السبت , يونيو 13 2020

Yemen president accuses 'Iran stooges'

A Yemeni man wearing a military fatigue sits above debris at the site of a Saudi air strike against Houthi rebels near Sanaa Airport 26 March 2015

A Saudi-led coalition carried out air strikes on the Yemeni capital Sanaa for a third night on Friday

Yemen President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi has accused Iran of destabilising the country, calling Houthi rebels the “stooges of Iran”.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia says military intervention in Yemen will continue until the country is “stable and safe”.

The move comes after a third night of airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition hit cities across the country.

The conflict has been described by correspondents as a proxy war between Sunni Arab nations and Shia Iran.

President Hadi was speaking at an Arab League summit in Egypt to discuss the crisis, days after having to flee Yemen as rebels advanced on his stronghold of Aden.

Arab military force

The Saudi-led Operation Decisive Storm has the support of several Arab League members. It was sparked by Wednesday’s rebel advance towards Aden, in southern Yemen – a push that air strikes have failed to stop.

With no sign of an end to the current military campaign, the Yemen president said that military intervention must continue until the Houthi rebels surrendered.

Egypt's President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (L) greets Yemen's President Abdrabbuh-Rabbi Mansour Hadi upon his arrival at Sharm al-Sheikh 27 March 2015

Egypt President Sisi welcomes Yemen President Hadi; Egypt has already pledged warplanes, ships and ground troops if needed.

At the summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for the creation of a joint Arab military force to deal with “unprecedented threats” in the region.

Egypt has already pledged planes, warships and troops to the coalition. President Sisi referred to “”foreign interference” in Yemen – a coded reference to Iran, according to analysts.

On Friday night, Yemeni Foreign Minister Riad Yassin said there was an “arrangement” for ground troops of the Saudi-led coalition to deploy in Yemen.

Iran is alleged to be supporting the Houthis. The rebels officially deny this, but senior figures have been seen in Iran’s holy city of Qom and there are unconfirmed reports of Iranian pilots flying Yemeni planes, reports the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner.

Speaking after President Hadi, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for negotiations to avoid “a long, drawn-out conflict”.

Map showing Houthi control and al-Qaeda area of operation

“Unjustified aggression”

The Houthis have said their aim is to replace Mr Hadi’s government, which they accuse of being corrupt.

Rebel leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi has vowed not to surrender to what he called the “unjustified aggression”.

Iran has also criticised the Saudi intervention. “They have to stop,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday.

Saudi evacuation

Hours before the summit began, the Saudi navy evacuated dozens of its own and foreign diplomats from Aden as airstrikes failed to slow the rebel advance.

US President Barack Obama has reaffirmed his support for the operation. On Friday the US military rescued two Saudi pilots who ejected from their F-15 fighter jet over the Gulf of Aden, a US defence official said.

Screaming and crying

Residents reported an intense overnight bombardment of both Aden and the capital Sanaa, in the third day of airstrikes.

Since the air campaign began, at least 39 civilians – including six children under the age of 10 – have been killed, Yemen health ministry officials say.

A resident of Sanaa, Mohammed al-Jabahi, told AFP news agency that his family had spent the night in fear.

“Whenever a plane flies over our home and is met by anti-aircraft gunfire, my three children run to a corner and start screaming and crying,” he said.

Houthi rebels hold up their weapons to protest against Saudi-led airstrikes, during a rally in Sanaa, Yemen, 26 March 2015

Houthi rebels have taken to the streets to defy Saudi led airstrikes

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Yemen – who is fighting whom?

Militiamen loyal to Yemen's President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi take up positions on the frontline in Lahj province, Yemen (24 March 2015)

Soldiers and militiamen loyal to the president failed to halt rebel forces advancing southwards

The Houthis: Zaidi Shia-led rebels from the north, who seized control of Sanaa last year and have since been expanding their control

President Hadi: Fled to Saudi Arabia after rebel forces advanced on his stronghold in the southern city of Aden

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: Seen by the US as the most dangerous offshoot of al-Qaeda, AQAP opposes both the Houthis and President Hadi.

Islamic State: A Yemeni affiliate of IS has recently emerged, which seeks to eclipse AQAP

Failure ‘not an option for Saudis’

Yemen crisis: An Iranian-Saudi battleground?

Yemen: Waiting for the war

Meeting the Houthis – and their enemies

The rise of Yemen’s Houthi rebels

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