The latest missile attack by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels against the Saudi capital of Riyadh occurred March 25th, 2018 when Houthi fighters fired 7 missiles into Saudi territory, three of which aimed at Riyadh. One resident was killed, the first civilian death in Riyadh since 2015.
The conflict in Yemen is a proxy war between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and Iranian-backed Houthi rebel fighters who control northern Yemen. The Iranian backed Houthis fired missiles at Saudi Arabia. In December of 2017 Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile at the Saudi capital Riyadh, but the missile was intercepted by Saudi air defenses. That was the third missile attack in the month of December.
Saudi Arabia and the Pentagon believe Iran was directly behind the missile launches, Iran denied any involvement.
The Saudi government believes that the missiles are being supplied by Iran. Multiple sources say Iran uses ships to deliver supplies to Yemen, either directly or through Somalia. Once the ships arrive in the region the supplies are then loaded on small fishing boats which are difficult to stop since they are so common in the area.
There is presently a United Nations arms embargo on Yemen, and the Saudi-led coalition’s blockade has been the source of criticism by humanitarian organizations and Saudi allies, including the United States.
The conditions in the war-torn country of Yemen continue to worsen. A UN security council said on March 15th that 22.2 million people are in need of humanitarian aid, which is an increase of 3 million from 2017. The war has killed an estimated 10,000 people.
But recent unrest over the price of gasoline in Houthi-controlled areas suggest that the economic pressure is having an impact.
On March 18th, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the Ibb province of Yemen killed three people and injured others after a quarrel at a gas station. Injured civilians were taken to a local hospital but were followed by Houthi fighters, who kidnapped and killed them. Similar events have occurred in the capitol of Sanaa where reports of Houthi fighters have arrested dozens of people waiting in long lines at gas stations.
Civilians blame the Houthi rebels for the hike in gas prices due to their monopolizing supplies. A cylinder of gas has reached up to 9,000 Yemeni Riyals compared to a cylinder of gas being 1,100 Riyals in unoccupied Houthi areas.
Saudi Arabia launched its intervention to reinstate the government of President Abu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after the Houthis, and their allies led by the late former President Ali Abdullah Saleh launched a coup, seizing the Yemeni capital of San’na. The Saudis have lead thousands of air strikes supporting Yemeni forces, and local militias. But the coalition has made minimal gains and are far from retaking back the capital of Sanaa.
Saudi and Houthi officials have held months of talks in the neighboring country of Oman discussing an end to Yemen’s three-year war. The resolution would begin with a truce to halt fighting and allow for a conclusive peace deal.
The negotiations model previous mediation efforts by Kuwait in 2016, which ended in failure. Saudi officials including the crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman have expressed desires to wrap up the conflict.