A coalition of over ten countries, with the backing of the United States, has commenced a full-scale military operation against the Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen.
The mission has been dubbed operation “Decisive Storm.” Its overall goal is to support the reinstallation of the internationally-recognized President of Yemen, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The Iran-backed Houthis recently led a coup against the recognized government of Yemen, leading much of its leadership to leave the country for the time being. The Houthi militants’ continued aggression came on the heels of the United States’ complete withdrawal from the country.
Early Thursday, Saudi Arabia gathered an impressively large coalition of countries to fight against the Shiite group in Yemen. The Saudis have stated that their goal is to restore the internationally-recognized government in Yemen. “Having Yemen fail cannot be option for us or for our coalition partners,” Abdel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, told CNN.
Because Yemen borders Saudi Arabia, some analysts have argued that the Saudis’ chief motivation for engaging in combat is to shrink Iran’s sphere of influence.
Saudi Arabia has gathered a large coalition of countries in its Yemen offensive. The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan and Sudan will all contribute military support towards stabilizing Yemen, Saudi authorities have said.
The Saudi-run Al-Arabiya news has reported that Saudi Arabia has dedicated 100 fighter jets and 150,000 ground troops towards the mission in Yemen.
To no surprise, Iran has condemned the Sunni coalition’s actions in Yemen. Iran “condemns the airstrikes against Yemen this morning that left some innocent Yemenis wounded and dead and considers this action a dangerous step,” said Iran Foreign Ministry spokesperson Marzieh Afkham on Thursday.
Iran’s proxy terror group, Hezbollah, has also condemned the Yemen operation, calling it “unwise” and “illegitimate.”
The United States government is backing the Saudi-led effort. National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said with regard to the operation: “While U.S. forces are not taking direct military action in Yemen in support of this effort, we are establishing a joint planning cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate U.S. military and intelligence support.”
“President Obama has authorized the provision of intelligence support to GCC(Gulf Cooperation Council)-led military operations,” added the NSC spokeswoman.
On Wednesday, Yemen’s President and his top military officials were forced to flee the Yemeni port city of Aden. They are now in an undisclosed location.
Last week, in order to help the Shiite group continue its conquest, an Iranian ship dumped more than 180 tons of aid and weapons into the hands of the Houthi militants.