WASHINGTON— Saudi Arabia is running out of ammunition to fight against weekly drone and missile strikes on the kingdom and is pleading with the United States and its Gulf and European allies for a resupply, according to US and Saudi sources.
Saudi Arabia has been targeted by almost a dozen ballistic missile and drone strikes conducted each week by Yemen-based Houthi rebels, according to US and Saudi authorities. The Saudi military has successfully deflected the majority of the barrages with its Patriot surface-to-air missile system, but its arsenal of interceptors (missiles intended to shoot down airborne weapons) has depleted dangerously, according to these officials.
Meanwhile, the United States military has redeployed most of the American equipment that has guarded US personnel and provided security to Saudi Arabia, as part of the Biden administration’s shift away from the Middle East and toward China.
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While US authorities were set to formally support the Saudi request, officials in Riyadh are concerned that the persistent strikes might result in severe loss of life or damage to crucial oil infrastructure if a sufficient supply of Patriot interceptors is not available. The Houthis attacked royal court buildings in January, but no one was harmed.
The Saudi government’s appeal has put the United States’ commitment to the Middle East, particularly to Riyadh, where the Biden administration has attempted to reshape the relationship on a variety of issues, including human rights, the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and the October 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by Saudi operatives.
Following President Biden’s concerns, the Senate defeated a resolution disapproving of a proposed sale of 280 air-to-air missiles to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by a vote of 67-30 on Tuesday night.
According to a Saudi government official, the number of attacks on the country has increased dramatically. Drones targeted Saudi land 29 times last month and 25 times in October, and the nation was hit by 11 ballistic missile assaults last month and ten in October. According to the official, this is a considerable increase from February 2020, when Saudi Arabia was attacked six times, five times by ballistic missiles and once by a drone.
At a seminar on Friday, the United States’ special envoy for Yemen stated that the Houthis had carried out over 375 cross-border operations into Saudi Arabia in 2021.
On Monday, Saudi air defences intercepted a ballistic missile over Riyadh. According to the Defense Ministry, shrapnel was created in many residential zones but did no harm. A Patriot system had been activated, according to online footage that showed a boom and bursts of light.
Despite worries about Saudi Arabia’s human-rights record and other issues, US officials think they have a duty to assist the oil-rich monarchy in its own defence, particularly as the US deals with rising oil costs. A sophisticated attack on state-owned Aramco Oil installations in 2019 forced the temporary stoppage of certain production. In March, the Houthis targeted a major Saudi oil terminal but did minimal damage.