26 مارچ، 2015

Saudi Arabia launches air attacks in Yemen >>

SANAA, Yemen — Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes early Thursday in neighboring Yemen, heading a coalition of Arab nations in an effort to dislodge Houthi rebels sweeping through that country.

The strikes were a startling turn of events that came as the Houthis, in control of Yemen’s capital for months, barreled south toward the coastal city of Aden, seizing an air base along the way that was evacuated by U.S. Special Operations forces­ last week.



President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who had taken refuge in Aden after fleeing Sanaa, the capital, was said to have escaped. His whereabouts were unknown.

The military operation was announced Wednesday evening in Washington by Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir, who said it would last until Yemen’s “legitimate government” was restored.

Jubeir said the airstrikes began at 7 p.m. Washington time and were conducted by Saudi Arabia along with “partner nations in the Persian Gulf” and others, although he declined to specify any other participants. He said that some countries had already transferred military assets to Saudi Arabia and that others were on their way.

The United States was not involved in the operation, he said. But the White House announced late Wednesday that President Obama had authorized U.S. forces­ to provide logistical and intelligence support to the operation. American forces were establishing a “Joint Planning Cell” with Saudi Arabia to coordinate military and intelligence assistance, the statement said.

Jubeir said the airstrikes had targeted sites around the country, including Sanaa. “The operations are limited to defending the government and preventing its collapse,” he said.

The gulf countries acted as Aden was close to being seized by the rebels, a victory that would give them control of the country’s main sea gateway.

Hadi has been a key ally of Saudi Arabia and the United States, which has depended on his government to support its efforts against Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. AQAP holds patches of the country and views the Houthis as foes in the competition for influence and Yemen’s modest oil wealth. U.S. efforts included training of Yemeni special operations forces and drone strikes launched from the al-Anad air base, about 35 miles from Aden.

On a broader level, Yemen represents a potential proxy battlefield for Shiite power Iran and the Sunni Gulf Arab states allied with Washington.

Houthi forces seized the al-Anad base this week and reportedly were already flying attack planes from there.
SANA


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