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Friday, March 27, 2015

Saudi Arabia and Arab allies start massive military offensive in Yemen, as Yemeni President flees the country and Houthi militants advance

Yemeni capital Sanaa after Saudi Arabia-led strikes
(Image: The National)
Situation in a Gulf country Yemen remains extremely tense and dangerous, threatening to turn into a full-scale war, as Saudi Arabia and its Arab Sunni allies started massive military operation in Yemen against the Shia Houthi militants, seeking to oust Yemeni President Adel-Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Shia Houthi militias, apparently backed and supported by Iran, have gained control over significant territories in Yemen, including Yemeni capital of Sanaa, which they have seized back in September 2014, forcing Yemeni President Adel-Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee the city in February 2015 to the Southern coastal city of Aden, where he established his government’s headquarters. Before fleeing the city, Yemeni President and his Cabinet of Ministers were forced to resign under the pressure of Houthis, but once they fled the city they recalled their resignations, claiming to remain legitimate government of the state.


After the deadly bombing of the mosques in Yemeni capital Sanaa, leaving hundreds of dead, Houthis started to advance the city of Aden, seizing more and more government-controlled cities and areas. Yemeni State TV was previously taken by Houthis and came under their control as well, thus, it was broadcasted that there will be a prize for capturing Yemeni President Hadi and his aides as well.

Houthi rebels on the streets of Sanaa, Yemen
(Image: Washington Post)
On 24 March, right after deadly Sanaa bombings, Yemeni President Hadi has called on UN Security Council to start an international military operation in Yemen in order to save the country and to restore control. He also called for imposing no-flight zone in Yemen as well.

Though later, on 25 March, Yemeni President Adel-Rabbo Mansour Hadi was forced to flee the country as Houthis advanced his city of Aden and taken the airport and come other strategic bases here. Aden was retaken later by the forces loyal to the President, but the President himself has left the country, reportedly taking the boat. Hadi’s whereabouts are not known exactly, though there were reports that he fled Yemen to the neighboring Saudi Arabia. Member of Hadi’s government have reportedly also left the country, though Houthis declared earlier on Thursday, 25 March, that they captured Yemeni Defense Minister on the South of the country.

Meanwhile, as the situation deteriorates significantly in a civil war torn Yemen, Saudi Arabia declared start of a massive military operation in Yemen aimed to restore control of the territory, stability and to protect legitimate President Hadi. Arab allies have taken a decision during an emergency meeting of Arab League held on Thursday, 25 March, to participate in a massive military offensive against Shia Houthis in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia Defense Ministry meeting regarding Yemeni strikes
(Image: Al-Jazeera)
More than ten countries including Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Sudan, Bahrain and Morocco have joined Saudi Arabia-led military offensive in Yemen, while Pakistan also stated its readiness to join the military operation. According to the officials, 100 warplanes were deployed for the aerial offensive by Saudi Arabia Armed Forces, while 85 warplanes were deployed by other Arab allies to take part in a massive military offensive dubbed as “Storm of Resolve”. Meanwhile, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and Pakistan stated they are ready to participate in a ground offensive to be held in Yemen, what could be needed later, in order to restore order and security on Yemeni territory.

Thus, Saudi Arabian and Arab allies’ warplanes struck Sanaa where the strongholds of Shia Houthi militias, seeking to oust Yemeni President Hadi, are located. The warplanes bombed Sanaa airport and also nearby Al-Dulaimi military air base of Houthis in attempt to weaken Houthis’ power and ability to strike the missiles as well. Eyewitnesses of an aerial attacks said that at least four or five houses located close to this zone were also destroyed.

Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Egyptian
President ((mage: Daily News of
Egypt)
As for the death toll, 13 people including a doctor from a bombed hospital were officially declared to be killed as a result of a massive military strike. There are dozens of injured as well, while the footage from Yemeni capital show terrible devastation after the offensive.

Saudi Arabia officials stated that they and their Arab allies “will do whatever it takes to protect the legitimate government of Yemen from falling” and to restore stability in the region, forming thus a united Sunni coalition against Shia militants in Yemen, allegedly backed by Shia Iran.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has delivered his official speech to Egyptian citizens declaring that Egypt joins Saudi-led military offensive in Yemen and will participate in a naval and air military operation, and that the country is also ready for a ground offensive to restore order and stability in Yemen, declaring its total political and military support of Saudi-led intervention.

Earlier this week Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has called on Arab allies to immediately form a coalition and start the military operation aimed to stop Houthis’ advance.

Four Egyptian naval vessels have sailed throughout Suez Canal en route to Yemeni Aden on Thursday, 26 March, in order to secure regional waters and to support Saudi Arabia-led military operation in Yemen. State of highest alert was declared, and Egyptian forces are on standby and ready to move once a decision to intervene in Yemen will be taken, according to Egyptian military sources.

Yemeni capital Sanaa after Saudi-led military strikes
(Image: The Daily Mail)
Meanwhile, Yemeni rebel commanders have slammed the offensive, while Iranian officials have strongly denounced Saudi Arabia-led military offensive and demanded an immediate halt of a military strike in Yemen. Iran officials claim that current military operation being carried out by Saudi Arabia and its united Sunni coalition would complicate situation in a civil war torn country and would also complicate efforts to end the conflict, increasing sectarian tensions.


Situation in the region remains tense and dangerous, as Yemeni crisis risks currently to turn into a full-scale war between Sunni monarchies of Gulf region and their Arab allies and Shia Houthi militias, backed and supported by Iran, threatening regional’s security and stability.