Saudi Arabia is deploying a significant task force to the border with neighboring Yemen, where Houthi Shiite rebels allegedly forced the president to leave the country. President Hadi has been asking the UN to approve the use of foreign forces in Yemen.
The situation in Yemen remains murky, with Houthi militants claiming capture of the southern seaport of Aden, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s stronghold. The fighters say the city of Aden is now under their control and they’re arresting the president’s supporters there.
The rebels claim Hadi has fled the country, and announced a 20 million riyal ($100,000) reward for Hadi’s capture, Lebanese-based Al-Manar TV reported, citing the rebels’ representatives. While two of the president’s aides have said he remains in Aden and has no intention of leaving the country, later reports claim he has left Yemen.
Yemen’s president has left the country on a boat from Aden, officials told AP. Hadi is now traveling by sea to the neighboring country of Djibouti, Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s secretary told RIA Novosti.
Local residents informed Reuters that Houthi fighters have overrun Al-Anad airbase and entered Aden, arresting the defense minister.
Elements of the Yemeni army who have sided with the rebel fighters have seized control of the Aden international airport, according to Al Mayadeen TV. The airport representatives told AP it was closed with flights canceled for security reasons and the worsening situation in the city.
The objective of the Saudi Arabian troops remains uncertain and even the US, Riyadh’s major ally, is not sure what the House of Saud has on its mind regarding the long-lasting political turmoil of its southern neighbor.
The opinions of US officials contacted by Reuters on the issue are divided. Two said that the concentration of artillery systems and armor on the Saudi border with Yemen have defensive purposes, while other government sources were not so sure.
A US source that described the concentration of Saudi troops as “significant” made a guess that Riyadh might be getting ready to strike the Houthis if they attempt to seize the residence of Yemen’s legitimate president. It cannot be excluded that Saudi Arabia might use its Air Force to strike rebels near Aden.
Hadi has been seeking support from the United Nations Security Council for military action against Houthi militias by “willing countries,” Reuters reports.
The president wants the UNSC to adopt a resolution authorizing “willing countries that wish to help Yemen to provide immediate support for the legitimate authority by all means and measures to protect Yemen and deter the Houthi aggression.”
Hadi has also asked the League of Arab States to immediately interfere in the situation in Yemen, Al Arabiya TV reported, citing a statement by Yemen’s foreign minister, Riad Yassin. A “joint Arab slant” is needed to coordinate and decide on an “immediate military intervention,” Yassin said.
The Arab League’s foreign ministers will meet Thursday to discuss possible military involvement, Reuters reported, referring to the League’s deputy chairman.
Meanwhile, the militants in Yemen have called for all neighboring states to “keep the peace” and “side with the people of Yemen,” an official representative of the Ansar Allah armed group said, as cited by Tass.