In Call With Saudi King, Trump Condemns Iran For Houthi Missile Attack

    After the latest ballistic missile attack on Saudi Arabia by Yemeni Houthi rebel forces on Tuesday, President Trump and Saudi Arabia's King Salman agreed in a Wednesday phone call to take concrete action toward holding Iran accountable, which both countries have blamed for the attack. 

    According to the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the US President condemned Houthi attempts to target Riyadh with advanced rockets which the American administration believes are being supplied by Iran, and further stated that the recent series of attacks were serious acts of aggression threatening civilian populated areas. The leaders agreed to "hold the Iranian regime accountable for its aggressive actions" which threatens the security and stability of the region, according to a summary of the call provided by the SPA. 


    Screenshot from footage of Tuesday's launch out of Yemen, circulated by Houthi military media.

    Dramatic video showing Tuesday's ballistic missile launch targeting the location where the Saudi king was scheduled to appear.

    After Tuesday's launch, Houthi military media in Yemen said its forces had targeted Saudi Arabia’s al-Yamamah Court – the location where King Salman was due to give a national budget talk on the same day. Later reports in Yemeni media said a Burkan "Volcano" H-2 ballistic missile had targeted the royal palace in reaction to what the Houthi's call Saudi-U.S. aggression, and Saudi state-run Al Ikhbariya TV subsequently reported that a missile had been intercepted south of Riyadh, while photos purporting to show an aerial explosion were posted widely on Saudi social media. The same type of ballistic missile was used in a November 4th attack which came close to hitting Riyadh's international airport. 

    During the phone call the two leaders are also reported to have discussed UN Security Council resolutions aimed at crippling Iran's ability to stoke tensions in the region through supplying proxies in Yemen and throughout the gulf. This comes after a bizarre press conference late last week held by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in which she displayed the remnants of the rocket from the earlier failed November attack, citing it as "undeniable evidence" the Iranians were behind the launch, though a United Nations report compiled by a panel of independent experts contradicts the claim. 


    Targets of the two recent Houthi ballistic missile launches. Map source: IHS Markit via BBC

    Ironically, though the UN experts found a missile part which had an Iranian company logo imprinted, they found the missile to have American components as well. According to previous bombshell report in Foreign Policy:

    A U.N. panel of experts has reviewed missile fragments from the strike that show the missile resembles the Qiam-1, an Iranian-made Scud variant that lacks the tail fins typically found in Yemen’s previously known missile arsenal. The panel noted in a confidential report, which was obtained by Foreign Policy, that the missile also contained a tail component that bore the logo of an Iranian company targeted by U.S. and U.N. sanctions.

     

    But the panel, which reported that the missile also contained an American-made component, concluded it “has no evidence as to the identity of the broker or supplier.” While the presence of Iranian missile parts has strengthened the circumstantial case for the regime’s role in the Yemen conflict, some of Haley’s counterparts on the U.N. Security Council aren’t yet willing to point the finger at Tehran.

    The United States has consistently sided with Saudi Arabia in its claims that Iranian aggression and expansion are what's actually fueling the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, despite the fact that the Saudi-led coalition (of which the US military is a major part) has mounted a fierce aerial bombing campaign over Yemen since 2015. However, earlier this month Trump issued a rare condemnation of the long running Saudi blockade of Yemen's main ports, which is causing millions of civilians in the war-ravaged country to starve and go without medicine.

    And perhaps not coincidentally, Tuesday's Houthi missile launch came exactly 1,000 days after Saudi Arabia initiated its military campaign in Yemen.

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