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Abbas backs Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen

March 26, 2015 12:44 P.M. (Updated: March 27, 2015 9:29 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday gave support to military intervention in Yemen by a 10-nation coalition, a statement said.

The announcement by the president's office said Abbas supported the decision to protect the legitimacy of the Yemeni government and stressed the importance of bringing security and unity to the country.

Saudi warplanes bombed Huthi rebels in Yemen on Thursday as the Saudi ambassador to the United States said that the operation had begun with air strikes but that the coalition stood ready to do "whatever it takes" to protect Hadi's government.

At least 13 civilians were killed when seven homes near the air base were hit, a civil defense source said.

Washington said President Barack Obama had authorized the "provision of logistical and intelligence support" for the campaign.

Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE along with Saudi Arabia said they "have decided to answer the call of President Hadi to protect Yemen and his people from the aggression of the (Shiite) Huthi militia".

The official Saudi Press Agency said Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan had all "expressed desire to participate in the operation".

Both Egypt and Jordan confirmed that they were joining the Saudi-led operation.

Egypt said it stood ready to provide ground troops if necessary.

"Coordination is under way with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to prepare for participation by the Egyptian air force and Egyptian navy, and a ground force if the situation warrants, as part of the coalition action," the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Proxy war fears

Yemen has been gripped by growing turmoil since the Shiite Huthi rebels launched a power takeover in Sanaa in February.

The strife has raised fears Yemen could be torn apart by a proxy war between Shiite Iran, accused of backing the rebels, and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, which supports Hadi.

The escalating turmoil in the country -- which borders Saudi Arabia and lies close to key shipping routes -- has pushed up world oil prices on fears it could threaten Middle Eastern petroleum producers.

Hadi appealed to the UN Security Council on Tuesday to "shoulder its responsibilities... to safeguard Yemen from sliding into more chaos and destruction."

Dozens of people have been killed as the Huthis backed by troops allied to former strongman Saleh, have clashed with pro-Hadi forces as they pushed southwards.

The Huthis said they had captured the defense minister in their push southwards deep into Lahj province, adjacent to Aden.

General Mahmud al-Subaihi, who escaped house arrest in Sanaa this month, had been seen as a vital ally of Hadi in charge of organizing Aden's defense lines.

Yemen has allowed Washington to wage a longstanding drone war against Al-Qaeda in the country.

In his letter to the Security Council Tuesday, Hadi voiced concerns that Al-Qaeda would "seize the current instability to spark further chaos".
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