A Saudi Arabia-led military intervention Thursday continued its offensive in Yemen that was launched one night before to try thwart takeover attempts there by Houthi rebels who have assumed control over key cities. The rebels have driven the Yemeni president first from the capital city and now from the country entirely.
Thursday’s airstrikes targeted a military base in the city of Taez and key locations in the north near the border of Saudi Arabia, including an arms depot and an airport in the city of Saada. Leaders from various nations that have a stake in the fate of Yemen voiced their opinions Thursday on the recent military offensive, with responses varying from support of the airstrikes to complete condemnation of the attacks.
The Houthi rebels have forced Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee the country after they captured key strategic landmarks in the country, including the presidential palace and an airport in the port city of Aden. Hadi has reportedly sought refuge in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told FRANCE 24 Thursday that he stood behind the Saudi-led mission and said his country may offer its help if needed. "We support Saudi Arabia's intervention," Erdogan said. "Turkey may consider providing logistical support based on the evolution of the situation."
Egypt, which previously said it stood ready to provide military assistance, had its air force and Navy join the Saudi-led offensive Thursday, and has offered up ground troops if necessary, Agence France Press reported.
The Houthis, who are Shiite Muslims and a minority in Yemen, are widely believed to be supported by Iran, which is trying to “increase its influence in Iraq” while “trying to chase [the Islamic State] from the region only to take its place," according to Erdogan.
Hezbollah, which is funded, trained and controlled by Iran’s Shiite government, also spoke out Thursday against the “aggression,” according to AFP. "Hezbollah strongly condemns the Saudi-American aggression that targets the brotherly people of Yemen, its national army and its vital institutions."
Iraq took a similar stance as Hezbollah and rejected the use of military force by the Saudis in Yemen, according to Reuters. "The Iraqi Foreign Ministry expresses its concern at the military intervention in Yemeni affairs, which leads to complicating the situation further. … Our stance is to reject the use of force and to call on all Yemeni sides to put their differences behind through serious discussion."
Russia also joined the chorus of those condemning the attacks, as President Vladimir Putin Thursday called for an "immediate cessation of military activities."
U.S. President Barack Obama authorized logistical and intelligence support to the Saudis, and Thursday the U.S. was considering offering tankers and radar planes for the operation. According to Reuters, the U.S. Department of State would have preferred diplomatic negotiations to resolve the situation in Yemen but understands why the Saudis reacted with force.
"The world is starving for American leadership but America has an anti-war president," House Speaker John Boehner said when asked about the Saudi decision to engage in Yemen. "America by and large is sitting on the sidelines."