Yemen has ‘no better friend’ than KSA: diplomat
Saudi Arabia will continue to use force to stop the Houthi militia from entering Aden or taking Yemen
Saudi Arabia will continue to use force to stop the Houthi militia from entering Aden or taking Yemen - the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. said Wednesday in a press conference in Washington, a day after the Gulf kingdom declared an end to its month-long air campaign.
“If the Houthis or their allies make any aggressive moves there will be a response," Ambassador Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir told reporters, adding that Saudi Arabia was moving to a second phase in the campaign and hoped now that a political dialogue between all Yemeni parties would lead to elections and the implementation of a new constitution.
But he warned: "The Houthis should be under no illusion that we will use force in order to stop them taking over Yemen by aggressive actions. So that will not change."
He said: “We’ve achieved our objective of destroying the Houthis military capabilities. We’re now focusing on the humanitarian, political processes.”
He said: “We have always said that there is no military solution to the conflict in Yemen. That the solution has to be a political one.”
The Houthis should be under no illusion that we will use force in order to stop them taking over Yemen by aggressive actions. So that will not changeAdel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir
He added: “We hope the Houthis will participate in the political process. We will not allow the Houthis to take Yemen by force.” And he warned that that Saudi Arabia would “offer military backing to groups fighting the Houthis especially in southern Yemen.”
Responding to news today of an ongoing push by Houthi militia, the ambassador said there were some “disturbing” movements by the Shiite rebels in the southern port city of Aden, where there were skirmishes and Huthi troops moving into the city from three directions who could enter “within hours.”
Riyadh would respond to a request from “the legitimate government of Yemen to prevent this happening.”
Meanwhile he said that both Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard were present in Yemen.
He added: “Houthis would not have been able to do what they did had it not been for the support of Iran.”
“We don’t believe Iran has any role to play in Yemen. Iran is not a neighboring country of Yemen. They are part of the problem.”
And Jubeir appeared to criticize members of the press for continuing to doubt Iran’s presence there.
Speaking on Operation Decisive Storm he said the objectives “were limited and were achieved with the help of the U.S..”
Jubeir said: “Yemeni people, including the Houthis, have no better friend than KSA. But they must solve problems politically, not by force.”
He said “President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi is still Yemen’s legitimate leader,” and that he would “choose the right time to head back to Yemen.”
Responding to a question about civilian casualties, he said coalition forces had made sure to avoid causing any.
Yemeni people, including the Houthis, have no better friend than KSA. But they must solve problems politically, not by forceAdel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir
“Repel Houthi aggression”
The air campaign “Operation Decisive Storm,” started on March 26, aimed at preventing Houthi militia from using fighter jets, destroying missiles which posed a threat to Saudi Arabia and sea traffic, destroying major ammunition warehouses and demolishing the militia command and control centers.
The Saudi-led military coalition declared Yemen’s airspace as a “restricted area” after King Salman bin Abdulaziz ordered the airstrikes on the Iran-backed Houthi militia on Thursday at 12 a.m. Riyadh time.
The military operation came shortly after Arab Gulf states, barring Oman, announced that they had decided to “repel Houthi aggression” in neighboring Yemen, following a request from Hadi.
The Saudi ambassador also called for an enhanced inspections regime to prevent weapons flowing to the rebels by air and sea, and hoped to set up some kind of international monitoring cooperation.
“We destroyed their air force, we destroyed their ballistic missiles as far as we know, we destroyed their command and control, we destroyed much if not most of their heavy equipment... so we've degraded their capabilities substantially," Jubeir said.