US cautiously expands involvement in Saudi campaign against Yemen rebels

The US is looking to find a quick solution to the in-fighting in Yemen in order to return its focus to targeting al-Qaida militants in the country.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
April 13, 2015 10:15
1 minute read.
A military vehicle belonging to the presidential guards, which was seized by Houthi fighters

A military vehicle belonging to the presidential guards, which was seized by Houthi fighters during clashes, is seen outside the Presidential Palace in Sanaa. (photo credit: REUTERS)

In a bid to push back the advance of Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, the US is carefully expanding its support for the Saudi-led campaign, though still avoids joining fully.

In a report by the Wall Street Journal, the US has recently intensified its weapon searches on Iranian ships headed for Yemen. April 1 marked the first time forces from the US navy boarded and searched a Panamanian vessel suspected of carrying Iranian weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen.

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Additionally, the US has been aiding the Saudis in searching out appropriate military targets, the Journal report said.

Still, US skepticism remains regarding Saudi Arabia's intentions in Yemen. The US has been encouraging the Saudis to limit their bombings of rebels and political targets, hoping to avoid an open-ended campaign. However, Saudis countered the calls to dial the campaign back prematurely by saying that Yemen is "a tribal society which respects the strong."

According to the report, American officials are looking to find a quick diplomatic solution to the in-fighting in Yemen in order to return the US focus to targeting al-Qaida militants in the country.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia dismissed Iranian calls to end air strikes on neighboring Yemen as Saudi-led attacks hit a military camp in the Yemeni city of Taiz, killing eight civilians, according to a medical source.

The air raids were aimed at a site held by soldiers loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who have joined up with Iranian-allied Houthi rebels against local militias in the South, the source said.



So far, 648 civilians have been killed since the intervention began, according to UN estimates. Saudi-led strikes have hit hospitals, schools, a refugee camp and neighborhoods.

A diplomatic solution to the war seems to be unlikely any time soon, as Yemen’s government-in-exile said it was considering cutting off diplomatic relations with Iran, sources close to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled to Riyadh, said. The sources were speaking to the London-based, Saudi-backed daily Asharq al-Awsat.

Ariel Ben Solomon and Reuters contributed to this report.


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