Updated at 4:30pm to reflect Qatar Airways has suspended flights to Yemen
Qatar has taken part in a Saudi-led military offensive against Houthi rebels in Yemen today, alongside several other GCC and Arab countries, in support of the deposed Yemeni president.
“The operation is to defend and support the legitimate government of Yemen and prevent the radical Houthi movement from taking over the country,” Adel al-Jubair, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, told reporters in Washington on Thursday.
Together with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are also participating in the military operation, which has so far resulted in the retaking of the Aden International Airport and Badr Camp, after “violent clashes,” QNA reports.
Some 17 civilians in Yemen have been killed in the airstrikes since the operation began, and three Houthi military commanders have reportedly been killed in the attacks, Al Jazeera reports.
The five states announced earlier that they made a decision to “answer the call of President (Abd Rabbuh Mansour) Hadi to protect Yemen and his people from the aggression of the Houthi militia.”
The Houthis hail from the Shia Zaydi community, which makes up around a third of Yemen’s population and is concentrated in the north, according to the Guardian.
During the rebels’ bid to take over power in Yemen, the president fled from the capital last month, and was based in the southern city of Aden until this week, when Houthi troops advanced in the area.
In a joint statement, the nations said the rebels were “not only menacing the security of Yemen, but also the security of the entire region as well as world peace.”
According to Al Arabiya, the UAE has deployed 30 fighter jets, Bahrain 15, Kuwait 15, Qatar 10 and Jordan 6 warplanes.
Speaking to Doha News, David Roberts, a lecturer at King’s College in London, said if accurate, this would be “the largest military operation” to date launched by the GCC.
Oman, which neighbors Yemen, is the only GCC country not participating in the offensive, dubbed “Decisive Storm.”
Support from other countries
Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan have also expressed their willingness to participate in the military action. A statement from Egypt’s state news agency said:
“There is coordination ongoing now with Saudi Arabia and the brotherly Gulf countries about preparations to participate with an Egyptian air and naval forces and ground troops if necessary.”
The US has also announced its support for the strikes, although it is not directly taking part in the military action.
“President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC-led military operations,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement.
The military measures also appeared to have mixed support in Qatar:
Preemptive military solution, came as a result of long process of preventive diplomacy and national dialogues between parties. #Yemen
— Reem Al-Harmi ريم الحرمي (@Reem_AlHarmi) March 26, 2015
Foreign intervention never helped in any country and it will not help in Yemen too. Rather foreign intervention will make things disastrous.
— #देशहित में पेट्रोल का दाम बढ़ाओ ! (@bharatwasi_007) March 26, 2015
Qatar’s air strength effectively consists of 12 French-made Mirage 2000 planes that analysts have said were manufactured in the late 1990s, but have been modified several times since. The country has discussed buying 72 new combat aircraft since 2013.
The last reported action for Qatar’s Emiri Air Force was in September, when the US government said the country “played a supporting role” in an aerial campaign above Syria.
Media reports at the time stated that Qatar planes provided surveillance as fighter jets from the US, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE bombed ISIL targets.
Qatar never officially confirmed its role in the campaign, and has so far not publicly commented on its specific role in Yemen beyond carrying a joint statement with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE saying it “expressed great concern” at the events in Yemen.
On its travel alerts page, Qatar Airways said this afternoon that it is temporarily suspending flights to Yemen due to the “security situation”.
Bahrain-based Gulf Air has also stopped flights to Sanaa for now, paring down the small number of international airlines in the region that are continuing to service the Yemeni capital.
According to Roberts, the conflict in Yemen has Arab countries particularly worried because it would give Iran a chance to gain a foothold over the Arabian Peninsula through the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which are considered “Iranian proxies.”
Some analysts have said Iran’s support comes as it is locked in a struggle for influence in the Middle East with its regional rival Saudi Arabia.
This battle is primarily playing out in weak states such as Yemen and Syria, argued F. Gregory Gause, a senior fellow at the Brookings Doha Center. In a 2014 paper, he framed the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran as “The New Middle East Cold War.”
“Riyadh and Tehran are playing a balance of power game,” Gause wrote.
“The object of the cold war rivalry for Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other regional powers is not to defeat their regional rivals militarily on the battlefield. It is to promote the fortunes of their own clients in these weak state domestic struggles and thus build up regional influence.”
