Saudi air strikes in Yemen as it mobilises 150,000 troops

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SAUDI Arabian forces, joined by nine other countries, have launched a military operation in Yemen against Shi’ite Houthi rebels, the Saudi ambassador to the US, Al Jubeir, has said. The offensive, which started with air strikes, will also involve ‘other military assets’, and has the support of the United States. The military operation in Yemen started at 11pm on Wednesday night.

US President Obama has authorised the provision of logistical and intelligence support to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-led military operations in Yemen, the White House said in a statement, confirming that Washington had close communication with Yemen’s just-removed President Hadi, the Saudis and other GCC states prior to the launch of the military operation.

‘While US forces are not taking direct military action in Yemen in support of this effort, we are establishing a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate US military and intelligence support,’ the statement said.

Moreover, the White House urged the Houthis to immediately halt ‘destabilising military actions’ and to return to political dialogue with the deposed Yemeni government.

The Saudi-led coalition has declared Yemeni airspace a ‘restricted zone’. Ships in the region have also been urged not to approach Yemen’s ports due to the ongoing military operation.

The majority of the strikes around Sanaa hit residential areas located near the capital’s international airport. Government buildings and the airport were also hit during the offensive.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait issued a joint statement saying that they ‘decided to repel Houthi militias, Al-Qaeda and ISIS (Islamic State) in the country.’ However, ISIS and Al-Qaeda are opposed to the Shia Houthi militias.

The Gulf states said they were responding to a ‘major threat’ to the stability of the region, saying that their cause is to ‘repel Houthi aggression’ in Yemen.

Al-Jubeir said the 10-country coalition launched the campaign ‘to protect and defend the legitimate government’ of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after his appeal to intervene.

Hadi’s aide said, ‘The president thanks Gulf countries, Egypt, Jordan, and Sudan, and all countries in the region.’ The offensive has ‘restored people’s determination’ to fight against the Houthis, he said.

Saudi Arabia is planning to commit 100 warplanes and 150,000 soldiers to the Yemen offensive. The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and Jordan are also willing to contribute aircraft, while Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, and Sudan want to contribute to ground operations.

Egypt is providing political and military support for the operation, the country’s state media said. Cairo is prepared to take part in air, naval and ground operations if necessary, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has announced.

‘There is an aggression underway on Yemen and we will confront it valiantly,’ a member of the Houthi political office, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, stated, adding, ‘Military operations will drag the region to a wide war.’

Before the launch of the offensive in Yemen, Houthi militants claimed to have captured the southern seaport of Aden, President Hadi’s stronghold. The fighters said the city was under their control and the president’s supporters were being arrested.

The military onslaught is directed ultimately against Iran and Syria which support the Houthis and the Iraqi government that is fighting IS with the support of Iran’s revolutionary guards.

In fact, the British Defence Minister, Michael Fallon, has just announced that 75 UK trainers are to be sent to Syria to train ‘moderate’ Syrian forces, such as the Al-Nusra Front, to do battle with President Assad.

The US Saudi attack on the Yemen may well terminate the nuclear talks currently taking place with Iran and lead to Iranian forces taking military action to defend Iran’s interests in the Gulf. War in the oil-rich region will have the most dramatic revolutionary consequences, the least of which will be a massive increase in oil prices.