03.25 20:45 ET: Saudi Arabia & GCC Launch Military Operations in Yemen

by John Galt
March 25, 2015 20:55 ET

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As I warned in January, the start of a conflict involving the pro-Iranian Houthis and Arab nations in the region would start within weeks of their movement towards the capitol and as warned, the conflict has now expanded to include the nations of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council launching attacks in Yemen this afternoon. From Al-Jazeera minutes ago:

Saudi ambassador announces military operation in Yemen

Saudi envoy to US says his country has begun airstrikes against Houthi rebels to defend legitimate government of Yemen.

26 Mar 2015 00:37 GMT

Saudi Arabia and a coalition of regional allies have launched a military operation in Yemen against the Houthi rebels, who drove out the US-backed Yemeni president.

Adel al-Jubair said on Wednesday that a coalition consisting of 10 countries, including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), had begun airstrikes at 7pm Eastern time.

“The operation is to defend and support the legitimate government of Yemen and prevent the radical Houthi movement from taking over the country,” Jubair told reporters in Washington.

Separately, a statement issued in Riyadh in the name of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates – the GCC countries without Yemen’s neighbour Oman – said they had been asked for help by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s embattled government.

Al-Jubeir said that for the moment the action was confined to airstrikes on various targets around Yemen, but that other military assets were being mobilised and that the coalition “would do whatever it takes”.

The ambassador said he would not go into detail about the support being provided by Saudi Arabia’s allies, but added “we consulted very closely with many of our allies and in particular with the United States”.

The Saudi ambassador said that the Houthis controlled ballistic and heavy weaponry, and could take control of the country’s air force.

Yemen has been gripped by growing turmoil since Shia Houthi rebels launched a power takeover in the Yemeni capital Sanaa last month.

They have advanced to the southern port city of Aden, where Hadi was based after fleeing from house arrest in Sanaa.

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

Yemen’s acting foreign minister Riyadh Yaseen warned on Wednesday that the fall of Aden would mean the “start of civil war” as he drummed up Arab military support for Hadi, who was taken to a safe haven “within Aden” as the rebels closed in.

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Even though the United States is only providing unspecified support to the operation according to a Reuters report tonight, the Saudi led operation will almost certainly involve the number of United States Marines positioned off the coast of Yemen and other US forces currently stationed in Eastern Africa should they be called upon. Stay tuned for more details as the initial reaction of the markets has been muted at best but WTI crude oil had a nice advance after this information became public late this afternoon. If U.S. forces do participate in ground operations, it will probably look similar to this map that I initially posted in January:

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