Sana’a (GPA) – Yemeni forces have announced a large-scale operation targeting multiple strategic military sites deep beyond the Saudi border on Monday. These attacks come in response to the consistent Saudi targeting of Yemeni civilians, vital infrastructure, and devastating blockade which have ravaged the only republic on the Arabian Peninsula for half a decade.
The US-backed Saudi-led coalition has not halted its attacks against Yemeni civilians nor lifted the blockade despite the COVID-19 pandemic and related plunging oil prices. A similar Yemeni operation on Aramco during this time of record-low demand for Saudi oil could destroy the Saudi economy, forcing Riyadh to end its genocidal war permanently.
Yemen’s Armed Forces send warning to Riyadh, launch a large-scale attack on key Saudi military sites
Yemen’s armed forces launched a multi-prong attack against several critical Saudi military sites inside the kingdom’s own territory on Monday. Targets included the Saudi Defense Ministry, nearby Intelligence Ministry, and the main Saudi Air Force base in Riyadh which also houses at least 2,500 US troops — possibly more. Yemeni forces also targeted key Saudi military sites closer to the Yemeni border in Jizan and Najran provinces.
Speaking at a press conference in the Yemeni capital Sana’a, spokesman brigadier-general Yahya Saree named the operation “Fourth Balance Deterrence” and called it the largest attack of its kind.
2- In response to the continuation unjust siege and brutal aggression against our great Yemeni people and our dear country, the Yemeni Armed Forces, with the grace of God Almighty, carried out the largest offensive operation, "the Fourth Balance of Deterrence", which
— Yahya Sare'e (@YahyaSare) June 23, 2020
including the Ministry of Defense , Intelligence , Salman Air Force Base and military bases in Jizan and Najran.
The Yemeni Armed Forces warn the enemy of continuing its aggression, criminality and the practice of its criminal siege , affirming its legitimate and unwavering
— Yahya Sare'e (@YahyaSare) June 23, 2020
Brigadier-general Saree said his forces used a barrage of domestically produced weapons including long-range missiles, unmanned kamikaze drones, and winged cruise missiles. He also hinted that Yemeni forces used a new type of long-range missile during the operation which Saree said should be unveiled in the coming days.
Yemen’s Sana’a-based de facto government led by the Ansarullah movement began investing considerable time, resources, and energy into building a domestic arsenal immediately after Riyadh launched its war against the country. The republic’s investment has paid off dearly with Yemeni forces managing to maintain and retake territory and protect Yemeni lives from Saudi-backed troops armed with the most innovative American weapons.
Yemen’s domestic weapon arsenal and military success has become quite the embarrassment for the Wahhabi kingdom.
Yemen strikes back in response to genocidal siege amid pandemic
In his announcement, brigadier-general Saree vowed similar attacks until Saudi Arabia and their allies end their genocidal war against his country:
We will carry out more and more powerful military operations until the siege is lifted, the aggression is stopped, and freedom and independence are achieved.
Monday’s attacks come as Yemenis fight for their lives against the Saudi’s devastating siege, airstrikes on civilians, and now, the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 death rate in Yemen stands at over 25% due to the poor status of the country’s healthcare system. An ongoing crisis before the pandemic, Yemen’s Health Ministry spokesman, Yousuf Al-Haidari, told Geopolitics Alert in October that hospitals across the country were preparing to close due to lack of resources like equipment, medicines, nurses, fuel, and staff.
The Saudi land-sea-air blockade crippled Yemen’s healthcare sector by design — killing tens of thousands and weaponizing diseases like cholera. Pregnant women, cancer patients, diabetics, the elderly, children, and patients with chronic diseases are most at risk and even more so now with the threat of COVID-19.
“More than 200,000 patients need to travel abroad for treatment and cannot because of the closure. We lose about 30-50 patients daily,” Haidari told Geopolitics Alert.
Later in March, Dr. Haidari told Geopolitics Alert he believed Saudi Arabia had started airdropping masks contaminated with the coronavirus into Yemen’s most impoverished areas, pointing to suspicious packages filled with medical masks. Dr. Haidari said it was very “strange” and “unrealistic” for Riyadh to suddenly care about Yemeni lives after exasperating the unprecedented cholera epidemic and other diseases.
Systemically targeting civilians and vital infrastructure
While Yemeni forces target Saudi military sites and key economic targets to avoid civilian deaths, Saudi Arabia systemically targets civilian areas to inflate casualty counts.
Saudi-led airstrikes and military operations have killed over 100 thousand people since the war began in March of 2015 and injured thousands more.
US-backed Saudi airstrikes routinely target civilian homes and infrastructure including homes, elementary schools, farms, water treatment facilities, factories, government buildings, bustling weekend markets, funerals, weddings, historical sites, vehicles, and more.
