World powers react to ‘Decisive Storm’ in Yemen
Western and Arab powers express their backing of the Saudi-led 'Operation Decisive Storm' waged to halt the Houthi advance
Western and Arab powers expressed on Thursday their backing of the Saudi-led “Operation Decisive Storm” waged to halt the Houthi advance in Yemen. The campaign was met with mixed reactions, however, from Iran, Russia and China.
The United States is coordinating closely with Saudi Arabia and regional allies in the military action against Houthi rebels in Yemen, including providing intelligence and logistical support, the White House said Wednesday.
“President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC-led military operations,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday held a conference call with Gulf ministers to discuss the Yemen crisis amid Saudi air strikes on Houthi rebels, a senior U.S. official said.
The top U.S. diplomat "commended the work of the coalition taking military action against the Houthis" and noted Washington's support "including intelligence sharing, targeting assistance, and advisory and logistical support for strikes against Houthi targets," the State Department official said.
"The ministers all expressed their support for political negotiations as the best way to resolve the crisis, but also noted that it is the Huthis who have instead waged a military campaign," the U.S. official said.
The UK said the recent Houthi actions and expansion in Yemen are “a further signal of their disregard for the political process.”
It also said the “ultimate solution” for Yemen was political in nature.
A British Foreign Office Spokesperson said:
“We support the Saudi Arabian military intervention in Yemen following President Hadi’s request for support by ‘all means and measures to protect Yemen and deter Houthi aggression.’ As the U.N. Security Council has made clear, President Hadi is Yemen's legitimate President.
“The recent Houthi actions and expansion in Aden and Taiz is a further signal of their disregard for the political process. Any action taken should be in accordance with international law.
“Ultimately, the solution to the crisis must be a political one. The international community will continue to use diplomatic and humanitarian support to achieve long-term stability, avoid civil war, economic collapse and a deeper humanitarian crisis in Yemen.”
Meanwhile, France said on Thursday that it stands with its partners until Yemen regains stability.
It also described “OperatDecisive Storm” as being a response to the “legitimate” Yemen authorities’ request.
The European Union
Military action is not a solution to the crisis in Yemen, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Thursday, urging regional powers to act responsibly.
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Raanders told "belga", the official news agency of Belgium, that "the military operation in Yemen confirms once again the need to move at the regional level to contain the risk of instability and insecurity."
Raadners, who is visiting the United Arab Emirates, said that the alliance at the regional level is the first work to be done to contain conflicts.
In a joint statement Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait said they “decided to repel Houthi militias, al-Qaeda and ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] in the country.”
The Gulf states warned that the Houthi coup in Yemen represented a “major threat” to the region’s stability.
The Gulf states also accused the Iranian-backed militia of conducting military drills on the border of Saudi Arabia with “heavy weapons.”
In an apparent reference to Iran, the Gulf statement said the “Houthi militia is backed by regional powers in order for it to be their base of influence.”
The Gulf states said they had monitored the situation and the Houthi coup in Yemen with “great pain” and accused the Shiite militia of failing to respond to warnings from the United Nations Security Council as well as the GCC.
The statement stressed that the Arab states had sought over the previous period to restore stability in Yemen, noting the last initiative to host peace talks under the auspices of the GCC.
United Arab Emirates
The UAE considers intervention in Yemen a necessity considering the military threat posed on the GCC states with Al Houthi group's takeover of large parts of the country, Dr. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs has said.
“Strategic change in the region is occurring in the interests of Iran, which is being fulfilled by Al-Houthis, and it cannot be ignored. The encroachment of Al-Houthis has exhausted all political options,” he wrote on Twitter.
Egypt is providing political and military support for an operation launched by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies against Houthi fighters in Yemen, the state news agency said on Thursday.
It quoted the foreign ministry as saying coordination was under way with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab countries to prepare for Egyptian air, naval and ground support if necessary.
Egypt is participating in the campaign with its naval and air forces, an Egyptian military source said.
Jordan said it is participating in the operation to support the legitimate government of Yemen, an official source confirmed Thursday.
“The Kingdom's participation comes in line with supporting legitimacy in Yemen and its security and stability. It is also an embodiment of the historical relations between the Kingdom and the Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, the security and stability of which is a high Jordanian strategic interest,” the source’s statement said.
The source also stressed that Jordan supports legitimacy in Yemen and the political process which brings all parties together.
Morocco announced on Thursday its support and “complete solidarity” with Saudi Arabia after the Gulf kingdom began its operation “Decisive Storm” against the Houthis in Yemen, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
“Morocco announces its complete and absolute solidarity with Saudi Arabia and its backing to Yemen’s legitimacy,” its foreign ministry said, adding that Riyadh has the right to “defend” itself against imminent threats.
Sudan closed the offices of all Iranian missions and groups in the country on Thursday as Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, launched a military operation against Tehran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir also ended all ties with former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is fighting alongside Houthi rebels to reclaim power in Yemen, the news channel reported.
Turkey has announced its support for the Saudi-led military operation in Yemen calling on the Houthis and their “foreign supporters to abandon acts which threaten peace and security in region," a foreign ministry statement said.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry demanded on Thursday an immediate halt to the Saudi-led military operation describing it as “military aggression,” semi-Official Fars news agency reported.
“The Saudi-led air strikes should stop immediately and it is against Yemen’s sovereignty,” the Students News Agency quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying, according to AFP.
“We will make all efforts to control crisis in Yemen,” Zarif said, according to the agency’s report from the Swiss city of Lausanne where he is negotiating with world powers on curbing Iran’s nuclear program.
“Iran wants an immediate halt to all military aggressions and air strikes against Yemen and its people ... Military actions in Yemen, which faces a domestic crisis, ... will further complicate the situation ... and will hinder efforts to resolve the crisis through peaceful ways,” Fars quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as saying, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, the Syrian state news agency SANA said: “Gulf war planes led by the regime of the Saudi family launch a blatant aggression on Yemen.”
The Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad is an ally of Iran, which is in turn allied with the Yemeni Houthi rebels who are fighting to oust the country’s president.
Iraq's foreign minister opposed Saudi-led air strikes on Houthis, saying military intervention was not a solution.
Ibrahim al-Jaafari, whose Shiite-led government is fighting Sunni jihadists in Iraq with Western and Iranian backing, said he supported a "peaceful" approach to Yemen.
"We are not with the strikes, and we are against foreign intervention," he told AFP ahead of an Arab foreign ministers' meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
"I don't think military solutions can be the start of a resolution. We support peaceful solutions," he said.
Moscow expressed its “concern” over the situation in Yemen in addition to the country’s sovereignty and unity, “which it has always supported.”
Moscow called for all parties to desist from using armed power to reach ends.
“We believe that a settlement of the crisis cannot be reached without broad national dialogue. Russia continues to closely communicate with all sides in the Yemeni crisis through all channels, including the United Nations, to find peaceful solutions to end armed conflict in Yemen,” a statement from Moscow said.
China's foreign ministry said on Thursday it was deeply concerned about the worsening situation in Yemen.
Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that China urges all parties to act in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions on Yemen, and to resolve the dispute through dialogue.
Hua told a news conference that China hopes all parties involved will "quickly resolve the dispute through political dialogue, solve the current crisis and restore domestic stability and normality to Yemen at an early date."
[With AFP and Reuters]
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