Senegal announced on Monday that it will send 2,100 to support the Saudi Arabia-led campaign against Iran-backed Houthis rebels and their allies in Yemen, according to various media reports.
Mankeur Ndiaye, Senegal’s foreign minister, reportedly said the Saudis requested his country’s assistance to help secure the kingdom’s border with Yemen.
“The international coalition is aiming to protect and secure the holy sites of Islam, Medina and Mecca,” the foreign minister told the Senegalese parliament, Reuters reported.
“The president… has decided to respond favorably to this request by deploying a contingent of 2,100 men in the holy land of Saudi Arabia,” he said.
A Saudi-led Sunni campaign has been launching airstrikes against Shiite Houthi rebels since March 26.
The Houthis control Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and they have allied themselves with military units loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Together, the Houthis and their allies are fighting armed groups who support Yemen’s internationally recognized President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia claims the aim of its campaign is to restore Hadi to power. The U.S., the U.K., and France have been providing logistical support to the Sunni coalition.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister “said his country was considering temporary truces to allow for aid to be delivered in specific areas,” reports BBC.
According to the British news outlet, there are ten countries participating in the military campaign against the Houthis and their allies in Yemen.
Those countries are: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, and Senegal.
“The most obvious potential benefit of a Senegalese military engagement alongside Saudi Arabia would be in the form of closer political and economic ties between the two, and almost certainly direct cash payments from Saudi Arabia to Senegal,” Andrew Lebovich, a security and political analyst focused on West Africa, told The Washington Post.
West Africa’s “Senegal is a majority Sunni Muslim country that has received aid from Saudi Arabia,” notes BBC.