For its part, Iran has denied providing money or training to Houthi forces and condemned the aerial bombardment, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, news of the bombing campaign helped bump up oil prices Wednesday over concerns that a widening conflict in Yemen could disrupt exports being shipped from the region.
“Yemen is not an oil producer of great significance but it’s located geographically and politically in a very important part of the Middle East,” Ric Spooner, a chief strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, told Bloomberg.
Higher oil prices, which are indirectly tied to natural gas prices, will boost Qatar’s government revenues in the short term. However, security concerns surrounding shipping in the region could adversely affect Qatar’s LNG exports.
This morning, Qatar’s stock exchange took a nose-dive when trading opened before recovering some of its lost value. The country’s main index was down 0.8 percent shortly after noon.
“Riyadh and Tehran are playing a balance of power game,” Gause wrote. So, it’s a game when people get killed. I want to play it, too. Is it for a PC or the iPhone?
Kudos! The name of the game is Decisive Storm and you can get it in both Apple and Android. And part of our promo, if you reach 1 million score – we’ll give you a gun and a free ticket to Yemen!
Terms and Conditions apply.
It is high time someone checked Iran! They have been establishing or supporting cancerous and terror cells all over the Middle East starting from Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain… Hopefully this operation will uproot the Houthi’s clan and be a stepping stone to peace in Yemen!
Doubt it. When a 1/3 of the population feels shabbily treated (and with good reason) it is a not a recipe for stability. Good luck ‘uprooting’ such a large percentage of the population.
I’m no expert on Yemeni sociological affairs, however I strongly believe that the Houthis are not the only people living below standard. Also, I don’t believe that the entire 1/3 of the people agree with the actions of the Houthis although they might be Shia. The Houthi proxy are portraying themselves as “heroes to their fan base but in reality they are mere pawns in the hands of Khomaini. If you want to see how this will end up without this operation, search run a google search about Hezbollah!
Frankly, I’d take a world with a stronger Iran and weaker Saudi Arabia. I’ve a lot of time for the Iranian people – the government not so much. On the other hand, if Saudi fell into the ocean it’d be great for world stability and safety.
Thank goodness you are not a world leader then!
Thank goodness you are not a world leader then!
How do you know I’m not? Hmmm? As the old saying goes, on the internet, no ones you’re a horse.
Not really. There’d still be the problems between the Sunni and the Shia.
Yes, sadly the fraternal animosity between those groups will probably last for decades last for years, but all things considered, the natural ally for Europe and the US etc, is still as it has historically been, Persians before Gulf Arabs.
True. Iran is supporting rebel groups in countries like Iraq. But… who are these rebel groups fighting? Other rebel groups armed and funded by other Arab countries.
There is plenty of finger pointing to be done when it comes to countries establishing and supporting terror cells in this region.
It all started somewhere and then spiraled out of control. Each country aspiring for power and political influence has it’s own methods and proxies.
Regarding the situation in Iraq, discussing this will open the same old story of the Iraqi war and the stupid US intervention in the first place. Had Saddam still been in control non of this would have happened. The power vacuum intentionally created by the US by destroying the Iraqi army and toppling Saddam was the nucleus for all of this.
But Ayatollah Khammei says all Iranians are peaceful and they do not interfere in the affairs of other countries, the world’s problems are blamed on the evil west.
So you are saying Iran a Religious Dictatorship cannot be trusted?
Ok so lets “check” Iran and it’s support for Hezbollah, Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and PALESTINE…. what’s wrong with that ? they are making more efforts than any other country has ever offered to the oppressed people. Lets say if they are not oppressed people and are terrorists, then why haven’t they taken over Saudi Arabia yet? why haven’t we heard of any attacks taken place by Iran or any of the Iranian supporters on any Sunni country in the region? Pakistan, Kazakistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, KSA or Afghanistan… why hasn’t Iran ever attacked any of these countries ??? that is the bigger and more logical question! They have support from Russia and China and weapons that can do a ton of damage, so why didn’t they do it other than Iraq in Gulf War? Just because they are as extreme, actually less extreme than Saudi Arabia and chant slogans that are non American or Israeli that makes them a really big threat and enemy of Saudi Arabia? I highly doubt it, I think Saudi Arabia has a personal hate towards Shias and this is purely based on sectarianism and nothing to do with Iran’s position.
Good to see the GCC working together against a common enemy. Yemen needs help.
Iran is helping the GCC to push back ISIS on one front, but is an enemy of the GCC in Yemen, which of course is nothing to do with Yemen’s position at the mouth of the Red Sea shipping route. What a mess of duplicity the middle East is.
