KSA border troops step up alert after Yemen port raid
Saudi troops along the Kingdom’s southern border have been placed on high alert after Houthi rebels seized a strategically important Yemeni land port close to Jazan.
The Haradh port, one of three major land entry ports in the north of Yemen that connects the two countries, is used for both travel and trade.
“The Saudi Border Guards across the border with Yemen have been placed on high alert,” said a Saudi official on condition of anonymity.
This was further confirmed by Border Guard spokesman Gen. Mohamed Al-Ghamdi, who told Asharq Al-Awsat, a sister publication of Arab News, that security forces positioned on the Kingdom’s northern and southern border have been placed on full alert.
“The Border Guards are carrying out round-the-clock checks for cross-border violations, including drug-trafficking, weapon smuggling and infiltration by terror groups,” said Al-Ghamdi.
In fact, Houthi rebels, who are in control of as many as nine Yemeni provinces, have continued their push across the country, raising concerns within the Kingdom.
For the Kingdom, which shares a porous 1,770 kilometers of southern border with Yemen, the stakes are high.
Senior intelligence officials consider Yemen to be the weakest security link in the Gulf and an easy prey for Tehran to penetrate and manipulate.
The Saudi-Yemen border also serves as the primary point of infiltration for Al-Qaeda, considered the biggest terrorist threat to the Kingdom.
The port of Haradh, captured by Houthis, is located in Yemen’s northern Hajah governorate and contains the strategically-important Tawwal border post, which witnesses massive traffic between the two countries.
Houthi militants have been aggressively pursuing an agenda of attacks, bloodshed and annexation.
In the Yemeni capital, dozens of armed Houthi demonstrators protested in front of the Saudi Embassy on Saturday, calling for the release of a Shiite cleric who was sentenced to death by a Saudi court last week.
“This is a gross interference in the internal affairs of a nation,” said an academician Abdulrahman Al-Badr, while referring to the unwanted demonstrations of Houthis.
Houthi demonstrators were seen carrying AK-47 assault rifles.
Yemeni security and military forces blocked both sides of the street in front of the Saudi Embassy and watched the demonstration.
The US, the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have expressed concern over the growing turmoil in Yemen, calling for the reinstatement of the authority of the central government in Sanaa.
A plan to hold a conference on Yemen in Brussels with the aim of defusing the crisis in the country is in the pipeline.
US President Barack Obama spoke to the Yemeni president recently.
Yemen has been dogged by political instability ever since a civil uprising inflicted massive loss of life and property and eventually forced longtime strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down in 2012.