The Houthi militia and their alleged Iranian backers are to blame for Wednesday’s deadly attack on the Aden Airport, Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed has alleged.
“Preliminary investigations indicate that Houthi militias stand behind the crime,” Saeed said, speaking to members of his new, Saudi-approved cabinet in Aden on Thursday, his remarks cited by the AP.
“Intelligence also indicates that some Iranian experts were preparing for such an operation over the last few months,” he added.
Saeed urged other nations to formally designate the Houthis as a terrorist entity.
“The international community is still debating whether to designate Houthis as a terrorist group. However, things are clear for us in Yemen. The actions of these militias prove they are a terrorist group,” he said.
The Houthis are designated as a terrorist group by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Malaysia. Other countries, including the US, have yet to do so.
Later in the day, Saeed posted footage of himself visiting a hospital flanked by security personnel to talk with people injured in the attack, and repeated his allegations against the Houthis and Iran.
“Just as Iran and its Houthi proxies were responsible for the coup and the war, so too do they clearly stand behind the heinous terrorist crime of the attack on Aden International Airport and the attempt to liquidate the government and to target innocent citizens,” Saeed wrote.
مثلما كانت إيران ووكلاؤها من الحوثيين مسؤولين عن الانقلاب والحرب، يقفون بوضوح وراء الجريمة الإرهابية البشعة في الاعتداء على مطار عدن الدولي ومحاولة تصفية الحكومة واستهداف المواطنين الأبرياء، الرحمة للشهداء والشفاء للجرحى. pic.twitter.com/vkKhEed1Am— معين عبد الملك Maeen Abdulmalek (@DrMaeenSaeed) December 31, 2020
Houthis Deny Involvement, Accuse Saudi Arabia
The Houthis have denied responsibility for the Aden attack, with Minister of Information Dhaifallah Qasim Saleh al-Shami tweeting that “the confused statements of the government of Riyadh’s mercenaries about the explosion at Aden Airport raise question marks,” and adding that claims of Houthi involvement are “an attempt to cover up their crimes against civilians and to settle the inter-accounts of mercenary parties.”
Abdulelah Hajar, an advisor to the Houthi-led Supreme Political Council, offered condolences to the dead and wounded, and suggested that Saudi Arabia itself may be responsible.
“It does not require intelligence or analysis to know that whoever undertook the criminal terrorist act by bombing Aden Airport is the same one who undertook the aggression against Yemen six years ago and killed and wounded hundreds of thousands of innocent Yemenis by airstrikes and imposed siege by land, air and sea,” Hajar wrote, referring to the Saudi-led coalition’s long-running war against the Houthis, which began in March 2015.
Dozens of people were killed and injured in the missile attack on Aden Airport on Wednesday afternoon. The assault began just moments after the new coalition cabinet arrived in the makeshift capital from Saudi Arabia following a formal inauguration ceremony. The cabinet was formed after the government of Saudi-based exile president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Southern Transitional Council, a UAE-backed separatist government in control of much of Yemen’s south, agreed to a power-sharing deal. No cabinet members were said to have been injured in the attack.
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The Saudi-led coalition has waged a campaign lasting more than five years against the Houthis, who continue to control much of the country, including the capital of Sanaa. The militia has targeted Saudi military facilities, airports, ports, and other infrastructure. In September 2019, the Houthis attacked a pair of Saudi oil processing facilities, temporarily halving the kingdom’s oil production. Riyadh and the US blamed Iran for the attack and has accused Tehran of supporting the Shia militia. Iran has denied the claims, and has said that providing material support to the Houthis is impossible due to the Saudi-led coalition’s naval blockade against Yemen.
As many as 233,000 Yemenis have died in the conflict to date, with the UN estimating that three quarters of the population is in urgent need of humanitarian aid.