international community. This Houthi terrorism is an issue for the whole world and therefore requires a robust international response. Saudi Arabia should not be alone in this fight. Just as the world stood together in its fight against Al-Qaeda after 9/11 and more recently against Daesh, there has to be a concerted, sustained and coordinated global response to finish off the Houthi terror machine. The group has crossed all limits and has become a danger to world peace and stability. The Houthis are no different from Al-Qaeda or Daesh, and just as Al-Qaeda and Daesh have been crushed through united global action, so the Houthis need crushing as well.
Now is the time for the global community to wake up. Saudi Arabia has done all it can in its fight against terrorism. It must be understood that it would be easy for Saudi Arabia to obliterate the Houthis, but the Kingdom is held back by the knowledge that such action would lead to catastrophic civilian casualties.
The Houthis have time and again thwarted efforts to hold dialogue and end their terrorist behavior. Recently, there were even talks of their holding a dialogue with the US. Today’s attacks show that they are not serious in doing anything and are merely interested in pulling the wool over the eyes of the international community. This has gone on for five years and the Houthis have become bolder and bolder with their acts of terror. This cannot go on for another five years. There are limits to Saudi Arabia’s patience. There has to be firm and decisive action against the Houthis because this is not only Saudi Arabia’s war but a war for all peace-loving nations who do not want a terrorist militia to hold its people and neighboring countries ransom. It should now be clear that there should be zero tolerance for the Houthis, their agenda and their terrorist attacks.
• Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri is a political analyst and international relations scholar.