Saudi Arabia said it evacuated an Iranian crew member from a “hostile” ship off the coast of Yemen amid its war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, the second-such aid it has offered in recent weeks amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The Saudi military flew rescue paramedics to the Saviz, an Iranian vessel some 95 nautical miles northwest of Yemen’s contested port city of Hodeida, spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki said. They then flew the injured Iranian to a military hospital in Jizan, Maliki said. Iran’s mission to the United Nations had made a request to aid the Iranian, Maliki said. The mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. “The leadership of the joint forces has dealt with the situation according to what is dictated by our Islamic religion and human values, despite the threat represented by this suspect vessel, and the hostile acts it carries out against coalition forces and the interests of the Yemeni people and its continued threats to maritime routes and global trade in the Red Sea,” Maliki said in a statement Tuesday. The statement did not elaborate. Saudi Arabia and Iran are chief Mideast rivals and the Saudis since 2017 have alleged the Saviz served as a maritime base and weapons transshipment point for Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. Briefing materials from the Saudi military earlier obtained by The Associated Press showed men on the vessel dressed in camouflaged military-style fatigues, as well as small boats capable of ferrying cargo to
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis have stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia this week in a resurgence of tactics that had largely subsided since late last year amid United Nations-led peace efforts. The latest hostilities coincide with rising tensions between Iran and Gulf Arab states allied to the United States and come just as a sensitive, U.N.-sponsored peace deal is being carried out in Yemen’s main port of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions. The Houthis, who claimed responsibility for last week’s armed drone strikes on oil assets in Saudi Arabia, said on Tuesday that one of their drones hit an arms depot at the kingdom’s Najran airport near the Yemeni border, causing a fire. The Saudi-led military coalition said a civilian facility in Najran province was targeted with an explosive-laden drone. It said on Monday that Saudi defence forces intercepted Houthi ballistic missiles fired towards Mecca, Islam’s holiest site. The Houthis denied doing so. On Sunday, the Houthis said they would attack 300 vital military targets in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Saudi Arabia and the UAE head a Western-backed coalition of Sunni Muslim states that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government ousted from power in the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014. The movement has during the war repeatedly targeted Saudi cities and vital installations – mostly in border areas, but on several occasions the capital Riyadh as well. The Houthis pledged last November to stop
Houthi fighters and pro-government forces battled in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah on Wednesday, breaching a ceasefire and potentially complicating a troop withdrawal agreement intended to pave the way for wider peace talks. Hodeidah port, which has been under Houthi control, is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis threatened by starvation because of the war as it is the main entry point for food imports and aid. The Houthi withdrawal from Hodeidah and two other Red Sea ports began on Saturday and was the most significant advance yet in efforts to end the four-year-old war. The United Nations said on Tuesday the ports had been handed over to a coast guard and the pullout was going to plan. But both sides reported renewed clashes on Wednesday. Houthi-run media said pro-government forces had hit various parts of Hodeidah city, including the airport, with heavy and medium weapons. It did not say if they were Yemeni troops or members of an international military coalition led by Saudi Arabia which backs President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Aden-based government The coalition-backed forces said in a report that Houthi fighters tried to infiltrate Hodeidah and the al-Duraihmi area to its south but pro-government troops foiled them. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a leading member of the coalition, have yet to comment on the Houthi withdrawal. The coalition has forces massed on Hodeidah’s outskirts and under the withdrawal plan’s first phase, they are supposed to eventually also draw back. ATTACKS ON SAUDIS The flare-up
Defying President Donald Trump, senators sent a strong signal that they want to punish Saudi Arabia for its role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. By a bipartisan 63-37 vote, the Senate opted to move forward with legislation calling for an end to U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
An estimated 10,000 people have been killed so far and the conflict has devastated Yemen and pushed it to the brink of famine. The war has also left around two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 27 million relying on aid, and over 8 million at risk of starvation. “The economic collapse is Yemen’s silent killer; many Yemenis are struggling just to survive,” said Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s director for Yemen.
United Nations-mediated peace talks on Yemen appeared to be in jeopardy on Thursday with no sign in Geneva of the delegation from the Houthi movement on the first day. Martin Griffiths, the U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen conceded there were “challenges” in bringing the parties together in the Swiss city, but still wanted to see the delegation from the Houthi-held capital of Sanaa arrive.