The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia led a coalition of nine Arab nations and conducted air strikes against the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Houthi rebels ousted Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and took over main parts of the country.
Yemen President Mansour supports Saudi Arabia’s air strikes against the Houthi rebels. He called them as ‘stooges of Iran.” He blamed Iran for creating the conflict in Yemen.
Nations supporting Saudi Arabia’s military operations in Yemen
Saudi Arabia’s military operation against the Houthi rebels in Yemen is supported by Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and Sudan. These predominantly Sunni Muslim countries formed a military coalition called “Operation al-Hazm Storm” or “Operation Decisive Storm.”
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Saudi Arabia deployed 100 fighter jets, 150,000 troops, and some navy units for the Operation Decisive Storm. The air strikes targeted military bases, air defense sites, missile sites, and Houthi camps in Yemen.
Bahrain sent 15 fighter jets to participate in the operation. Egypt is providing aircraft and naval support while Qatar deployed ten fighter jets. Kuwait offered 15 fighter jets. Sudan sent four fighter jets at the disposal of Saudi Arabia and deployed 6,000 troops for ground operation. Jordan and Morocco each contributed 15 fighter jets to the coalition.
The United Arab Emirates deployed 30 fighter jets responsible in targeting Scud missiles, Houthi camps, air defense systems and other military targets in Yemen.
The United States contributed logistical and intelligence support for the strikes in Yemen, according to White House spokesman Eric Schultz. The U.S. will no participate in active combat.
Pakistan expressed its support for Saudi Arabia after its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spearheaded a “high-level meeting with senior officials to assess the situation in the Middle East.
In a statement, Pakistan said, “The meeting concluded that Pakistan remains firmly committed to supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Pakistan.”
In addition, the Pakistani government said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be contacting the leadership of brotherly countries to facilitate an early resolution of the crisis and promote peace and unity of the Muslim community.
Somalia also expressed support for the coalition’s military operation in Yemen.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of trying to take control of the entire Middle East by using the conflict in Yemen.
Coalition threatened by Iran’s proxy power in Yemen
Political observers believe that Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations are threatened by the possibility of the existence of an Iranian proxy power in Yemen.
Iran could spread its influence in the region if the Houthi rebels succeed in capturing the entire Yemen. It already established influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations told CNN, “I think the Saudis…feel directly, physically threatened by what is happening.” He added the conflict in Yemen could result into a long, protracted religious war.
“You have civil wars; you have proxy wars. You have regional wars all in one. And these things have so many logs on the fire, to use the metaphor that they burn and burn and burn for a long time.”
Nabil Elaraby, chief of the Arab League, emphasized that Iran was intervening in many nations during a news conference on Sunday after a two-day Arab summit.
“Yemen was on the brink of the abyss, requiring effective Arab and international moves after all means of reaching a peaceful resolution had been exhausted to end the Houthi coup and restore legitimacy,” said Elaraby based in the final communique of the Arab League.
Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Middle East are concerned that a nuclear agreement between the United States and Washington could free Iran’s hands to boosts its influence in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and even Bahrain. They believe that the air strikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen are necessary to show their resistance against Iran’s bullying.
Iran, Russia demand Saudi-led coalition to stop air strikes in Yemen
Last week, Iran and Russia urged Saudi Arabia to stop its air strikes in Yemen immediately.
Kremlin issued a statement indicating that Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and called for an “immediate cessation of military activities” in Yemen. Putin also called for increased efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
On the other hand, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif commented that the Saudi-led military operations in Yemen will only result to further destabilization in the region.
“We demand an immediate stop to the Saudi military operations in Yemen, We will spare no effort to contain the crisis in Yemen,” said Zarif during a recent interview with Iran’s al-Alam news network in Arabic language.
On the other hand, Lebanon’s Hezbollah criticized Saudi Arabia’s intervention as “unjust aggression,” and urged the coalition to stop the strikes immediately.
Hezbollah said, “This adventure, [which] lacks wisdom and legal and legitimate justification and which is led by Saudi Arabia, is taking the region towards increased tension and dangers for the future and the present of the region.”