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US, UK blast Yemeni strike on Saudi Arabia; Ansarullah calls it ‘natural reaction’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab at a joint press conference in London, May 3, 2021. (Photo by US Embassy)

The top American and British diplomats have hit out at the latest missile and drone attack by Yemen that targeted Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province on Saturday.

In a statement on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken termed the operation “completely unacceptable”, and said such attacks “threaten the lives of the Kingdom’s residents, including more than 70,000 US citizens.”

“We once again urge the Houthis to agree to a comprehensive ceasefire immediately and to stop these cross-border attacks and attacks inside of Yemen, particularly their offensive on Ma'rib, which is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis and prolonging the conflict,” the statement read, addressing the mainstream movement comprising the regular Yemeni army, which is resisting the Saudi aggression.

The US embassy in Riyadh said it “categorically condemns the recent Houthi missile attack on the Eastern region of the Kingdom”.

The Ansarallah movement, which has been fighting a Saudi-imposed war on Yemen since 2015, claimed responsibility for the retaliatory attack, saying it struck the Saudi oil giant Aramco's facilities at Ras Tanura in the city of Dammam with Sammad-3 drones and a Zulfiqar ballistic missile.

The movement also launched attacks on other Aramco facilities in the southern Saudi provinces of Jizan and Najran, spokesperson for Yemeni armed forces Gen. Yahya Saree announced.

“As part of confronting the crimes of [the Saudi-led] aggression against our country, our armed forces carried out the 7th Operation Balanced Deterrence, targeting vital facilities and military bases of the Saudi enemy,” he said in a televised statement on Sunday, according to Yemen’s al-Masirah television.

The British government also reacted to the operation with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab calling it the “reckless behavior” by the Ansrallah resistance fighters, while blaming Iran for “facilitating it”.

The UK condemns the multiple ballistic missile attacks launched towards Saudi Arabia last night.

This is reckless behaviour by the Houthis, facilitated by Iran, which threatens innocent civilians and hinders efforts towards regional stability.

— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) September 5, 2021

Mohammed Bakhiti, a member of the Ansarallah group's political bureau, termed the operation a “natural reaction” to actions of “the aggressor countries”.

Referring to recent bombings of Ma'rib, a strategic gateway from the central highlands to southern and eastern Yemeni provinces, by Saudi Arabia and its allies in the war, the senior Ansarallah official called out the international community’s double standards.

“Recently, they were proud that they bombed Ma'rib 170 times,” he said, “and we did not see any condemnation from outside.”

He stressed that the Sana'a-based National Salvation Government in Yemen seeks “complete liberation of the country's lands” from the foreign occupying forces.

“A distinction must be made between liberating Yemen from all foreign occupying forces and a monopoly on political decision-making,” he was quoted as saying. 

He asserted that Ansarullah does not intend to monopolize political decision-making in the Yemeni capital, but strives toward a process that takes along all groups across the political spectrum.

“We are not targeting any political spectrum, our goal is to liberate Yemen from foreign forces,” al-Bakhti said. “In addition, there is military pressure on Riyadh to force it to accept a political solution after the depth of its territory is targeted.”

The Ansarullah official further underlined that peace in the war-ravaged country is not possible “except by lifting the siege, stopping the aggression and completely withdrawing foreign forces.”

Referring to the movement’s stance on secessionism in southern Yemen, the official said “not all people” want separation.

“We are ready for dialogue, even with those who want secession,” he declared, noting that most people in the south want to continue the struggle for the liberation of the occupied territories.

Yemen has been battling foreign aggression and chaos since 2015, when Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a devastating war against the poorest Middle Eastern country in a bid to reinstall the unpopular government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in Sana’a.

The war while failing to reach its objectives has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemeni civilians and triggered the worst humanitarian catastrophe in modern history.

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