Iranian-backed Houthis blamed for massive Aden attack in Yemen

It is unclear what comes next in the war-torn country.

Houthi troops ride on the back of a police patrol truck after participating in a Houthi gathering in Sanaa, Yemen (photo credit: KHALED ABDULLAH/ REUTERS)
Houthi troops ride on the back of a police patrol truck after participating in a Houthi gathering in Sanaa, Yemen
An unprecedented attack last week on Aden International Airport in Yemen that killed more than two dozen people was carried out by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, according to media outlets in the Gulf.
A drone with explosives was shot down after the attack, and media outlets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE have reported that ballistic missiles were involved. Iran has supplied drones and ballistic missiles to the Houthi rebels, who oppose Yemen’s new unity government.
The attack should have gained higher prominence, showing the long reach of Iran and its allies and its willingness to strike at a civilian airport and government officials. However, there has been widespread acceptance of Iran’s activities, including planting anti-ship mines, attacking Saudi Arabia and trafficking weapons across the region.
These unprecedented attacks are rarely criticized the way they should be. Instead, major media outlets describe them as “audacious” rather than criminal.
In addition, there is reticence in documenting how the attack unfolded. According to reports, it was “unclear” whether the strike was carried out by a missile or a bomb. Yemen was portrayed as a lawless vacuum on another planet rather than a country where it should be determined who instigated such massive explosions at an international airport where at least 25 people were killed.
Reports highlighted that more than 100,000 have died in Yemen’s civil war over the past five years. Houthi rebels once tried to capture Aden and gain control of the strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait that dominates access to the Red Sea.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies intervened in 2015. But the war has become a stalemate, while Iran has used the Houthis to test their drones and missiles.
According to Dominik Stillhart, director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross, “The Yemeni people have endured a terrible amount of suffering over the last five years. A day like this adds even more grief, both for the Red Cross family and for the Yemeni families who had loved ones killed or injured in this explosion.”  
The attack was caused by up to three Iranian-supplied ballistic missiles, Al Ain News in the UAE reported. Iranian missiles have been used against Saudi Arabia for years, and fragments of those weapons have found their way to the Iranian materials display in Washington, where the US shows off how Iranian weapons threaten the region.
It is unclear what will happen next in war-torn Yemen. The desire by Iran and its allies to strike at the new unity government being supported by Saudi Arabia and the UAE clearly shows how Tehran and the Houthis are afraid of it. The airport attack was an attempt to kill it off before its members could even disembark from their plane and begin work.
Iran is doing this on the eve of a new incoming US administration that is expected to be tough on Saudi Arabia regarding the Yemen war.
Riyadh is accused of causing famine and hardship in Yemen, and it appears that pressure on the kingdom to stop the war will increase. Iran’s ploy seemed to be an attempt to intensify this pressure by destroying the new unity government.