By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch, Managing Editor
SANA’A, Yemen – Collation airstrikes led by Saudi Arabia continued bombing Houthi targets in Yemen a day after Yemini President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled the Yemini capital in February, arrived in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Coalition targets included the Shia rebel group’s stronghold of Saada. Yemen’s besieged government said Saudi-led airstrikes would not last long on the second day, however spokesman of the coalition announced on Thursday that the military operation against the Houthi would continue “as long as necessary.” United States Department of State Spokesperson Jeff Rathke, stated that the United States government “understands the concerns” of the Saudis and is “supportive of their effort”. According to the international human rights group Amnesty International at least six children were among 25 people killed in the air strikes in the capital city of Sana’a on Thursday. Earlier, Houthi sources reported that at least 18 people had been killed by the strikes.
The Saudi led coalition, whose members are mostly Arab Gulf States, began its campaign of airstrikes Thursday in an attempt to push back Houthi gains in Yemen, which borders Saudi Arabia on the Arabian Peninsula. President Hadi left Yemen on Thursday and is expected to attend an Arab summit meeting Shamal Shake Egypt on Saturday, where he is expected to attempt to shore up Arab support for the campaign against the rebels. In a Facebook post by President Hadi the Yemini leader urged Yemenis to be patient, saying the “rebels” would soon be gone. However, despite the air strikes, Houthi forces pushed forward in their attempt to extent control in the region south of Sana’a.
Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, in a televised speech, described the Saudi-led operation as a “despicable aggression.” Al-Houthi said, “What do they expect us to do, surrender, announce our defeat and act like cowards? Absolutely not. This is not how the honorable Yemeni people think. We will fight back. All 24 million Yemenis will stand united and face that despicable aggression.”
Iran, which has been accused of supporting the Houthis but denies the allegation, has condemned the airstrikes as “a dangerous step” that violated “international responsibilities and national sovereignty”. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the coalition airstrikes amounted to “military aggression” and “condemned all military intervention in the internal affairs of independent nations.” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is in Switzerland participating in negations regarding the country’s nuclear program, argued that air strikes would lead only to greater loss of life. “Military action from outside of Yemen against its territorial integrity and its people will have no other result than more bloodshed and more deaths,” he told the Iran’s state-owned Al-Alam television channel.
The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Friday that Saudi Arabia felt it necessary to intervene in Yemen to avoid an Iranian-backed regime taking over Yemen, which shares a border with Saudi Arabia. He said, “the Saudis are very exercised by the idea of an Iranian-backed regime in Yemen,” he told reporters during a visit to Washington. “They cannot accept the idea of an Iranian-backed regime in control of Yemen, which is why they felt compelled to intervene the way they have.” He added, “we know there has been Iranian support for the Houthi and we are all concerned to avoid this becoming a proxy war.”
For more information please see:
Al Jazeera – Coalition Jets Continue To Hit Houthi Targets In Yemen – 27 March 2015
Reuters – Britain’s Hammond: Saudis Cannot Accept Iranian-Backed Regime in Yemen – 27 March 2015
Reuters – Saudi-Led Campaign Strikes Yemen’s Sanaa, Morocco Joins Alliance – 27 March 2015
Al Jazeera – Iran Warns Of Bloodshed as Saudi-Led Forces Bomb Yemen – 26 March 2015