Saudi Patriot systems working overtime
Saudi Arabia’s air defence capability, centred around the Patriot system, has been working overtime in recent months attempting to intercept a series of missile attacks originating from Yemen.
In November 2017 a high-profile ballistic missile attack on Riyadh international airport, conducted by militia members supporting Houthi claims in the country, brought international attention to what had become an increasingly regular occurrence.
On 5 January, AFP reported the Saudi-led coalition fighting against the Houthi’s said that a ballistic missile intercepted over southern Saudi Arabia on the same day served as proof Iran was supporting the Houthis in Yemen.
Turki al-Maliki, coalition spokesman, said: ‘This hostile act by the Iran-backed Houthis proves the Iranian regime remains implicated in supporting the armed Houthis.’
Riyadh earlier said Saudi air defences had intercepted a ballistic missile over the southern province of Najran, hours after the Houthis announced they had launched an attack on the kingdom.
Maliki said the attack ‘deliberately targeted densely populated civilian areas’ and had caused minor damage to the property of a Saudi citizen.
In December last year the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, presented what was claimed was evidence of Iran’s support of the Houthi movement in Yemen. The claim concerns the supply of munitions and support of the Houthi claim to the country, which is being contested by the Saudi-led coalition.
Gulf states have in recent years sought to both procure and upgrade Patriot systems to deter against possible aggression from within the region and counter the influence of Iran in some countries.
Also in December 2017, Riyadh warned that ‘Iranian-manufactured ballistic weapons’ threatened the kingdom's security following a foiled ballistic missile attack from Yemen.
The Saudi-led coalition intervened in support of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansur Hadi's government in March 2015, after the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa. The Houthis still control the capital and the north of the country.
A UN report in late-2017 also suggested that remnants of an unmanned shipborne-IED used to attack a Saudi naval vessel bore dual English-Farsi writing, Haley stated during a speech at a UN Security Council briefing on Iran in December.
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