Sana’a (GPA) – For the past four years, mainstream media outlets have either twisted or completely ignored the US-backed Saudi-led war against Yemen. Yes, Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. However, the media also tends to ignore another crucial aspect of the war: the ever-advancing Yemen missile and defense program. The infographic below details the advancements Yemen’s missile program in the face of war.
The revolutionary government led by Ansarullah began domestic Yemen missile production almost immediately after Saudi Arabia initiated its airstrike campaign in March of 2015. Riyadh’s goal at the time was to reinstate the disgraced and ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi who Yemenis widely consider a puppet figure for Saudi Arabia and Western powers. Hadi fled the country by boat and currently resides in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia’s secondary goal was to squash the growing Ansarullah movement which mainstream media outlets simply refer to as “the Houthis.”
However, the Saudi coalition and its allies severely underestimated the organization, strength, and political power of the Ansarullah movement. Riyadh launched its war with little analysis of the situation or regard for the long-term outcome. It seems that the coalition foolishly believed its aggression wouldn’t last more than a few months, let alone over four years. (The end of March will mark the four-year anniversary.)
“It is very clear that the Saudis did not do their homework before they went into Yemen,” Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemeni visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon told the New York Times in 2015. “They thought it would be really easy, but it has not turned out that way.”
In fact, just a few days after beginning air raids in March of 2015, Saudi Arabia proudly announced that it had destroyed Ansarullah’s weapon stockpiles. Little did the coalition know that four years later it would face unprecedented resistance from the ever-growing Yemen missile program.
A History of the Yemen Missile Program for Defense
On June 6, 2015, just a few months after the Saudis proudly announced destroying weapons stockpiles, Yemen’s Rocketry Force revealed its first domestically produced ballistic missile: a modified Scud with a range of over 800 km which Yemeni forces used to attack the King Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Airport in southern Saudi Arabia.
To the surprise of Saudi Arabia and its allies, Yemen’s missile production continued expanding at a rapid rate.
On September 7 of 2016, Yemen’s Rocketry Force unveiled a major advancement: the Burkan H-1, a ballistic missile with a range of 800. Yemen’s military engineers continued working to create various versions of the Burkan missile before revealing the Burkan H-2 on July 22 of 2017.
With the Burkan H-2, Yemeni missiles evaded US Patriot missile defense systems for the first time on their way to the King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh.
In March of 2018, Yemen’s Rocketry Force revealed the Badr-1: a short-range missile system. On its maiden launch, the Badr-1 struck a Saudi Aramco facility in Najran province. In a tit-for-tat strategy, Yemeni forces have expanded their operations into three Saudi provinces in retaliation for the ongoing airstrike campaign. The Badr-1P, a smart missile system, came into production a few months later.
What or Who is Behind the Yemen Missile Program?
Saudi Arabia and its coalition allies routinely blame Iran for supporting Ansarullah’s ballistic missile program but the evidence simply doesn’t exist to prove this.
In fact, documents from the Yemeni Ministry of Defense show that both the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) purchased ballistic missiles from the Soviet Union and Korea during the Cold War in the 1980s and onward.
In fact, the late Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh was a close ally of former U.S. President George W. Bush during the early years of the “War on Terror.” During that time, Saleh received substantial military assistance — at least $400 million worth of weapons and equipment — from the United States. The Ansarullah movement and its allies took control of the weapon storage facilities during the 2014 revolution.
As for small arms, Yemen ranks in the top two for the number of weapons per capita — second only to the United States.
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Yemen’s Defense Program Goes Far Beyond Missiles
The small country’s defense capabilities stretch far beyond the Yemen missile program. For the past four years, Yemen’s military engineers have worked to develop advanced defense capabilities for the Army, Air Force, and Navy as well.
Under President Saleh’s rule, Yemen’s military development was extremely restricted to avoid becoming a genuine threat to the Saudi kingdom and US hegemony. However, this has changed under Ansarullah’s leadership.
In February 2017, Yemen unveiled four domestically manufactured drones: Qasef-1, Hudhud-1, Raqib, and Rased, all of which perform a variety of tasks such as aerial monitoring, battlefield observation, and geophysical surveying.
In January of 2019, Yemen’s Air Force revealed a stealth kamikaze drone, the K2. Yemen’s Air Force first used the new K2 drone to target a gathering of high-ranking Saudi military leaders and mercenaries on Thursday at the al-Anad military base in Yemen’s Lahj province.
Yemen has also drastically expanded its naval defense capability. In November of 2017, Yemen’s Naval and Coastal Defense unveiled a powerful line of missiles to defend the country’s Red Sea territory.
The Need for and Right to Adequate Self Defense
For nearly the past four years, Saudi Arabia and its allies have essentially bombed and invaded Yemen into oblivion. US-backed Saudi airstrikes typically target large gatherings of people such as crowded markets, funerals, and even school buses full of children.
Ahmed Abdulrahman, a political science student in Sana’a, told Geopolitics Alert that he’s proud of his country’s advanced domestic missile program in spite of the deadly siege.
“I’m so proud of what the Yemeni missile force has achieved during the past three years. The Missile Force has worked on developing Yemen’s missiles capabilities under a suffocating siege and a total ban on all raw materials. All made by Yemeni hands. Yemen’s Missile Force is the biggest deterrent to the US-Saudi coalition. It operates out of a legitimate right to self-defense in response to the genocide carried out by the coalition in Yemen”
Over the past summer, Saudi Arabia used US-supplied precision-guided munitions to attack a school bus filled with dozens of children on their way to summer camp. Over 50 children and civilians in a nearby market were killed or injured. Not long before this incident, Saudi Arabia launched attacks on a crowded fish market and subsequently bombed the hospital entrance.
In 2016, Saudi warplanes targeted a funeral killing or injuring over 500 people.
These are just a few of the countless massacres that Riyadh has carried out over the past almost four years. In fact, Riyadh orders airstrikes on civilian homes on nearly a daily basis.
As of January 2019, the US-supported war against Yemen had claimed 39,593 civilian casualties between killed and injured while destroying over 424,000 homes along with nearly all other civilian infrastructure vital for maintaining life. The Yemen missile program is the nation’s only hope for defending its people against this genocide.
It’s routine for Riyadh to order double-tap attacks on civilian targets as well. After bombing a home, school, or other civilian building, pilots will wait for ambulance crews to enter before launching a second set of attacks on the rescue crews and media personnel entering the scene.
The United States provides virtually unlimited support to the Saudi-led coalition in the form of planes, fuel, bombs, weapons, and training. Washington also provides logistical and intelligence support inside the Saudi command centers for selecting airstrike targets.
Like any nation, Yemen has a right to defend itself from this foreign aggression.
Founder 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. Born in Detroit, Michigan, she started learning about the media’s pivotal role in selling “humanitarian” interventions as a teenager during the aftermath of 9/11 and Iraq war. Randi Nord has lived in the Empire’s neoliberal tropical paradise (Kingdom of Hawai’i) and Lebanon. She frequently participates in the UN Human Rights Council as a guest of NGOs speaking about Yemen.