One particularly gruesome attack involved bombing a school bus and killing over 50 children. Another in 2016 targeted a funeral hall, killing or injuring over 800 people. Saudi warplanes once bombed a busy fish market in impoverished Hodeidah province and subsequently targeted the hospital entrance as medical staff rushed patients inside, killing and injuring roughly 200 people.
It’s common for the Saudi Air Force to initially bomb a home or crowded area then continue hovering overhead waiting for ambulances, media, and rescuers to enter the scene before bombing again. These are known as double-tap airstrikes.
As of July 2018, Saudi airstrikes had destroyed enough Yemeni homes to fill a large city: over 400 thousand.
The United States provides endless military equipment, precision-guided smart missiles, and weaponry as well as training, surveillance, and logistical support for selecting airstrike targets. Washington has provided such support — including naval enforcement of the blockade — since Riyadh began the war under the Obama regime in 2015 and continued after the Trump regime took office.
Reports from the United Nations Human Rights Council have concluded that US-Saudi airstrikes on civilians as intentional, citing the use of precision-guided smart weapons. Despite this, the international community has failed to hold Washington or Riyadh responsible for their war crimes or end the genocidal war.
Another Yemeni attack on Aramco could spell the end for Saudi Arabia in Yemen — and possibly beyond
Yemen’s Sana’a government doesn’t stoop to the Saudi level of targeting civilians to sow fear in the populace. Instead, Yemeni forces led by Ansarullah hit Saudi Arabia where it hurts: their wallet.
Back in September, Yemeni brigadier-general Saree revealed a month-long operation behind enemy lines after an extremely high-profile Yemeni attack on Saudi Arabia’s treasured Aramco oil facility with ten kamikaze drones — the most impressive attack of its kind from Yemen since the beginning of the war.
The successful offensive knocked out half of Riyadh’s oil output, drove up global crude prices, and forced Saudi Arabia to actually import oil for the first time in history. The attack was so successful that Washington prepared to tap its strategic emergency oil reserves to balance the international market.
The Yemeni attack on Aramco also forced Riyadh to push its IPO through just two months later out of fear valuation would fall. Instead of debuting on stock exchanges in New York or London, Aramco’s IPO was released on local Gulf exchanges in December and debuted below its target value of $2 trillion.
Now Aramco — and the entire Saudi economy — face a new threat: record-low oil demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic-related plummeting oil demand, Riyadh had just launched an oil price war with Moscow to drive down prices at their own behest. Well, hindsight is always 20/20.
Ongoing efforts under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Vision 2030 to diversify the kingdom’s economy have failed. The Saudi economy and the kingdom’s robust state welfare programs still rely entirely on oil sales, specifically Aramco.
Monday’s robust Yemeni attacks on key Saudi military facilities in Riyadh intended to send a stark message without saying a word: End the war and siege and Aramco won’t get hurt.
Head of Sana’a’s National Delegation, Mohammed Abdulsalam, eluded to such an attack in a tweet on Tuesday, stating the next operation would be “more severe.”
إيقاف العدوان ورفع الحصار هدفٌ إنساني ووطني لشعبنا اليمني المظلوم، وعلى تحالف العدوان أن يتعاطى بجدية مع عملية توازن الردع الرابعة والتي تنذرُ بإذن الله بما هو أشد.
— محمد عبدالسلام (@abdusalamsalah) June 23, 2020
Travel, whether by vehicle or air, isn’t expected to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels for some time. Even with restrictions lifting, many consumers and business travelers simply don’t feel comfortable traveling. The oil price war with Russia and pandemic lockdown were the first two nails in the coffin for the oil-reliant Saudi economy.
Another devastating Yemeni attack on Aramco could be the final nail in the coffin for the Saudi economy.
Saudi Arabia doesn’t seem to mind its own civilian casualties because it hires Sudanese and Blackwater mercenaries to do its dirty work. However, Riyadh does certainly care about its economy which can’t stand another hit during the pandemic.
Riyadh’s genocidal war against Yemen is very costly in its own right — costing the kingdom roughly $200 million per day. Another Yemeni attack on Aramco like September’s could be the catalyst to finally force Riyadh to end the war. Further crippling the Saudi economy by knocking out Aramco production could also force Saudis to slash their generous social welfare subsidies, putting the kingdom’s ruling class at risk for uprisings.
If the Saudis don’t respond to Sana’a’s justified threats and end the war, this scenario could very well happen soon.
Owner and editor of Geopolitics Alert, Randi Nord is a US-based geopolitical analyst and content strategist. She covers US imperialism with a special focus on Yemen, Iran, and Lebanon. She has participated in the UNHRC as a guest of NGOs and speaks at anti-war events.