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The Spice must flow!

Iran Crisis - March 2021

The Arab Coalition intercepted two explosive-laden drones launched by Yemen’s Houthis towards Saudi Arabia’s Jazan and Khamis Mushait on 05 March 2021, raising the number of such drone attacks to eight over the past 24 hours. The Houthi’s explosive-laden unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) were the latest in a series of escalated cross-border aerial attacks on the Kingdom by the Iran-backed militia in Yemen. This week’s attacks have injured at least seven civilians, according the Saudi authorities. Debris from intercepting six explosive drones injured ten-year-old child and a Saudi civilian who was wounded while driving his car, the civil defense said. The attacks on Jazan came days after the Coalition said it had thwarted a ballistic missile attack by the Houthis on the Saudi capital Riyadh and destroyed six armed drones launched towards cities in the Kingdom’s south.

On 07 March 2021, the Ansarallah Movement announced the implementation of “a large and joint offensive operation in the Saudi south,” from Yemen, with 14 drones and 8 ballistic missiles. In turn, Saudi Arabia confirmed that one of the oil tank yards in Ras Tanura port and a residential neighborhood in Dhahran were attacked, which did not result in injuries.

The Saudi Ministry of Defense accused Iran of providing the forces of the Ansarallah Movement, which has significantly intensified its attacks on the Kingdom, with drones and ballistic missiles. The Saudi Ministry of Defense pledged to carry out “painful strikes” against the forces of the Ansarallah Movement (Houthi forces) in response to its recent attacks on the Kingdom. The spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Defense and the Arab Coalition, Brigadier General Turki Al-Maliki, said in an interview with Al-Arabiya TV on 08 March 2021 that his country dealt with the attacks that targeted it with drones, ballistic missiles and booby-trapped boats in a manner “unique in military history.” Al-Maliki said, “We are committed to the rules of international law in our operations, unlike the Houthi militia … We have tactical and strategic patience to preserve civilians, and we are preparing for painful strikes against the Houthis.”

In relevant remarks on 08 March 2021, the Iranian foreign ministry rejected Riyadh’s allegations about Tehran’s involvement in the recent Yemeni army’s drone attacks against the Saudi targets, saying that Saudi Arabia should end the war in Yemen instead of blaming others. “The root cause of the crisis we witness in Yemen today is the war; the war that the Saudi crown prince thought could end within three weeks by killing the Yemeni people. For six years now, the Yemeni people have been defending themselves empty-handed against the European and American bombs and the most sophisticated and advanced weapons of Saudi Arabia and different bombings that have hit parts of Yemen several times with cluster bombs,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters in Tehran.

An Iranian container ship was damaged in an attack in the Mediterranean, the state-run shipping company said, adding it would take legal action to identify the perpetrators of what it called “terrorism” and naval piracy. The ship, Shahre Kord, was slightly damaged in the incident 10 March 2021 by an explosive object which caused a small fire, but no one on board was hurt, the spokesman, Ali Ghiasian, said, according to state media. “Such terrorist acts amount to naval piracy, and are contrary to international law on commercial shipping security, and legal action will be taken to identify the perpetrators through relevant international institutions,” Ghiasian said.

The vessel was headed to Europe when the attack occurred and will leave for its destination after repairs, he added. Two maritime security sources said initial indications were that the Iranian container ship had been intentionally targeted by an unknown source. The incident came two weeks after an Israeli-owned ship, the MV Helios Ray, was hit by an explosion in the Gulf of Oman. The cause was not immediately clear, although a US defence official said the blast left holes in both sides of the vessel’s hull. Israel accused Iran of being behind the explosion, a charge it denied.

Saudi Arabia is supporting the US initiative to end the war in Yemen, but the Iran-backed Houthis have not shown the same responsiveness, the top US diplomat for Yemen said 12 March 2021. “The Saudi leadership is prepared to address the conflict … and they’re providing full support for my efforts,” US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking said. But he added: “I’m looking for the same response from the other side,” in reference to the Houthis.

“We now have a sound plan for a nationwide ceasefire ... that would immediately address Yemen’s dire humanitarian situation,” he said. That plan has been with the Houthis for “a number of days.” The Houthis escalated an offensive on Yemen’s Marib, one of the government’s last strongholds in the north. And they appear disinterested in a ceasefire at this moment. “Tragically, and somewhat confusingly for me, it appears that the Houthis are prioritizing a military campaign to take Marib,” Lenderking said.

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 11:38:45 ZULU