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On August 1st, Houthi rebels in the Middle Eastern country Yemen — located directly south of Saudi Arabia, on the Gulf of Aden — launched two attacks that claimed at least 50 lives and grievously wounded many more. The rebels launched a missile at a military parade and detonated suicide bombs at a police station.
The attacks took place in the Yemeni city of Aden, which has served as the seat of the Yemeni government since 2014. That year, the same Houthi rebels responsible for the August 1st attacks overtook the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. The Yemeni government, which is backed by nearby Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, thus relocated to Aden, a port city that has proven a focus of the conflict. The ongoing strife began in earnest in March 2015, when a group of countries led by Saudi Arabia used their air force capabilities to prevent the Houthi rebels from moving south from Sanaa to Aden.
The military parade targeted during the recent attacks was put on by the Saudi- and UAE-backed government in a pro-government military camp. According to the Houthi rebel website Al-Masirah, many military commanders were among those killed in the attack. Of note is the death of military leader Monier al Yafie, also known as Aboul Yamama, who was giving a speech when the missile struck. Yamama was among the most prominent of the Yemeni government’s UAE-backed commanders.
Just prior to the missile strike, suicide bombs ripped through a police station in Aden’s Omar al-Mokhtar neighborhood. The Houthi rebels used a car, a bus, and three motorcycles rigged with explosives to ravage the police station during the unit’s morning roll call. To date, four suicide bombers have been identified as being involved in the police unit attack.
Although Al-Masirah was quick to detail the results of its military parade attack, the Houthi rebel website did not immediately claim responsibility for the police unit bombing. The rebels are far from the only violent forces operating in Yemen, as both Yemen’s al-Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS) groups have used the strife between the rebels and the government to plot attacks of their own.
The August 1st Houthi attacks were the deadliest in Aden in nearly two years. In November 2017, attacks on the city’s security headquarters killed 15 people, most of whom were police.
Both the Houthi rebels and the Saudi government opposing them have inflicted mass destruction on Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition has launched airstrikes on schools, weddings, and even hospitals, which were spaces considered outside war’s reach until recent years. The Houthi rebels have similarly taken to the sky in their efforts, using drones and, as with the August 1st attacks, missiles to target Saudi Arabia. The rebels have also used these methods to attack ships in the nearby Red Sea.
In recent weeks, the UAE’s involvement in the Yemeni crisis has changed. In the wake of increasing tensions around Iran, the UAE has called thousands of soldiers home to ensure its own security as Iran crawls towards war.