Houthi mis­sile shot down near Makkah Kuwait con­demns at­tack

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE - Agen­cies

RIYADH: Ye­meni rebels have launched one of their longes­trange strikes against Saudi Ara­bia, fir­ing a bal­lis­tic mis­sile that was shot down near the holy city of Makkah, the Saudi-led coali­tion fight­ing them said yes­ter­day. Saudi Ara­bia has de­ployed Pa­triot mis­siles to in­ter­cept the rebel fire. Houthi rebels launched the mis­sile “to­ward the Makkah area” on Thurs­day evening from their Saada prov­ince strong­hold just across the bor­der, a coali­tion state­ment said. “The air de­fense was able to in­ter­cept and de­stroyed it about 65 kilo­me­ters from Makkah with­out any dam­age.” Is­lam’s holiest sites are lo­cated in Makkah and Mad­ina.

An­gry Saudis soon de­nounced the mis­sile fire on­line with hash­tags ques­tion­ing the faith of the Houthis. The six-na­tion Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Council con­demned the at­tack which it de­scribed as “clear ev­i­dence” that the rebels are not will­ing to ac­cept a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion to Ye­men’s 19-month-old con­flict.

Kuwait strongly con­demned the mis­sile at­tack by the “Houthi group and (for­mer pres­i­dent) Ali Ab­dul­lah Saleh” to­wards the holy Makkah re­gion. Tar­get­ing Mus­lims’ qi­bla is a provo­ca­tion of their feel­ings, ne­glect of the ho­li­ness of the blessed spot and dis­re­gard of Is­lamic sanc­ti­ties, an of­fi­cial source at the for­eign min­istry said in a press state­ment. It added that the bru­tal ag­gres­sion is con­sid­ered a grave de­vel­op­ment, an in­sis­tence on re­ject­ing and de­fy­ing the will of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, as well as its ef­forts to en­force a truce for the as­pired po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion that rids Ye­men and the en­tire re­gion from the con­tin­u­a­tion of the bloody con­flict and its reper­cus­sions. The state­ment con­cluded with pray­ing to Al­lah to pro­tect Saudi Ara­bia from all harm.

The United Arab Emi­rates’ For­eign Minister Sheikh Ab­dul­lah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan went fur­ther, crit­i­ciz­ing Iran for the at­tack. “The Ira­nian regime backs a ter­ror­ist group that fires its rock­ets on Makkah... Is this an Is­lamic regime as it claims to be?” he wrote on Twit­ter. Qatar called the at­tack “a provo­ca­tion to the feel­ings of mil­lions of Mus­lims world­wide”. All GCC states, apart from Oman, are mem­bers of the Saudiled coali­tion. The UAE it­self is a ma­jor pil­lar of the al­liance. The coali­tion as well as the United States ac­cuse Iran of arm­ing the rebels, a charge de­nied by Tehran. In Iran, state me­dia re­ported on the bal­lis­tic mis­sile fire cit­ing in­ter­na­tional re­ports, with­out any gov­ern­ment com­ment.

The Houthis con­firmed the launch of a Burkan-1 bal­lis­tic mis­sile into Saudi Ara­bia in a state­ment on their of­fi­cial news agency, but said it had been aimed at King Ab­du­laziz In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Jed­dah, the king­dom’s busiest air­port. The Houthi-con­trolled SABA news agency said the mis­sile “di­rectly hit” the air­port and caused mas­sive de­struc­tion, though there were no de­lays or di­ver­sions af­fect­ing the air­port yes­ter­day. Makkah lies more than 500 km from the bor­der. It is the sec­ond time this month that the rebels have fired a mis­sile of that range. On Oct 9, the coali­tion said it had in­ter­cepted a mis­sile near Taif, the site of a Saudi air­base some 65 km from Makkah. —

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