Category Archives: Saudi Arabia

Hezbollah operating in Yemen with Houthis

 Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based Shiite militia, is operating in Yemen on the side of the Houthis with the aid of Iran, a senior Saudi diplomat claimed on Friday.

Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel Al-Jubeir made the claim in an interview on CNN with Wolf Blitzer. “We have reports that the Iranians are providing weapons, training and advisers to the Houthis. We have reports of Hezbollah operatives being in Yemen.”

According to Al-Jubeir, when the Houthis captured Sanaa one of the first things they did was to release captured members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah.

“This is really a war to defend the legitimate government of Yemen and to protect the Yemeni people from being taken over by a radical militant group that is aligned with Iran and Hezbollah.”

Al-Jubeir said the coalition would do “whatever it takes to achieve that objective.”

“The fact that the Houthis are supported by Iran is not a good thing and we are determined to make sure that Yemen does not succumb to the aggression committed by them or any of their allies.”

To a question from Blitzer that there were reports of some Houthi rebels backedby Iran targeting Saudis in the Kingdom, Al-Jubeir said: “We are preparing for all eventualities, inside the Kingdom as well as outside the Kingdom. We are determined to defend Yemen, defend the legitimate government of Yemen, and degrade and destroy the capabilities of the Houthis.”

He said the Yemeni government tried repeatedly over the past year to reason with the Houthis, to negotiate with them, to go through a political process to resolve their differences peacefully. “Every time agreements were reached the Houthis reneged on every single one of them — 67 agreements to be precise,” said Al-Jubeir.

The Saudi diplomat welcomed US support. “We’re very appreciative of the support whether it’s political, logistical or intelligence,” he said. “We are working very closely with the US, consulting very closely … as well as with our other coalition allies.”

Responding to a question about whether there would be a ground invasion, Al-Jubeir said: “We will see what happens when the time comes. So far we are focused on the air war.”

On Iran’s nuclear issue, he said everybody in the region is worried about it. “We have been assured by the (Obama) administration that all paths leading to a nuclear weapon by Iran will be cut off. We have been assured that there will be very intrusive inspections that will ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear capability and we hope that this pans out,” he said.

Al-Jubeir said everybody wants a peaceful solution to Iran’s nuclear program “but it has to be a serious and solid agreement that is verifiable.”

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Pakistan to join Saudi Arabia coalition against Iran and Houthis

Pakistan will send troops to Saudi Arabia to join the coalition fighting Yemeni Houthi rebels, a senior government official said on Monday, joining several Gulf states, Sudan, Egypt and Morocco.

Largely Sunni Muslim Pakistan – a regional ally of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf’s main Sunni Muslim power – would join a Saudi-led military coalition conducting air strikes against Shiite Houthi forces.

The air strikes are targeting the rebels’ southward advance on the port city of Aden, the last bastion of Saudi-backed president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan shares a long border with Iran, considered to be the centre of Shiite power, and has a warm relationship with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main regional rival. An estimated 20 percent of Pakistanis are Shiite.

“We have already pledged full support to Saudi Arabia in its operation against rebels and will join the coalition,” the Pakistani official said.

A Pakistani team, to be led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz, had been due to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Monday but delayed the trip at the request of the Saudis, the official told Reuters.

On Monday night, Aziz and Asif met with Pakistan’s military chiefs and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“Pakistan remains firmly committed to supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Pakistan,” a statement from Sharif’s media office said.

“Pakistan stands committed to playing a meaningful role in arresting the deteriorating situation in the Middle East.

There are already about 750-800 Pakistani servicemen in Saudi Arabia but none are combat troops.

Pakistan has already had small demonstrations both for and against military intervention.

Right-wing religious groups demonstrated last week vowing to defend Saudi Arabia. But some civil society groups and opposition politicians spoke against intervention, on the view that it could further inflame sectarian tensions at home.

Sharif has long enjoyed close relations with the Saudi royal family. After his second term as prime minister was ended by a military coup in 1999, he was sent into exile in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia lent $1.5 billion to Pakistan last year to help Islamabad shore up foreign exchange reserves. Pakistani officials initially refused to divulge the source of the loan.