Attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi militant group against Saudi Arabia have more than doubled this year from their pace last year, according to a recent report that provides details of escalating violence in the Gulf region.
During the first nine months of 2021, Houthi attacks against the Saudi kingdom averaged 78 a month, or 702 in total, said the report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington. During the same period in 2020, the report said, the monthly average was 38.
The report analyzes more than 4,100 Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia between 2016 and 2021, providing a clearer picture of a long-running regional conflict that has developed into a proxy war between Tehran and Riyadh. Houthi militants in Yemen have turned to irregular or asymmetric weapons against Saudi Arabia, which has led a military intervention in Yemen since 2015 following the fall of the government there.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which is also backed by Iran, has provided the Houthis with weapons and training, the report notes. The relatively low-cost support from Iran and Hezbollah makes the Houthi attacks on the Saudi kingdom so effective, said Seth Jones, a senior analyst for the international security program at CSIS who authored the report.
“It’s very cheap for the Houthis and the Iranians to produce and very expensive for the Saudis to defend against,” Mr. Jones said. “There’s a big advantage to continue to put pressure on the Saudis. It’s not very expensive.”
The Houthi attacks the CSIS report examines were carried out by ballistic and cruise missiles and, mainly, by unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, which are often used against Saudi civilian infrastructure.
Riyadh has been struggling to defend against such attacks, and, as The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month, Saudi supplies of Patriot missile interceptors are beginning to run low. The interceptors, at about $1 million per interceptor are considered by military specialists to be the wrong weapon to defend against small drones, which are relatively inexpensive and widely available.
Source » iranbriefing