Saudi Ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir said on Thursday that the kingdom “will do anything necessary” to protect the people of Yemen and “the legitimate government of Yemen.”
“Having Yemen fail cannot be an option for us or our coalition partners,” Al-Jubeir told reporters in Washington shortly after Saudi king Salman bin Abdulaziz ordered a military operation against Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
Watch the full address by the Saudi ambassador here:
Loud, house-shaking explosions could be heard in the Yemen capital of Sanaa and fire and smoke could be seen in the night sky, according to an Associated Press correspondent whose home is near the military airbase in the capital.
Ambassador al-Jubeir said his government had consulted closely with the U.S. and other allies, but said the U.S. military was not involved in the operations. Nine other countries have joined the military coalition, he said from a podium at the Saudi embassy, but he declined to name them.
The Saudi strikes were the latest in a series of fast moving developments in Yemen - a rugged, poor, isolated country that is home to an al-Qaeda affiliate that has been the target of repeated American drone strikes.
Driven weeks ago from the capital by the Houthis, U.S.- and Saudi-backed Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was targeted at least three times this week when his presidential compound came under attack.
Al-Jubeir said the Saudi airstrikes were designed “to prevent Yemen from falling into the hands of the Houthis,” but the reality is that the capital and some of the country's main cities have already fallen to the group, and ground troops will be required to take them back. The ambassador said he didn't want to discuss military details.
It was unacceptable, Al-Jubeir said, that a “militia,” as he called the Houthis, should have air power, along with “ballistic missiles, heavy weapons as well as military bases and ports.”
Al-Jubeir recounted a series of diplomatic efforts to dissuade the Houthi from continuing their offensive. But, he said, they “have always chosen the path of violence.”
He says the Saudis “will do anything necessary” to protect the people of Yemen and “the legitimate government of Yemen.”
[With AP]SHOW MORE