In light of recent news reports from the region, the question on the minds of many in the Middle East is: Did the Houthis just invade Saudi Arabia?
On 6 June, leaders within the Houthi ranks claimed that its forces crossed the border from Yemen into neighbouring Saudi Arabia and took control of more than twenty positions.
The initial reports of the Houthi rebels’ alleged offensive were released by Yemen’s SABA news agency. Speaking to the outlet, Houthi spokesman Yahya Sarei stated that the military sites in the kingdom’s southwestern Najran province were captured in a “surprise” offensive carried out over the past three days. Sarei further claimed that more than “200 personnel affiliated with a Saudi-led military coalition” had been killed or wounded, while numerous others were captured along with large quantities of military equipment. “We have extensive video footage of the operation which will be broadcast later,” Sarei concluded.
As of now, Saudi Arabia has yet to address these claims.
If Houthi boasting about an invasion of the Kingdom proves true, this would signal a major shift in the years-long conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and rebel forces in Yemen. By extension, this could have serious repercussions for the schism between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the single biggest backer of the Houthi cause. Until this point, the Houthis had been merely harassing Riyadh in whatever way they could, either by missile attacks, drone strikes, or targeting the ships of coalition nations at sea. If the fighting shifts to Saudi soil, it may trigger significant escalations on the part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its allies. This could potentially include direct action against Iranians who were undoubtedly involved in any invasion that may have taken place.