The Yemeni Houthis have fired their new cruise missile, the Quds-2, at a Saudi Aramco oil company distribution station in the kingdom’s city of Jeddah, the group’s media news wing announced early on November 23. A spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Houthi-led government, Yahya Sarea, said foreign companies and residents in Saudi Arabia should stay away from the military and oil infrastructure of Saudi Arabia as “operations will continue”. He emphasized that the missile precisely hit its target causing notable damage.
The Houthis claim that the Quds-2 is a new generation “winged missile” produced by their Missile Forces. As always, the missile was likely assembled thanks to technical assistance from Iran or Iranian-supplied components. That facility is located southeast of Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport. Over the past years, the Houthis have repeatedly pounded the military section of the airport with missiles and drones. Therefore, it was just the question of time, when the nearby oil infrastructure would be hit.
At the same time, the Saudi side remains silent regarding the impact of the Houthi missile strike. This is an ordinary posture of Saudi Arabia towards Houthi missile and drone strikes. The Kingdom censors social media, denies any damage and claims that all targets were intercepted, if it appears possible and that no visual evidence of destruction are leaked immediately. Also, the main oil production and export facilities of Aramco are mostly in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, more than 1000km across the country from Jeddah. Therefore, Riyadh likely believes that it can silence another setback in the ongoing war with the Yemeni movement.
In September 2019, when the Houthis, with probable help from Iran, put out of service almost a half of Saudi oil infrastructure by hitting targets in Abqaiq and Khurais, the Kingdom was vowing a powerful response and the full destruction of Houthi missile and drone capabilities. However, a year later, the situation on the ground in Yemen for Saudi-backed forces became even worse and the widely-promoted ‘great Saudi victory’ over the Houthis turned into ashes.
In recent month, Saudi-led forces lost the battle for the Yemeni province of Bayda, and now they seem to be losing the battle for Marib. Recently they retreated from the key Maas Base and the route for the potential Houthi advance on the provincial capital is almost open. The denial of the facts on the ground and the air dominance of the Kingdom did not help it to achieve a victory in the war. In turn, it’s the Houthis who have put themselves in the position that allowed them to turn the tide of the conflict. With the current trend in the Yemeni conflict, Saudi Arabia will apparently have to pay an even bigger price for its intervention in the Arab country.