A U.S. soldier stands before a battery of Patriot anti-missile missiles at the Prince Sultan military base in Saudi Arabia, in a file image.Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AP
At least one strong explosion rocked Riyadh on Tuesday, just three days after the anti-aircraft defenses in the Saudi capital intercepted a projectile.
Neither the authorities of the kingdom nor the Huthi of Yemen, with whom they are at war, have commented on the incident that on social media is linked to the destruction of a missile.
A hitherto unknown group claimed responsibility for Saturday's failed attack, raising the possibility that Yemeni rebels are using the same tactic as Iraq's Shiite militias to cover up their actions.
The explosion this Tuesday occurred shortly before one in the afternoon local time (two hours earlier in mainland Spain) and in the absence of official information, the inhabitants of Riyadh took to social networks.
Some reported hearing two detonations, which is common when anti-aircraft defenses fire two Patriot missiles to ensure the destruction of the enemy projectile.
At the same time of the incident, several planes that were heading to the airport in the Saudi capital were diverted to other nearby ones without the reason being explained.
A resident of Indian nationality immediately shared on Twitter a video in which it was seen as a missile was apparently intercepted and a column of white smoke was produced.
Two hours later he withdrew the tweet after several users warned him not to "give clues to the enemy."
But by then there were other similar recordings, and even the Saudi television network Al Arabiya was echoing the news.
An explosion was heard in Saudi Arabia's capital #Riyadh at 12:52 pm (Arabian Standard Time), according to local reports.
Social media users have shared videos of a ballistic missile interception.https: //t.co/48TvIZamQu pic.twitter.com/P7X6KRG2Ew
- Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) January 26, 2021
The problem is determining who the enemy is.
Yemen's Huthi rebels, whom Saudi Arabia has fought since taking power in Sana'a six years ago, carry out frequent cross-border drone and missile operations.
They have also attacked oil infrastructures and civilian airports in the southern Kingdom of the Desert, and have sometimes even reached Riyadh, some 1,000 kilometers of Yemeni area under their control.
However, this Tuesday they were silent.
This is unusual because the propaganda outlets of Ansarullah, the official name of the Yemeni political movement and militia, often brag about their operations against the Saudi Goliath.
Also on Saturday they denied having anything to do with the "hostile air target in the direction of Riyadh" that the Saudis said they had intercepted and destroyed.
The military spokesman did not specify if it was a drone or a missile, nor did he accuse the Huthi, as is usual.
Even more striking, a group that identified itself as Alwiya Alwaad Alhaq (which Reuters translates as Brigades of True Promise) claimed responsibility for the failed attack.
The statement linked him to the Islamic State attack in Baghdad the previous Thursday and warned of new operations against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The analysts do not finish seeing it clearly.
“I find it hard to believe that there is a new group.
The operation is the same that the Huthi have been using for years, ”says a European observer in Riyadh.
It is possible that the Yemeni rebels are following the same tactic as the pro-Iranian militias in Iraq, where the latest attacks against US interests are being signed by unknown groups given Iran's need not to jeopardize the possibility that the new President ends the maximum pressure policy of his predecessor.
This formula also suits the Huthi at a time when Joe Biden has suspended for a month their inclusion on the list of terrorist organizations adopted by the previous Administration.