By Max Bartels
Impunity Watch Reporter, The Middle East
Saudi Arabia commenced air strikes in Yemen on Thursday in an attempt to halt the advances of the Houthi militia in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has gathered together a coalition of Arab nations to combat the Houthis, the Saudis are leading the coalition with 100 fighter jets, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 30 aircraft, 15 from Kuwait and Bahrain, 10 from Qatar and Jordan as well as naval support from Pakistan and Egypt. The coalition is made up of all Sunni nations, targeting the Iranian backed Shiite Houthi militia. The Saudis, as well as the other nations in the coalition are concerned about an Iranian run Shiite state on the Arabian Peninsula.
Iran has expressed concern over the coalition airstrikes against the Houthi militia, claiming it further complicates an already complicated situation of internal strife. The Iranian Foreign Ministry claims the coalition attack on the Houthis will allow groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula to grow unchecked and take advantage of the chaos. The IranianForeign Ministry has also denied any military intervention in support of the Houthi militia. On the other hand, the U.S has expressed support for the Saudi led coalition, although Secretary of State Kerry has stated that the U.S will not intervene in the Yemen situation. The U.S supported the now deposed Saudi backed Yemeni government because of their support for the U.S drone strike campaign against Al Qaeda targets in Yemen. The U.S claims it will assist the coalition with intelligence sharing, targeting assistance and logistical support.
The Houthis have emerged as the dominant power in Yemen. The Sunni, Saudi backed Yemeni President Hadi was removed from power in January by the Houthis, since then the country has been in a state of chaos with differnet factions vying for power. The Saudis claim that their military operations are in support of Hadi and the legitimately elected government of Yemen. In support of these operations the Saudis have deployed 150,000 Saudi troops at the Yemen border in case a ground offense is undertaken against the Houthi militia. The Houthis claim that the coalition airstrikes into Yemen only serve to unite the people of Yemen to the Houthi cause. There is little the Houthi forces can do in response to persistent airstrikes but the militia claims that if Saudi ground forces invade they will be repulsed.
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