Yemen fortifies air defenses around oil terminals to counter Houthi attacks

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AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s vital oil terminal in the southern province of Hadramout, which was targeted by Houthi drone attacks, will shut down for some time to repair damaged infrastructure and to strengthen the port’s air defenses, the governor of Hadramout said on Tuesday.

Gov. Mabkhout bin Madhi told Arab News that the Houthis fired a barrage of drones on Monday at Al-Dhabbah oil terminal on the Arabian Sea as an oil tanker was loading fuel, inflicting damage to one of the port’s single-point moorings.

No one was injured, and the majority of the drones were intercepted and destroyed before they could reach their target. The attacks forced local authorities to close the oil facility for at least a month to repair the damage and deploy new air defenses capable of dealing with similar attacks in the future.

“The procedures will be tightened. Prior protective efforts focused on air defenses. It became apparent now that such drones required jamming tools and firing density at close ranges,” the governor said, adding that the port would reopen once they were confident the defenses could counter drones, missiles, or anything else. “We will work on devising another appropriate plan for this sort of weapon.”

The Houthis claimed credit for the drone attack, pledging to carry out similar assaults in the future if the government does not share earnings with them and pay public employees in regions under their control.

Yemen’s government exports around 2 million barrels of crude oil every two months via Al-Dhabbah terminal in Hadramout and another 600,000 barrels via oil terminals in Shabwa province.

The Houthi attacks on the Dhabbah oil terminal have sparked outrage in Yemen and widespread condemnation from government officials and foreign envoys in the country.

The government said in a strong statement that the Houthi attacks would exacerbate the country’s humanitarian crisis and have serious consequences for the country’s economy, fuel supplies, and international maritime navigation off Yemen’s coasts.

It renewed its calls to the international community to designate the Houthis as a terrorist organization and to work together to confront the Houthi threats and Iran’s agenda in Yemen.

“The government reaffirmed its request to the international community to shift from denouncing terrorist activities that endanger Yemen’s and the region’s security to collective action to discourage and fight them by designating the militia as an international terrorist organization,” the government said.

The government designated the Houthis as terrorists in October after they hit two southern Yemeni terminal ports with drones, threatening to withdraw from all peace agreements with the Houthis, including the Stockholm Agreement and the recent UN-brokered truce.

A Yemeni government official recently told Arab News that if the Houthis continued to strike oil tankers, it would be unable to pay public employees or support food imports.

Steven H. Fagin, US ambassador to Yemen, who concluded a visit to Aden on Monday, urged the Houthis to stop attacking oil facilities, avoid escalation, and return to peace talks.

He noted the Houthi attacks on Yemen’s ports would only harm the Yemeni people by worsening fuel shortages, urging the Houthis to halt their threats to international maritime commerce.

The ambassador called on the Houthis to return to the negotiating table, end the devastating war, and play a constructive role in achieving a comprehensive political settlement.

 

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