Missiles directed at Mecca and Jeddah, shot down by Saudi security forces
The launch early yesterday morning only recently confirmed by official Riyadh media. Already in 2017, a rocket launched by the rebels in Yemen was directed at the most important holy site for Islam. Fringe pushing for war against Tehran is growing among Saudi intellectuals and scholars.
Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Saudi air force says it has intercepted and destroyed two missiles fired by Houthi rebel militias in Yemen and headed for Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, and Jeddah.
The attack was launched early yesterday morning but, for many hours, the Saudi official media did not confirm the launch, which only emerged when social networks were already flooded with news and videos (click here for the video).
In just a few hours, over 40 thousand Twitter posts on the topic were counted, while the official Riyadh media remained silent.
According to a spokesman for the Arab Saudi-led coalition operating in Yemen, the two rockets were shot down over the skies of Taif, at dawn yesterday. Arab News adds that some fragments of the first missile fell on Wadi Jalil, a valley that extends to Mecca.
Some inhabitants in Jeddah have confirmed a powerful explosion in the early hours of yesterday.
Analysts and experts recall that it is not the first attack by pro-Iranian militias against the holy city of Islam. Already in July 2017 the Houthi had launched a missile against Mecca.
The attack, which coincides with Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and Islamic prayer, is only the latest in a series of episodes that confirm the escalation of tension in the Middle Eastern region. At the center is the clash between Iran and the Arab alliance (Saudis and emirates above all), which is also reflected in the bloody war that has been going on in Yemen for over four years.
The Arab satellite TV channel Al-Arabiya cites eyewitnesses who confirm the shooting down of the two rockets on the skies of Jeddah and Taif. In the hours following the attack and facing the general outrage of the Arab and Muslim world, the leaders of the Houthi movement denied wishing to hit Mecca (70 km away from Jeddah and 50 km from Taif). For the Yemeni rebels the accusation is only a pretext to feed the war launched by Riyadh in the neighboring country.
"The Saudi regime is trying, with these accusations, to fuel support for its brutal aggression against the people of Yemen," said spokesman Houthi Yahya Sarea.
Many Saudi analysts and scholars are instead calling for all-out war with Tehran. They include Hamdan Al-Shehri, a professor of international relations based in Riyadh, who says "it is not the first time that the Houthis and their masters in Tehran have launched missiles at Mecca".
"Now it is time - adds the scholar - that all the Muslim nations in the world make a square around sacred places [...] condemnation in words is not enough. Iran and the Houthi have crossed the red line, so a deterrent action is needed against Tehran ".
Since 2015, Saudi security forces have intercepted and destroyed 227 ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis in Yemen.