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Houthis warn Saudi Arabia 'would be a target' if it backs US-UK strikes

The Houthi warning comes amid increased attacks against vessels in the Red Sea claimed by the Iran-backed group in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

As the US military continues to strike Houthi targets in Yemen in retaliation for the group’s repeated attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea, the Iran-backed group renewed its threats against any country that gets involved in attacking Yemen.

In an interview with the Houthi-run Al-Masirah television channel aired on Sunday, ahead of the ninth anniversary of the Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a member of the group’s Supreme Political Council, said the United States is pressuring several countries to join their coalition against Yemen.

“We renew our warnings that any country that would act against our country would make its interests a legitimate target for us,” he threatened.

Ali al-Houthi described the US strikes inside Yemen as “arrogant” and “unjustified actions,” saying the Houthi rebels will not remain silent and will respond in kind.

“Americans must stop targeting our country and attacking our country,” he added.

He also warned Saudi Arabia that the country “would be a target for us if they provided aid and support to the US-British aggression against our country.”

The Iran-backed Houthi group has carried out numerous missile and drone attacks against what it says are Israeli-linked vessels passing through the vital Red Sea and Gulf of Aden maritime routes since November in response to Israel’s ongoing offensive on the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, US Central Command said a Chinese-owned oil tanker came under a Houthi attack when four ballistic missiles were fired at the ship. The attack caused a fire but no casualties were reported.

The Houthis, who told China and Russia last week that their ships will not be targeted, have not commented on Sunday’s attacks.

During Sunday’s interview, Ali al-Houthi said China and Russia have been reassured that their ships can sail safely in the area and stressed that countries with no ties or links to Israel “should not be worried.”

The United States and the United Kingdom have launched dozens of precision strikes against Houthi positions across Yemen since January as part of efforts to deter Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

On Saturday, US forces launched a series of strikes against three underground storage facilities in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. CENTCOM said in a post on X that the strikes hit “capabilities used by the Houthis to threaten and attack naval ships and merchant vessels in the region.”

CENTCOM added that its forces destroyed four unmanned aerial vehicles in Houthi-controlled areas in self-defense.

Last December, the United States announced the formation of a 10-member coalition that includes the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain to protect commercial traffic in the Red Sea from Houthi attacks.

Saudi Arabia has not joined the US coalition and reportedly refused to allow US fighter jets to use its airspace to conduct strikes against Houthis in Yemen.

Yemen has been embroiled in political and security chaos since the Houthi took over the capital Sanaa and expelled the internationally recognized government in 2014. The conflict worsened after Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in support of the government in 2015.

A few weeks ahead of the Israel-Hamas war, a Houthi delegation headed to Riaydh in mid-September for talks on a cease-fire, in the first publicly announced visit by the Houthis to the Saudi capital.

Despite the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, the peace talks have continued. In December, the United Nations announced that the Saudi-backed government and the Houthis have both committed to steps toward a cease-fire in Yemen.

In his interview on Sunday, Ali al-Houthi called on Saudi Arabia to move peace efforts forward.