Saudi-led coalition pounds Yemen with airstrikes a second day – CNN
Sanaa, Yemen (CNN)A coalition of Middle Eastern forces pounded positions in Yemen from the air overnight in the second day of a campaign to bring a rebel group to its knees.
At least 10 people died in the northwestern province of Saada, home to Abdul Malik Al Houthi, the supreme leader of Houthi Shiite insurgents, Houthi commanders said. More than a dozen more people were wounded, as 15 locations saw airstrikes.
But the military action also targeted a weapon storage site for the Houthis in the capital Sanaa, which the rebels overran in an offensive weeks ago. On Wednesday, Houthis captured parts of Yemen’s second-largest city, Aden.
At least six people died in clashes there on Thursday.
The nations stepping into Yemen’s civil war are predominantly Sunni Muslim, and they are working to rescue a government that has strong Sunni support.
The Houthis are allied with majority Shiite Iran.
Saudi Arabia, the largest contingent in the intervention dubbed al-Hazm Storm, considers the Houthis to be proxies for the Shiite government of Iran and fear another Shiite-dominated state in the region.
“What they do not want is an Iranian-run state on their southern border,” CNN military analyst Lt. Col. Rick Francona said of the Saudis.
Call for help
The kingdom says Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who is out of the country, pleaded for military intervention in a letter.
“I ask you, based on the principle of self-defense in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, and on the basis of the Charter of the Arab League and the treaty of joint Arab defense, to provide instant support by all necessary means, including military intervention to protect Yemen and its people from continuous Houthi aggression,” the letter, which was posted by Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry, read.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that the United States commends the military action and is supporting it through intelligence sharing, targeting assistance and logistical support, a senior State Department official said.
Houthis cut off
The other nations participating in the military action are the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Egypt, a Saudi adviser has said.
The adviser included Pakistan, saying its military was offering naval support. But on Friday, that country’s defense ministry said it had only vowed to defend Saudi Arabia, according to a local media report.
Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt have spoken about the possibility of sending in ground troops.
Saudi Arabia has blockaded the Houthis, effectively cutting off their supply lines. By Thursday afternoon, the Saudis controlled Yemeni airspace, the adviser said, and the military threatened to destroy any naval ships trying to enter Yemeni ports.
Iran upset, Houthis defiant
Supreme leader al-Houthi spoke live Thursday night in Yemen on al-Masirah TV, saying, “If any army try to invade our country, we will prove that Yemen will be a grave for those who invade us.”
Iran denounced the military intervention. Marzieh Afkham, a spokeswoman for the country’s Foreign Ministry, said the operation will throw an already complicated situation into further turmoil and disrupt chances at a peaceful resolution to Yemen’s monthslong internal strife. It also won’t help a region already facing terrorist threats from groups like ISIS and al Qaeda, she said.
“This is a dangerous action against international responsibilities to respect countries’ national sovereignty,” Afkham said, according to a report in Iran’s state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.
At least one major player in Yemen besides the Houthis — the General People’s Congress, which is the party of longtime leader Ali Abdullah Saleh — thinks the Saudis and their partners should stay out.
The GPC says the airstrikes have already led to civilian casualties. The best way to stop the bloodshed is to bring everyone to the negotiating table, the group said.