Some may argue that the current situation is the fault of foreign powers intervening. However, throughout history the Middle East has always been torn by assassinations, killings, and brutal wars. They are just doing what they do best.
Says the American, lol!
Americans always ride on the self righteous horse. They know everything the rest are just idiots- American logic.
The Shia/Sunni religious war started something like 1200 years ago and has continued unabated with the hatred increasing to new levels fuelled by vested interests in energy supplies, water, and land. Western intervention hasn’t greatly helped but I agree that this is a religious war and always will be.
Iran will deny anything, they don’t want to anger the allies of the Arab nations, namely the USA. Meanwhile they’re opening terrorist training centers in their country, behind closed doors of course.
I wonder how you came to know that, after all it was behind closed doors…
So, so called Sunni countries attack heretical Shias on the basis of bringing peace. Religious dividing lines yet again lead to violence and death.
According to Ibrahim Ali this is wrong. It’s all coming from the USA. There is no fight between Shia and Sunni, they are all Muslims. Aren’t they?
The one thing you learn straight out of the worm is never trust a word of an Arab leader or politician. They will tell you they are the best of friends as they are arranging to have a rival murdered and then blaming it on someone else.
I’ve worked out there are only 6 true Muslims in the world, as the phrase I keep hearing is, ‘you can’t judge Islam on the violent acts of these people, they are not true muslims….’
But can you trust any politician at all?
All politicians are liars and only care about themselves and how much money goes in their pockets.
we should trust western leaders like bush who invaded a country and killed thousands on the basis of lies. The best part- he was reelected a year later. The Americans are true geniuses.
Daniel, that is how it is suppose to be. Shias and Sunnis being Muslims. But most Muslims are stupid and are brainwashed by these clerics that spread hate. Sunni clerics provoke them to hate Shias and Shias clerics do the same thing. I am a Shia and I stopped listening to these idiots when I realized that hate is not a part of Islam. I have friends from every religious backgrounds and really close ones too. But there are many Muslims unfortunately that are extremely biased and ignorant that don’t follow the basics of Islam which is to use the logic and read. The first word in Quran is “READ”, but who does? There’s something really wrong in their heads seriously!
That sounds reasonable, Ali, but it cannot count as an excuse. Maybe the question should be: Why is there something really wrong in their heads?
No, Sunni countries are attacking a terrorist group that illegitimately over threw a government using death and destruction. Not to mention it threatening Red Sea trade routes…
You sound like an American now. Ooooh they are terrorists so we have a legitimate reason to kill them.
That is such a stupid thing to say. Let me get this right, if you are saying Sunnis are attacking the terrorist groups, that means the Syrian opposition is a terrorist movement as the Egyptian, as the Tunisian right? everyone that does a protest to overthrow a government should be a terrorist in your eyes.
No Ali. The Syrian, Tunisian and Egyptian protests began peacefully. The Houthis – backed by Iran – destabilized the country and overthrew the elected government using military force and quite frankly terrorism from the start because it was their intention.
So did Bahraini and Saudia went to Bahrain to kill civilians and demolish mosques.
So when Qatar backed rebels in Syria, Libya and Egypt with arms and money that was ok but if Iran does the same that is wrong. Sounds like your opinions are divided on religious lines…..
Religious lines? What does that to do with me? When the unrest started in Syria in 2011 there were no “rebels” there were protestors and activists. When the Assad Murdering Machine started butchering unarmed civilians “rebels” formed. It was then that Qatar and the rest started supporting them.
I don’t recall the Yemeni government butchering peaceful demonstrating Houthis, do you?
Syria did start as a non religious protest against he butcher Assad but was soon hijacked by religious groups and those groups were supported by Qatar. That’s why no sensible person knows who to support in Syria now, as they are all as bad as each other. Ordinary Syrians are worried that Assad may go but they will get a religious dictatorship as in Iran.
Yemen has discrimaed against the Houthis for years and this is not the first time the saudi military has attacked them. Same as the Palestinians, force them into a corner, give them no hope and they fight back as they have nothing left to lose.
How long before someone throws in the US, Israel and the evil western powers are behind this.
I say let them keep killing each other over their religious differences until no one is left, then the world will be a better place.
It will still be the fault of the USA.
The Arab nations are definitely responsible for their actions, but lets not forget who created the power vacuum in the first place?
