Yemen’s newly-anointed cabinet has blamed Iran-backed Houthi militias for an attack on Aden airport on Wednesday that killed at least 26 people and left more than 100 injured.
Explosions rocked the airport shortly after a plane carrying members of Yemen’s newly-formed government landed. Hours alatera second explosion was heard close to Aden’s Maasheq presidential palace, where cabinet members including Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik, as well as the Saudi ambassador to Yemen, had been taken to for safety.
The new cabinet met in the temporary capital of Aden on Sunday, December 31. Dr. Abdulmalik and others accused the Ansar Allah movement, better known as the Houthis, and by extension Iran of being behind the attack, claiming that it had been carried out with guided missiles.
There was, Abdulmalik said, “intelligence and military information about Iranian experts who were present [in Yemen] in order to carry out these acts".
He added: "The United Nations and the international community's condemnation should go beyond mere denunciations. Instead, they should clearly and unequivocally point the finger at those who committed this terrorist attack.
“When we talk about the Houthis, we talk about Iran and its project of sabotage in the region, threatening international shipping and extorting the world through its militias and proxies."
For his part, Salem Al-Awalki, member of the UAE-backed Presidency of the Southern Transitional Council, said, "Today's bombing reminds us of the terrorist attacks that targeted the Bahah government and our forces' military parade in 2019," stressing that the Riyadh Agreement is a guarantee of security and peace for everyone.
Muhammad Al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthis' political bureau, has publicly denied any connection between his group and the attack in media statements.
But simultaneously Hussein Al-Izzi, deputy foreign minister in the Houthi government, appeared to implicitly blame his movement for the bombings in his condemnation of the attack, saying: "We strongly condemn all mercenary factions for failing to hold themselves responsible for the innocent lives lost, and ask them to settle their differences away from citizens and public facilities."
At the time of writing the Islamic Republic of Iran has not yet issued any official statement about the extent of its involvement in the attack on Aden airport.
But Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh politicized the attack in his statement offering condolences to the families of the victims. “Such acts of violence,” he said, “and the killing of civilians, come as a result of the occupiers' stance, which has brought destruction, division, and the most heinous human catastrophe to Yemen under what is known as ‘the coalition'."
UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths has also denounced the attack, saying: "I strongly condemn the attack on Aden airport upon the cabinet's arrival and the killing and injury of many innocent civilians."
A government investigation committee held its first meeting in Aden on December 31 to examine the circumstances of the attack.
The new 24-minister cabinet and government represents Yemen’s northern and southern governorates, with five positions held by the Southern Transitional Council. It was sworn in before President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in Riyadh on Tuesday, December 26.
It comes after a six-year war between government forces backed by the Arab coalition, and the Houthis supported by Iran, has devastated the country. The latter group has controlled a number of Yemeni governorates including the former capital, Sanaa, since 2014.