The Houthi rebels in Yemen have increasingly developed their offensive capabilities, however, not all reports are true and any claims need to be carefully weighed against other sources.
A new report published by Bellingcat on Thursday questions Houthi claims that they targeted UAE airports earlier this year.
In August of this year, Houthi rebels claimed to have executed a drone attack on Dubai International Airport. This followed another in September, with the Houthis claiming to have used a 'Sammad-3 drone', a recently added acquisition to the Houthi arsenal.
Both times the UAE authorities denied an attack took place.
"Houthi sources, however, should not be used exclusively as evidence when investigating claims of drone attacks," the report adds.
The Houthis, however, have engaged in drone and Scud missile attacks in Saudi Arabia. It has attacked the Jizan Red Sea port facility, which is operated by national oil carrier Saudi Aramco and includes a 400,000-barrel-per-day refinery.
Since Saudi Arabia and the UAE started their war on Yemen three years ago, the Houthis have fired rockets and drones on more than 100 cities and installations in Saudi Arabia.
However, up until the recent claims by the Houthis, there had been no reported attacks on the UAE.
The report by Bellingcat suggests that there has been an increase in Houthi "asymmetric capabilities especially against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates."
The report claims this is part of a broader strategy outlined by Abdul Malik al Houthi, the Houthi leader.
"The Houthi group’s stated asymmetric strategy is to disrupt the Saudi-led coalition’s economy versus large-scale attacks in comparison to other non-state armed groups in Yemen," Dewan adds in his report for Bellingcat.
By going after Saudi economic interests and the UAE's carefully managed image as a beacon of stability in a region mired in war, the Houthis are aiming to inflict a cost to what they see as two belligerents.
Khalil Dewan, the author of the report, speaking to TRT World, said, "The Houthis claim to have five different types of drones, but only two have been seen via open-source intelligence. Many of their drones upon closer examination resemble Iranian ones. Their asymmetric strategy is working against Saudi Arabia and across Yemen."
Earlier this year, two Saudi oil tankers were attacked by the Houthis in the Bab al Mandeb strait, at the entrance to the Red Sea. This led Riyadh to halt oil shipments through the narrow straits, which in the past were threatened by Somali pirates.
The Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia have also exposed some of the flaws in Saudi defence capabilities.
Haven’t analyzed all the videos yet, but it looks like one interceptor failed catastrophically (left) and another pulled a u-turn and exploded in Riyadh (right). Not a good day for Saudi missile defenses. pic.twitter.com/4xtgTQwGSM— Jeffrey Lewis (@ArmsControlWonk) March 26, 2018
Saudi Arabia uses American-made Patriot missiles to protect itself against incoming drones or missiles from Yemen.
On several occasions, however, the missiles have failed, missed or malfunctioned.
Online social media posts drew attention to this, causing reputational damage to the Patriot missile system, which has been dogged by complications since its inception.
Saudi Arabia continues to use the system and recently signed an order worth $500 million with the US.
The war in Yemen has resulted in a boon for weapons manufacturers across the West who are supplying the Saudi and UAE war effort.
The chief beneficiaries are US, British, French, German and Italian companies. Increasing awareness of the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, as a result of these weapons, has not deterred many companies and governments from signing additional weapons contracts.
The Houthi movement seized the Yemeni capital, Saana, in 2015. However, its authority over Yemen is not recognised by most countries.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE fear that Iran, which is backing the movement, could gain a foothold in Yemen and threaten Saudi oil and also strategically hem the Kingdom in.
The brutal Yemen campaign at the hands of Saudi Arabia and the UAE has left more than tens of thousands of civilians dead.
The United Nations has called the conflict the "world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster" with more than 22 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
The Saudi Arabian and UAE bombardment of Yemen with Western-made weapons continues unabated with no end in sight.