Yemen's Houthis issue warning to oil ‘looters’

Yemen’s Houthi rebels warned that they could target oil companies in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as a six-month ceasefire expired on Sunday

Yemen's Houthis issue warning to oil ‘looters’

Yemen's Houthis issue warning to oil ‘looters’

The group said it could target foreign oil companies in response to “economic war”

As efforts to extend a six-month ceasefire between Yemen’s Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led military coalition failed, the Houthis warned that they could launch attacks on oil companies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The United Nations confirmed on Sunday that negotiations between the Houthis and the Saudi coalition had broken down, and that a ceasefire set to expire the same day would not be extended. The fragile truce had been in place since April, and saw fighting cease for the longest time since the outbreak of civil war in Yemen in 2014.

UN envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg called on both sides to avoid resuming hostilities and “pursue every avenue for peace.”

In a statement a day earlier, the Houthis condemned the Saudi coalition for failing to improve the humanitarian situation in the country. Already the Arab world’s poorest nation, Yemen has been under blockade by the coalition since 2015, triggering widespread humanitarian crisis. While the Houthis accused the Saudis of limiting the influx of vital supplies during the ceasefire, Yemen’s Saudi-allied government accused the Houthis of blockading key road corridors inside Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition countries, the Houthis said, have “transfer[red] the war to the economic field,” as oil companies continue “looting” the country’s natural resources during the blockade. The rebel group called on foreign oil firms, particularly from Saudi Arabia and the UAE to cease activities and stop extraction in Yemen as of Sunday. 

"Our armed forces are able, with God’s help, to deprive the Saudis and Emiratis of their resources if they insist on depriving our Yemeni people of their resources,” a spokesman for the group’s military branch declared on Sunday. 

The Houthis struck several oil facilities, ships, and airports in Saudi Arabia and the UAE over the years before the truce was signed in April. The coalition responded with intensified airstrikes on what it said were Houthi military targets, although hospitals and schools were allegedly among the buildings hit.

According to UN estimates, around 400,000 people have died in Yemen since 2015, when the Saudi-led coalition launched a military campaign with the objective of restoring President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi to power after he was ousted by the Houthis. This was followed by intense fighting on the ground, which displaced millions of people. Riyadh has alleged that the Shia Muslim Houthis are proxies for Iran, something Tehran has denied.