Analysis - Crippling response: Which Saudi ports are within Yemeni fire range?

Analysis - Crippling response: Which Saudi ports are within Yemeni fire range?

The last week seizure of the UAE ship by Yemen's Ansarullah Movement off Yemen coast dealt a heavy blow to the sea dominance of the Saudi-led Arab coalition and marked a turning point in beginning of collapse of the inhumane several-year blockade on Yemen especially in the sea.

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The last week seizure of the UAE ship by Yemen's Ansarullah Movement off Yemen coast dealt a heavy blow to the sea dominance of the Saudi-led Arab coalition and marked a turning point in beginning of collapse of the inhumane several-year blockade on Yemen especially in the sea. 

The blow incited the Arab alliance to resort to an array of ways to pressure the revolutionary Yemeni movement to release the vessel. The threat to strike Yemen's ports is among the most important threats made by the Saudis and Emiratis to force Sana'a to step back from its stances. 

After the incident, the Saudis first tried to paint Sana'a's defensive and completely legitimate move an act of aggression and, as reported in their media, a kind of piracy, and downplay their defeat and Yemeni victory. The ploy, however, did not go anywhere following the display of confiscated arms on board the Emirati ship by Yemeni state television. Actually, by showing the Emirates arms on board the ship, the Yemenis prevented the Saudis from convincing the international community of Sana'a's threat to the international navigation. This has been the pretext used by the Arab aggression coalition and its Western allies to continue the inhumane siege of Yemen and even to prevent the delivery of humanitarian aids to the Yemenis suffering the gravest crisis caused by the war Saudi Arabia waged on them since 2015. 

However, the Saudis have not given up their psychological warfare and propaganda against Sana'a, claiming that Ansarullah has used the ports as military bases and arms smuggling centers and their revenues to finance its operations. The accusations, many analysts agree, seems to have been made to justify future attacks on Yemeni ports on the east coast, especially the ports of Hudaidah and Mocha. In an attempt to justify the attacks on Yemeni ports, Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the Arab coalition, claimed that there was "evidence" that Ansarullah militarily used the ports of Hudaidah and Al-Salif. 

The plan to strike the civil lifelines where humanitarian aids can enter Yemen to save lives of civilians who are struggling with famine and disease amid full destruction of the country's health infrastructure as a result of 7 years of unabated Saudi-Emirati bombardment comes as apparent victory is made by the Yemeni resistance forces. 

The Yemeni side, however, strongly rejected the Saudi claims, with foreign minister of the Sana'a-based National Salvation Government saying these are all efforts justifying the attacks on Yemeni ports and lay bare to the world the "humiliating defeat of the Saudis." 

Moreover, Yemen Ports Authority in a statement said: "The coalition must know that attacks on the ports of Hudaidah are a violation of human rights and all international protocols, including the Geneva Convention and its Additional Protocols, under which attacks on vital facilities are a crime." 

But the excuses of Saudi Arabia and its supporters to attack Yemeni ports and vital economic arteries of during the war are repeated as Ansarullah have already said they would accept international supervision for performance of Yemen ports. In October last year, Mohammad Abdul Salam, Ansarullah's chief negotiator, told Reuters news agency Sana'a was ready to cooperate with Djibouti-based United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM) to move towards lifting the Saudi-imposed blockade. 

Crippling response awaiting Saudi and Emirati ports 

As Saudi and Emirati threats to ports of Yemen mount, Yemeni reciprocal strikes look undoubtedly possible.

It should be taken into consideration that in recent years reciprocal threats to the coalition's economic centers have increasingly become part of Sana'a military deterrence doctrine. When it comes to potential war of ports, Yemen has the capability to launch reciprocal attacks. Last year, Hesham Sharaf Abdullah, an Ansarullah leader, warned the Arab coalition about Yemen starvation and implied attacks on the Saudi and Emirati ports could be launched. 

"As some may think, Sana'a will not remain indifferent. If the Yemeni ports remain under blockade, the enemy's ports would not be safe," he went on. 

Undoubtedly, looking at the military capabilities of the Yemeni army, it is possible to attack the ports and shipping lanes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE using ballistic missiles, suicide drones, fast boats, and even naval mines. 

Such operations against the Saudis have been arranged in the past. For example, on December 4, 2020, Saudi state television quoted an official as saying that an oil tanker was attacked by a boat full of explosives near the port city of Jeddah, with the ship catching fire as a result. 

In April 2021, Riyadh announced that a remote-controlled boat laden with explosives had targeted the area between the Saudi ports of Yanbu and Rabigh. 

Outbreak of war of ports can certainly deal a fatal blow to the economies of the aggression countries. 

The port of King Fahd in the city of Yanbu, 870 kilometers west of Riyadh, serves as the end point of the vital east-west pipeline of the kingdom. In this port, crude oil pumped from oil fields in the east of the country is transported directly to the Red Sea for shipping. The port plays an important role in reducing Saudi Arabia's dependence on the Iranian-controlled Strait of Hormuz in Persian Gulf. It is the second busiest port on the west coast of Saudi Arabia. Yanbu is also home to three oil refineries that can process 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day. 

Jeddah Islamic Port is the main Saudi port, which is located on the west coast of the country in the Red Sea, 70 kilometers west of Mecca. 

Other Saudi ports within Ansarullah fire range include: 

King Abdulaziz Port which is the second busiest commercial port in the country after Jeddah, located near Aramco oil giant. 

The Port of Jizan which is located in the city of Jizan on the Red Sea coast, about 305 kilometers from the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. 

The port of Duba which is located in Tabuk region in the northwest of the kingdom. Duba, which is also name of a city, is one of the oldest ports on the Red Sea coast. It is the closest Saudi port to Suez Canal and ferries and ships operate from it for Egypt and Jordan.



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