الأحد , أغسطس 16 2020

Saudis threaten Yemen 'measures'

A Houthi fighter poses for a photo outside a presidential guards barrack on a mountain overlooking the presidential palace in Sanaa January 20, 2015

The Houthis have been attempting to extend their control further south

Gulf Arab states will take “necessary measures” against Yemen’s Houthi rebels if a peaceful solution cannot be found to the country’s instability, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has said.

Saud al-Faisal also condemned Iranian “interference” in Yemen.

The UN has warned that Yemen is on the edge of civil war, as the Shia Houthis attempt to tighten their control.

The group has been pushing further south from its northern stronghold, clashing with local armed elements.

This moves the Houthis closer to conflict with forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who is based in the southern port city of Aden.

Map of Yemen

He fled from the capital Sanaa in February, after the Houthis took over the Yemeni government.

But the move has not been recognised by southern leaders or Sunni groups. It has also alarmed Yemen’s Gulf neighbours, in particular Sunni-controlled Saudi Arabia.

Asked if the Saudis would offer military aid to Mr Hadi, whom it recognises as Yemen’s legitimate ruler, Prince Saud said: “Certainly, countries in the region and the Arab world will take the necessary measures to protect the region from aggression,” according to Reuters.

He accused Shia-majority Iran, the Saudis’ main regional rival, of attempting to “stir up sectarian conflict”.

Iran has been accused of backing the Houthis, something both parties deny.

Pro-Houthi police troopers use tear gas to disperse anti-Houthi protesters in Yemens southwestern city of Taiz March 23, 2015

The Houthis seized southern Taiz at the weekend, sparking protests

Yemeni armed members of a local armed resistance group, known as a Popular Committee (PC), supporting President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, sit in a pick up truck as they arrive on March 23, 2015

President Hadi retains strong support in the port of Aden

Prince Saud was speaking at a news conference with the British Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond.

“None of us wants to see military action,” said Mr Hammond, adding that he would discuss with the Saudis and the US how to reinforce President Hadi.

The British have joined the US in withdrawing special military forces from Yemen because of the deteriorating situation there.

The comments come after Mr Hadi’s foreign minster, Riyadh Yaseen, called for Gulf Arab states to intervene in Yemen and for the establishment of a no-fly zone to stop the Houthis’ advance.

At the weekend, the Houthis seized control of the key southern city of Taiz, sparking local protests.

Further deepening the crisis, Islamic State (IS) militants appear to have emerged as a presence in Yemen.

A purported local IS affiliate says it was behind an attack that left 29 dead in Lahj, north of Aden, after another branch claimed the suicide attacks last week in Sanaa that left more than 100 people dead.

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