Over 48 hours after officially ending its mission of airstrikes against Iran-aligned rebels in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and its allies continue to selectively bomb targets across the country.
According to The New York Times, U.S. officials pressured Saudi Arabia for days before the kingdom finally announced the end of “Operation Resolute Storm.” While the next phase, “Restoring Hope,” is meant to balance diplomatic, political and military efforts, its early stages had much in common with the past four weeks of fighting.
The southern port city of Aden in particular has fallen into a pattern of urban warfare that has claimed hundreds of lives. The rebels, a group called the Houthis that forced American-supported President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi into exile, are approaching the strategically crucial city from three sides. (RELATED: Saudis ‘Eliminate Threat’ In Yemen, Launch Into New Military Mission)
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington noted to the advance, calling it “not the actions of a party that wants peace.” Iran, which supports the Houthis’ aspirations, have pushed for a negotiated diplomatic settlement to the conflict.
But Saudi Arabia, whose goal a month ago was the expulsion of the Houthis and Hadi’s restoration to power, appears unlikely to back down. Having declared the ‘elimination of all threats’ to its own security by the Houthis, Saudi officials are framing the new military campaign as a way of forcing the Houthis to the negotiating table.
Meanwhile, the Saudi-imposed embargo on food, water and medicine continued, further stretching thin a civilian population caught in the middle of an unbidden war. (RELATED: State Department Leaves Americans Stranded In Yemen, So CAIR Steps In)
And al-Qaida, many of whose leaders and fighters remain in Yemen’s emptier provinces, may have the most to gain from Saudi Arabia’s focus on the Houthis. The group, as well as terrorists claiming ties to Islamic State, have stepped up their activity in recent weeks, and as Reuters describes it, “taking advantage of the chaos to capture more ground.”
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