Yemen Calls for Gulf Military InterventionMarch 23, 2015 in ISIS, Yemen
23 March– Yemen’s foreign minister Riyadh Yaseen has called on Gulf Arab military intervention in Yemen to stop territorial advances by Houthi fighters opposed to President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. In a televised interview, Yaseen said, “They’re expanding in territory, occupying airports and cities, attacking Aden with planes, detaining whom they please, threatening and gathering their forces.” Yasseen added, “We have expressed to the Gulf Cooperation Council, the United Nations as well as the international community that there should be a no-fly zone, and the use of military aircraft should be prevented at the airports controlled by the Houthis.”
The call for assistance comes as Yemen’s rebel Houthis escalated attacks against President Hadi, who fled to Aden last month after escaping house arrest at the hands of Houthis in Sanaa. Over the weekend, he made a defiant speech challenging the Houthis in his first public address since leaving Sanaa.
Rebel leader Abdel-Malik al-Houthi, who is reportedly backed by supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, vowed to send fighters into the southern part of the country where Hadi has taken refuge against the rebels. In one of his customary long and heated speeches over the weekend, al-Houthi said the move is meant to target al-Qaeda and other militant groups, as well as forces loyal to Hadi in the south. He referred to President Hadi as “puppet” to international and regional powers, and called the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar conspirators against Yemen.
Al-Houthi’s speech came a day after the Houthis called for a general mobilization against forces loyal to Hadi, and shortly after Houthi rebels seized the country’s third largest city of Taiz, an important station in its advance. The militia had also seized Taiz’s airport. Thousands of protestors swelled into the streets to oppose the capture of the city; the rebels dispersed them by firing into the air and beating them back with batons. The Houthis have taken control of the capital and six provinces.
Amid the unrest, terrorist groups are also gaining greater ground. Over the weekend, al-Qaeda seized the town of al-Houta amid growing violence. And on Friday, ISIS affiliates claimed responsibility for two bombs at mosques in Sana’a, killing up to 150 people. If their responsibility is verified, this marks the first large-scale actions in Yemen, and could drive Yemen further into instability.
In light of the escalating unrest, US troops evacuated al Anad air base on Sunday About 100 American troops and Special Forces units were stationed at the air base. UK Special Forces have pulled out of Yemen as well. The troops were reportedly airlifted from the capital Sana’a over the weekend. Jeff Rathke, US State Department spokesman, said in a statement: “Due to the deteriorating security situation in Yemen, the US government has temporarily relocated its remaining personnel out of Yemen.” The UK Government has not commented on the withdrawal of British troops.
The CIA and US military have carried out drone strikes against insurgents in Yemen for many years. Diplomats from the United States and several European nations fled Yemen in February amid embassy closures resulting from deteriorating security conditions.