CAIRO: Arab Foreign Ministers, except for Iraq, announced their full support to the Saudi military operation, named “Resolute Storm” against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen.
The Foreign Ministers held a meeting on the sidelines of Arab League summit in Sinai’s Sharm al-Sheikh , and are scheduled to issue a statement concerning the political turmoil in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and its allies launched earlier Thursday airstrikes on the Houthis, who took control over Northern provinces of Yemen in September and then took Sanaa again in January.
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his Cabinet were forced to resign in January after he came under house arrest; however Hadi escaped in February to his home region of Aden, where he declared he was still the legitimate president, and Aden was the new capital.
Hadi is still recognized as Yemen’s head of state by most countries, including Egypt, which recently invited him to participate in an Arab League summit starting Thursday in Sharm al-Sheikh.
The Egyptian foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said “Egypt has announced its support of the military interference in Yemen in a response to a request from Yemeni President amid the deteriorating domestic situation.”
“We aim to put Yemen on the road of stability through the initiative of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),” Shouky said in his speech in the Arab Foreign Ministers meeting.
Shoukry retaliated Egypt’s call for forming an Arab Joint Forces to “face the challenges before the Arab region.”
The Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al-Arabi said that the strikes came to put an end to the expansion of the Houthis in Yemen.
“The military operation carried out after all talk session have failed…the military interference of Resolute Storm is for defense not to attack,” Arabi said in the session. He continued “The military operation in Yemen based on Arab League decisions and the Joint Defense Agreement.”
The Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah said the airstrikes were launched after the Houthis rejected the GCC initiative.
Indirect talks took place between the Houthis and the U.S.-backed President Hadi in the Saudi-based GCC to reach a settlement for the Yemen crisis. However, Houthis forces expanded to cities in the south near Aden where Hadi left his house for safe place.
The Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Gafari expressed his country’s opposition to the military operation, saying “the political solution to sail out of the Yemen crisis because the military intervention worsens the situation.”
Oman Sultanate is the only GCC state did not participate in the military operation. Algeria announced that it did not participate in the operation, said the Algerian Foreign Minister Ramadan Lamamra in Sharm el-Sheikh in remarks to the reporters. Both Algeria and Oman abstained to state their situation towards the military operation.
Neighboring Djibouti has also announced its support to the military operation.
Egypt’s Participation in Operation
Egypt participated in the Saudi military operation on the Iran-backed Houthi forces in Yemen Thursday, a source told Reuters.
Egypt is “coordinating” with Saudi Arabia to participate with air, naval and ground forces to “defend Yemen and bring stability and unity to its territories,” Shokry stated Thursday morning on his Facebook page.
Four vessels from the Egyptian navy crossed the Suez Canal towards the Gulf of Aden, Reuters reported. Egypt has stated previously that it would use all possible means even the military option to protect the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, southern Yemen.
The Bab al-Mandeb Strait will “never be closed” and the international navigation of the Red Sea will “never be halted,” Houthi spokesperson Mohamed Abdel Salam told Youm7 Friday.
“We respect Egypt, its people, its President, and all the agreements signed between Yemen and the neighboring countries,” Abdel Salam said, noting that Egypt has helped many Arab nations, particularly Yemen, adding that the group had sent this message to Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
The strait is located between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa, and is crucial to maritime navigation.
Shokry also expressed Egypt’s “deep concerns” over the situations in Yemen over the past few weeks, describing it as “an attack on the legitimate institutions, and spread of violence and terrorism.”
The Military operation:
The operation, named “Resolute Storm,” was ordered by Saudi Monarch Salman bin Abdel Aziz, under the command of Prince Mohamed Salman Bin Abdel-Aziz.
Saudi Arabia stated the strikes came upon a call from President Hadi who asked the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to intervene militarily.
Iranian leadership has been reported in various media to describe the Shiite Houthi takeover as a “revolution,” and the Iranian foreign ministry called Thursday for an immediate halt to all military actions in Yemen, Reuters reported.
Saudi Arabia announced that it sent 100 fighter planes against the Houthis in Yemen, adding that around 150,000 Saudi troops deployed to participate in the operation, Saudi Arabia net channel reported. The Saudi Air Forces imposed a no-fly zone on the Yemeni Aerospace.
Restricting foreign airspace generally requires a United Nations Security Council resolution, which Hadi requested on March 23.
EgyptAir has suspended all flights to Yemen’s capital Sanaa indefinitely following the airstrikes.
The Saudi Airlines cancelled its Thursday flights that should take off the Cairo International Airport to Abha which locates in the south-western Saudi Arabia, according to a statement from the Saudi Company.
Eighteen persons were killed and 24 others were injured in Sanaa from the Saudi airstrikes, reported the Houthi-controlled Saba news agency Thursday.
Saudi Arabia announced through its state news agency no causalities have occurred during the military operation.