Saudi operation seeks to protect Yemenis
The Saudi Ambassador to the United States of America, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, has said that Operation Renewal of Hope, which began on Tuesday, aims to focus on the political process, protecting the Yemeni people and repulsing any aggressive actions carried out by the Houthis.
In a press conference held Wednesday at the headquarters of the Saudi Embassy in Washington, he said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday the end of Operation Determination Storm and the start of Operation Renewal of Hope in Yemen, saying that Determination Storm was designed to remove any threats against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by ballistic missiles, heavy weapons and planes seized by the Houthi militia and their ally, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Saudi Press Agency, SPA, quoted Al-Jubeir as saying, "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its allies were able to remove this threat and protect the legitimate government of Yemen and the Yemeni people from the hostile Houthi movement which is allied with Iran and Hezbollah.''
He expressed hope that this operation had opened the door to a political settlement so that Yemenis can get together, again reiterating that there is no military solution to the conflict in Yemen and that the solution must be political and based on Security Council resolution 2216, the initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the results of the national dialogue in Yemen.
He said, "We have always expressed the hope that the Houthis would resort to wisdom through participation in the political process instead of resorting to the control of the country with arms. We have already made it clear that we will not allow them to take over Yemen with arms and we are still at this position."
He continued, "We applied this matter today in Taiz where the Houthis pounded Brigade 35 and we intervened militarily to put an end to the bombing and we also followed very troublesome movements by the Houthi militia in the city of Aden across three directions, and we are determined to respond to the request of the legitimate government in providing necessary assistance."
Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir called on the Houthis not to fall under any illusions, and said, "The coalition forces will continue to use force to prevent them from taking over Yemen through hostile acts, and this matter will not change," expressing hope that the Houthis will participate in the political process.
He added, "We heard a statement from the Houthi militia on their acceptance of the political process. But later, we see movements of their troops and use of artillery weapon against Yemen's legitimate government forces and this is not the behaviour or attitude of a group seeking to resolve their disputes with the rest of Yemenis through dialogue and peace."
The Saudi ambassador confirmed that the ambition of the kingdom in Yemen is the nation's stability and the well-being of the Yemenis, pointing out that Operation Renewal of Hope seeks to protect civilians in Yemen, confront any acts of aggression by those militia, facilitate and intensify the flow of humanitarian aid to Yemen and facilitate the work of international aid organisations.
He reiterated the order by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud to allocate an amount of US$274 million for humanitarian relief in Yemen after the United Nations was seeking to collect this amount.
Responding to reporters' questions, the Saudi ambassador said that Operation Determination Storm's goal was to remove threats of ballistic missiles which were in the possession of the extremist Houthi militia which is allied with Iran and Hizbullah, in addition to destroying the centres of command and heavy weapons, slowing their military movements and protecting the legitimate government of Yemen.
He stressed that this goal was achieved and "we are now moving on to the goal of the current phase which is continuing the protection of civilians in Yemen from the control of the Houthi militias and countering any aggressive moves from them, in addition to working to enhance the flow of humanitarian aid and facilitate the work of international relief organisations. So, if the Houthis or their allies carry out any aggressive moves, there will be a response to that."
Regarding the role by Iran in the political process in Yemen, he said, "Iran is not a neighboring country of Yemen, and we see it as part of the problem rather than part of the solution. The financial, logistic, personnel or military equipment support they gave to Houthi was very serious and a destabilising factor in Yemen and we believe that the Houthis could not have done what they did without this support."
Concerning stimulating groups such as the Houthis and the ousted Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to participate in the political process, Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir said that sanctions were levied against Ali Abdullah Saleh by the international community and he played a destructive role in the political process in Yemen and a very negative role in the past years, stressing that he will not have a role in the future of Yemen.
The ambassador said that Iran can help in Yemen by stopping its support for the Houthis, adding that this is not tangible.
In another matter, he referred to a request by the legitimate government of Yemen to assist in the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216 which provided for an arms embargo on the Houthis and their ally, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, stressing that the alliance is ready to apply this provision as ships entering Yemen and coming out of Yemen will be searched to make sure they do not carry smuggled weapons or people out of Yemen.
The ambassador said, "We also search commercial aircraft bound for Yemen to make sure they do not carry any weapons, and this is what we intend to do, welcoming any desire by any state to participate in the inspection of ships and aircraft."
Regarding US support for Operation Determination Storm and Operation Renewal of Hope, Ambassador Al-Jubeir said, "The US support for these operations is very clear. The United States is still working with us in logistical, intelligence and other matters. There is no change in the US position regarding support for the coalition, legitimacy in Yemen, the political process there and finding a way out of the crisis there."
Concerning talks on the political process among Yemenis, the ambassador stressed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is ready to provide all that is needed for the success of these talks, pointing out that the decision to determine the headquarters for the political talks is up to the Yemenis.