April 16, 2021
April 2021 Map Update: Al Houthi Attacks on Saudi Arabia
Contributor: Lauren Detter
[Notice: The Critical Threats Project frequently cites sources from foreign domains. All such links are identified with an asterisk (*) for the reader's awareness.]
US State Department spokesman Ned Price condemned the latest barrage of attacks by Yemen’s al Houthi movement on Saudi Arabia this week, including an April 15 drone and ballistic missile attack on Jizan city in southwestern Saudi Arabia. An al Houthi spokesman alleged this attack targeted oil facilities and Patriot missile batteries. Saudi Arabia has not confirmed strikes on these targets but reported that debris from intercepting the drones and missiles fell on the campus of a local university.
The al Houthi movement has increased its attack rate significantly since mid-February 2021 and appears to be sustaining this higher frequency. The group attempted a bold drone and ballistic missile attack on March 7 that targeted Saudi oil facilities in Ras Tanura in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern region. The al Houthis claimed the latter attack as part of their “balanced deterrence” campaign.
Iran has enabled the development of the al Houthis’ advanced attack capabilities since 2015. The al Houthi movement poses a serious and increasing threat to Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure, even as the al Houthis’ own reporting often overstates their effectiveness. Al Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia should be considered in the context of both Yemen’s war and Iranian regional activities.
Note: An al Houthi spokesman denied responsibility for a drone attack on Saudi Arabia on January 23, 2021. Iraqi and US officials confirmed the attack originated from Iraq. Read more the role of Iran’s proxies in Iraq in the ongoing information and military campaign against Saudi Arabia, which the al Houthi movement and Iran launched in late 2019, here.
Yellow pins: Attacks claimed by the al Houthis. Includes successful and attempted attacks.
Blue pins: Attacks by other actors that the al Houthis falsely claimed.
Green pins: Attacks claimed by al Houthis but denied or disputed by Saudi Arabia or the UAE.
Note: This map does not include six reported al Houthi attacks between August 16, 2020 and September 7, 2020 and 15 attacks between September 8, 2020 and April 16, 2021 that occurred in unspecified locations in southern Saudi Arabia.