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Qatar’s Amir Tamim holds phone call with Bahraini king following Houthi attack

The latest assault is feared to jeopardise the recent Yemeni peace efforts.

Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani offered his condolences to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in a phone call on Tuesday following the killing of two Bahraini servicemen in a Houthi border attack.

“The Amir expressed his heartfelt condolences and sympathies over the martyrdom of several Bahrain Defense Force servicemen, who are part of the Arab coalition forces’ Operation Decisive Storm and Operation Restoring Hope, praying to Allah Almighty to have mercy upon their souls and grant the injured a speedy recovery,” Qatar’s state news agency (QNA) reported.

The Amiri Diwan released a statement ahead of the phone call, in which Sheikh Tamim sent condolences “on the martyrdom of members of the Bahrain Defense Force”.

The name ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ refers to the 2015 Saudi military intervention in Yemen following the Iran-backed Houthi rebels’ capture of the capital Sanaa. 

On Monday, a Houthi rebel drone attack along the Saudi-Yemeni border killed two Bahraini military personnel and wounded others, triggering regional outrage. The Bahraini soldiers were buried in their homeland on Tuesday.

“This terrorist attack was carried out by the Houthis, who sent aircraft targeting the position of the Bahraini guards on the southern border of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia despite the halt of military operations between the warring sides in Yemen,” a Bahraini military statement said following the assault.

The spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition Brigadier General Turki al-Malki said they had “the right to respond at the appropriate time and place” to the Houthi attack, which he described as a “treacherous hostile act”.

Yemen’s internationally-recognised government and the United States were among a list of countries that condemned the attack.

On Tuesday, US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller described it as an “unprovoked” act that “threatens the longest period of calm since the war in Yemen began.”

“We stand with the Kingdom of Bahrain, a longtime strategic partner of the United States, and we offer our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia,” Miller told the press briefing.

The Saudi-led coalition has been engaged in a deadly battle with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels for years, turning Yemen into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The deadly conflict has killed an estimated 158,000 people and internally displaced at least 4.5 million others.

The latest attack occurred at a critical time for the Yemeni crisis as negotiations between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi rebels continue. Just last week, Saudi Arabia welcomed “positive results” from discussions with the rebels in Riyadh.

The talks were seen as a direct result of rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran following a historic agreement brokered by China in March.

However, the latest assault is feared to put recent peace efforts in jeopardy.

Since last year, Yemen has experienced a period of relative calm despite the expiration of a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations last year. The ceasefire, the first since 2016, led to a 60% decrease in civilian casualties and an almost 50% drop in displacements, per previous UN figures.

Qatar has long called for an inclusive Yemeni dialogue and a political resolution to permanently halt violence on the ground.

“We call for the crisis to be resolved in accordance with the resolutions of the National Dialogue, the Gulf Initiative, and the relevant Security Council resolutions,” Qatar’s amir told the UN General Assembly last week.