Geopolitical tensions escalated dramatically over night as Saudi Arabia launched military operations including air strikes in Yemen. The Saudis claim the action is to counter Iran-allied forces besieging the southern city of Aden where the U.S. backed Yemeni president had taken refuge.
Gulf broadcaster al-Arabiya TV reported that the kingdom was contributing as many as 150,000 troops and 100 war planes to the operations. Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and Pakistan were ready to take part in a ground offensive in Yemen, the broadcaster said.
The Saudis seem determined to pull geopolitically strategic Yemen back into its orbit following the coup d’etat in February.
The Syrian state news agency said the Saudi-led military operation is an act of “blatant aggression”.
“Gulf war planes led by the regime of the Saudi family launch a blatant aggression on Yemen,” read their headline. The Syrian government led by President Bashar al Assad is an ally of Iran, which is in turn allied with the Yemeni Houthi rebels who are fighting to oust the country’s U.S. backed president.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have been important sponsors of the insurgency against Assad.
Traditionally Saudi Arabia has kept Yemen under its control through patronage of various tribal factions. This system was disrupted in 2011 when internal social pressures forced the incumbent President Saleh to step down.