Saudi Arabia Building Up Military Near Yemen Border
Saudi Arabia is moving heavy military equipment including artillery to its border with Yemen, Reuters reported today. The development raises the possibility of a proxy war in the impoverished country, pitting forces loyal to President Hadi, supported by Saudi Arabia and the GCC, against the Houthi insurgents, supported by Iran.
Iran backs AnsarAllah, or Houthis, and provides them with arms, oil and other financial assistance. The Shia insurgents overran the capital Sanaa in February and overthrew the government of President Hadi, captured the third largest city Taiz on Sunday, and are now poised to attack Aden, the capital of southern Yemen.
On the opposing side is President Hadi, leading elements of the military and the Sunni tribes. Saudi Arabia and the GCC have continued recognizing Hadi as the country’s sole elected and legitimate leader, and are poised to intervene militarily on his behalf. In fact on Monday the Hadi government, now based in Aden, requested GCC military intervention to stop the Houthis. Saudi Arabia has porous 1,800 km (1,100 miles)-long border with Yemen.
An unnamed U.S. official has told Reuters that the Saudi build-up is “significant,” and the Saudis could be preparing airstrikes against the Houthis advancing toward Aden. Hadi’s prospects, however, appears to be worsening and for now he is “pretty well pinned down,” observed the U.S. official.
Photo credit: Supporters of Yemeni President Hadi move a tank from al-Anad airbase in southern province of Lahij; 24 March 2015 (Reuters)