Obama calls Saudi king on ‘collective Yemen goal’
The Obama administration has said it is providing logistical and intelligence support for the Saudi-led 'Operation Decisive Storm'
President Barack Obama offered U.S. support for air strikes led by Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies on Houthi militia camps in Yemen during a phone call with King Salman, the White House said Friday.
"The President and King Salman agreed that our collective goal is to achieve lasting stability in Yemen through a negotiated political solution facilitated by the United Nations and involving all parties as envisioned in the GCC Initiative," National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement.
“I applaud the Saudis for taking this action to protect their homeland and to protect their own neighborhood,” House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, said at a news conference. “If America leads, our allies in the region would be tickled to death and would be happy to join a coalition. But America has to lead.”
The Obama administration has said it is providing “logistical and intelligence support” for the operations. Meehan had earlier justified the offensive against the Houthis as having been requested by Hadi and Yemen’s “legitimate government.”
“While U.S. forces are not taking direct military action in Yemen in support of this effort,” she said in a statement, “we are establishing a joint planning cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate U.S. military and intelligence support.”
The White House on Thursday expressed concern about Iran's alleged role in stoking violence in Yemen. “We have concerns about Iranian activities in Yemen and reports of Iranian flow of arms into Yemen,” Alistair Baskey told Agence France-Presse.
Saudi fighter plane gets American help
Meanwhile, a Saudi fighter plane was hit by a technical problem and its two pilots ejected over the Red Sea on Friday, state media said, adding that the pair had been returned to the country with American help.
"A plane of the F-15S type was stricken by a technical fault yesterday evening over the Red Sea and the two pilots were forced to use their rescue seats," state news agency SPA quoted a defense ministry official saying.
"Praise be to God, the pilots were rescued in coordination with the American side, and the two pilots are in good health and high spirits," the official said.
‘Decisive Storm’ continues
Fighter jets of Saudi-led coalition forces pounded a Republican Guard camp in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa as Operation “Decisive Storm” continued for the second day targeting Houthi strongholds and their camps on Friday.
Saudi and Egyptian warships deployed Friday to the Bab al-Mandab strait off Yemen to secure the strategic sea passage, Egyptian military officials said, aiming to pave the way for possible ground operations, the Associated Press reported.
Earlier on Friday, Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh - who is allied with Houthi leaders and large parts of the army - called for a ceasefire and the resumption of U.N.-brokered dialogue between warring parties.
Witnesses said an air raid by the coalition forces targeted both Houthi members and supporters of Saleh in al-Istiqbal military camp west of the capital.
“Decisive Storm” also launched its air strikes south of Yemen where Houthis and their allies are trying to expand. They targeted al-Anad military camp, which the Houthis had seized last Wednesday.
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