Yeah, religious violence in the Middle East is all Americas fault, even that stuff that started over a thousand years ago. It was the American indians with their mind Rays forcing people to fight and kill…..
Please don’t humiliate yourself further!
Yes this sums it up.
If you think of it, the US is indirectly involved in creating this mess. How? By supporting creating a power vacuum in Iraq and then lobbying for a Shia prime minister which is an Iranian lap dog, in the process helping Iran to flex its muscle in the region.
Yes, and the same applies to the wars and killings in the region that happened 2,000 years ago. Unfortunately the USA didn’t exist then. So, who are you blaming for that?
Except Shias and Sunnis did not exist then.
Yep,it they did not sell them iPhones, Big Macs and cars none of this would have happened.
If you didn’t install and prop up a brutal backward salafist regime with innumerable terrorist proxies in Saudi Arabia, if you didn’t destabilize governments who are not friendly to your interests, if you didn’t provide weapons and funding and ideology to the most destructive negative elements of societies across the Middle East and Asia, if you didn’t redraw boundaries excluding the Palestinians from the land they cultivated and support their oppression and provide weapons to their oppressors and bulldozers to knock down their homes, and encourage embargoes to cripple their economies, then yes, goodness, who would we blame then? Fortunately you did do all those things so we can still blame the US. Thank goodness.
It’s been 9 hours since your comment, and no one did. You seem to be far from reality, get out of your bubble.
They could be behind this. If they didn’t want this to happen then it wouldn’t. Regardless what part they are playing, if muslims saw shias and sunnis as equal or at least without hatred towards eachother then there would be a more united Arab front. The lack of arab unity is our own fault.
This isn’t about religion though. It is a power (and superiority) grab using differences among two groups of people. It could be religion, ethnicity, race, tribal roots, social class, wealth, different gangs etc. It is a human problem and will continue to be so if greed and inequality is seen as acceptable.
The infamous western powers. The very ones that bombed Iraq on the basis of lies and fabricated evidence. The very ones that bombed Libya just 3 years after Gaddafi had actually made peace with them. The very west that armed terrorist groups with the sole aim of overthrowing the Afghanistan govt. The ones that armed rebel groups in Syria and after creating a monster Daesh are now running away from the show. The very ones that helped a drug baron to overthrow a govt in Colombia and injected drugs into the US and created a drug epidemic among the African Americans causing the deaths of many and ruining their families. The very same west that tried to overthrow the govt in Venezuela. The very ones that has tried to assasinate Fidel Castro. The very ones that overthrew a democratically elected govt in Egypt. I guess they deserve a Nobel Peace Prize for all this. Oh sorry Obama already has one. Rather than barking I know history, go read and update yourself. The Iranian revolution and the Iranian govt are the best thing that happened. It showed the US and their poodles their place.
You chuck in a lot of different things there. Iraq was wrong and bush and Blair should be on trial for it. Libya and Syria are different, those fighting the despot in Libya asked for help, those in Syria fighting another murderer asked for help and didn’t get it. (They got Qatar and Iran backing their favour tire religious extremists instead)
Obama getting a Nobel peace prize, what a joke. Gitmo is still there and only recently did he get the troops out of Afghanistan.
As for iran you couldn’t be more wrong, the Iranian uprising against the shah was hijacked but Islamic extremists and Iranians now suffer in a religious dictatorship. Any dissent is brutally put down by the regime. Iranians deserve freedom.
Two children fight over a toy, they pull it this way and that until it rips into two. Now it is no use to anyone. While they look at it broken on the floor they have forgotten what they were fighting about.
Ok, so who’s winning?
So the country that actually cried and begged for help aka Palestine, everyone was busy watching how Brazil got beat by Germany. But now a country that didn’t ask anyone to interfere or do anything, Qatar is joining forces with KSA to get them freedom? where were these countries when saddam did massacres in Iraq? Where were they when Palestine was being invaded? where were they when Lebanon was being occupied by israel? All of a sudden when Houtis came in power Saudis woke up… WHY?
They fear the Shia minorities in their own countries.
What is wrong with the hearts and minds of people nowadays. All you do is hurt one another. How can our planet and its people be at peace when some doesnt even know how to unite and help each other. Different nations..religions..and beliefs but still we should take good care of what we have now for the next generation. Is bombing and killing others the solution for every misunderstanding and not being agreed to what was being talked/discussed about? May God bless all nations and their leaders to enlightened its minds and bring up a different solution so that no one will be harmed.