عربي | كوردى



Bomb-laden drones of Yemen rebels threaten Arabian Peninsula

Bomb-laden drones of Yemen rebels threaten Arabian Peninsula

2019/05/16 | 22:10

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)- A Yemen rebel drone strike this week on a critical Saudi oil

pipeline shows that the otherwise-peaceful sandy reaches of the Arabian

Peninsula now are at risk of similar assault, including an under-construction

nuclear power plant and Dubai International Airport, among the world’s busiest.UN investigators said the Houthis’ new UAV-X drone, found in

recent months during the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen, likely has a range

of up to 1,500 kilometers (930 miles).That puts the far reaches of both Saudi Arabia and the

United Arab Emirates, the two main opponents of the Iranian-allied Houthi

rebels in Yemen, within reach of drones difficult to detect and track. Their

relatively simple design, coupled with readily available information online,

makes targeting even easier, analysts say.“These installations are easily findable like on Google

Earth,” said Tim Michetti, an expert on illicit weapons technology with

experience in Yemen. “Once you get in the vicinity, that alone has that kind of

effect of showing that the reach is there.”The drone attacks come amid heightened tensions between Iran

and the US, a year after President Donald Trump pulled America out of Tehran’s

nuclear deal with world powers. The White House has ordered an aircraft carrier

and bombers into the region over a still-unexplained threat from Iran, while

nonessential employees at US diplomatic posts in Iraq have been ordered to

leave the country.On Sunday, the United Arab Emirates alleged four oil tankers

off its eastern coast were targeted by sabotage. On Tuesday, the Houthis say

they launched seven drones to target Saudi Arabia. The drones stuck pumping

stations along the kingdom’s crucial East-West Pipeline, causing minor damage,

Saudi officials say.A satellite photo obtained by The Associated Press of one of

the pumping stations showed two black marks near where the pipeline passes that

weren’t there the day before.In the months after the March 2015 start of the war in

Yemen, Houthi rebels began using drones in combat. The first appeared to be

off-the-shelf, hobby-kit-style drones. Later, versions nearly identical to

Iranian models turned up. Iran denies supplying the Houthis with weapons,

although the UN, the West and Gulf Arab nations say Tehran does.The rebels have flown drones into the radar arrays of Saudi

Arabia’s Patriot missile batteries, according to Conflict Armament Research,

disabling them and allowing the Houthis to fire ballistic missiles into the

kingdom unchallenged.Some have been used for surveillance purposes, while others

have been loaded with explosives and ball bearings to deadly effect. In

January, a bomb-laden Houthi drone detonated at a military parade near Aden,

killing at least six people, including the commander of military intelligence

for Yemen’s internationally recognized government.Saudi officials haven’t offered any photographs of the sites

attacked, nor given any explanation of what kind of drone the Houthis used

Tuesday. However, the UAV-X is a likely culprit.The drone, with a wingspan of 4.5 meters (14.7 feet), has a

V-shaped tail fin. It’s powered by a rear-mounted engine and has been found

with what appears to be extra fuel tanks welded it to, a UN panel of experts

found. It carries a 18-kilogram (40-pound) warhead.The drone is likely programmed to strike a specific latitude

and longitude and cannot be controlled once out of radio range, Michetti said.

In the case of Tuesday’s attack, the latitude and longitude of the pumping

stations could be easily found online.The UN put the drone’s maximum range at 1,500 kilometers.“It would give credence to the claims by the Houthis that

they have the capability to hit targets such as Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Dubai,”

the UN panel said.For Saudi Arabia, that range puts the oil fields of its

Eastern Province in range. Saudi Aramco declined to comment when reached by the

AP.In the neighboring UAE, an immediate target is the

under-construction Barakah nuclear power plant, which is deep in its western

desert. The $20 billion, four-reactor plant being built with help from South

Korea, has been considered a target by the Houthis since December 2017, when

they claimed without offering evidence to have fired a cruise missile at it,

something immediately denied by the UAE.Asked about the possible drone threat, the UAE’s Federal

Authority for Nuclear Regulation said it had “in place regulations to ensure

the protection of the nuclear power plant from all kinds of threats, including

physical or cyberattacks,” without elaborating.Also within reach is the skyscraper-studded city of Dubai, a

crucial link in worldwide global travel. Dubai International Airport bills

itself as the world’s busiest for international travel.Officials at the airport declined to comment, referring the

AP to the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority. The authority did not

immediately respond to a request for comment. The Houthis have claimed without

evidence to have targeted both airports in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, something

denied by authorities.Speaking to journalists Wednesday night, a top Emirati

diplomat sought to play down the danger faced by the federation of seven

sheikhdoms, while still acknowledging the threats to regional stability.“We live in a region where we can’t come and be happy

because we are the only house in the neighborhood that has not been arsoned or

burgled,” said Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs.











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