Yemeni rebels attack oil depot in Saudi city where F1 race was held

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked an oil depot in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Friday ahead of a Formula One race in the state – their highest-profile attack threatening to disrupt the upcoming Grand Prix.

The attack targeted the same fuel depot that the Houthis have attacked in recent days, the North Jeddah bulk plant just south-east of the city’s international airport and an important center for Muslim pilgrims to Mecca.

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., also known as Saudi Aramco, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Saudi authorities have acknowledged an “unfavorable operation” targeting the depot without describing the weapons used in the attack.

Saudi Arabia is still leading a coalition to fight Iran-backed Houthis, who seized control of the Yemeni capital Sanaa in September 2014. The state, which entered the war in Yemen in 2015, has been criticized internationally for its airstrikes that have killed. Thousands of civilians – the Houthis – pointing drones, missiles and mortars at the state.

Brigadier General Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, said two tanks had been damaged in the fire and had been extinguished without any injuries.

According to the state-run Saudi Press Agency, al-Maliki said, “This unfavorable growth is aimed at oil advantages and focuses on energy security and trying to influence the backbone of the world economy.” “This hostile attack has no effect on the public life activities in the city of Jeddah.”

An Associated Press photojournalist was seen covering the practice gaps on the Jeddah F1 track, with smoke rising in the distance to the east, with the flames rising exactly 5:40 minutes later and the tops of the bulk plant tanks clearly visible about 11.5 kilometers away. (7 miles) away.

Although the fire was burning, the drivers ran till evening.

Jeddah is hosting the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix for the second time, although some have expressed concern about recent attacks targeting the state.

F1 said in a statement: “The position at the moment is that we are waiting for more information from the authorities about what happened.” F1 did not elaborate.

The Al-Masirah satellite news channel, run by Huthi rebels in Yemen, later claimed that they had attacked an Aramco base in Jeddah, along with other targets in Riyadh and elsewhere. The report did not provide further details.

Meanwhile, Saudi state TV also acknowledged the attack on a water tank in the city of Dhahran, which damaged vehicles and homes. Another attack targeted an electrical substation in an area of ​​southwestern Saudi Arabia near the Yemeni border, state TV reported.

The northern Jeddah bulk plant stores diesel, petrol and jet fuel for use in Jeddah, the second largest city in the state. It supplies more than a quarter of Saudi Arabia’s total supply and provides significant fuel to run a regional desalination plant.

The Houthis have twice targeted the North Jeddah plant with cruise missiles. An attack came in November 2020. The last came on Sunday as part of a wide barrage of Houthis.

At the time of the 2020 attack, target tanks with a capacity of 500,000 barrels had diesel fuel, according to a recent report by a panel of UN experts testing war in Yemen. It cost Aramco about 1.5 1.5 million to repair it after the last attack.

UN experts have described the facility as a “civilian target” that the Houthis should have avoided after the 2020 attack.

“While the facility supplies petroleum products to the Saudi military, it supplies most civilian customers,” the panel said. “If the plant had been out of service for a significant period of time, the impact on the state’s economy as well as the well-being of residents in the western region would probably have been significant.”

Defending against cruise missiles and drones remains difficult, although the United States recently sent a significant number of Patriot anti-missile interceptors to Saudi Arabia to replenish the state in the event of a Houthi attack.

In September, the AP reported that the United States had withdrawn its own Patriot and Thad defenses from Prince Sultan Air Base outside Riyadh.

The attacks have raised new questions about the Houthis’ ability to defend themselves from fire as years of war have not ended in the Arab world’s poorest country. It also comes at a time when Saudi Arabia has issued an unusually strong warning that it is unable to guarantee that its oil production will not be affected by further attacks – which could further push global energy prices into Russia’s war against Ukraine.

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Gambler reports from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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