US speeds weapons to aid Saudi-led Ye­men cam­paign

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY AHMED AL-HAJ AND BRIAN ROHAN

The United States is speed­ing up weapons de­liv­er­ies to the Saudi- led coali­tion launch­ing airstrikes against rebels in Ye­men, as the first boat car­ry­ing med­i­cal aid to the coun­try since the start of the air cam­paign ar­rived Wed­nes­day at the south­ern port city of Aden, where heavy clashes were un­der­way.

Speak­ing a day ear­lier in the Saudi cap­i­tal, Riyadh, Deputy Sec­re­tary of State Antony Blinken blamed the vi­o­lence in Ye­men on the Shi­ite rebels, known as Houthis, and forces loyal to for­mer Pres­i­dent Ali Ab­dul­lah Saleh, say­ing that the U.S. is com­mit­ted to de­fend­ing Saudi Ara­bia.

In­tel­li­gence shar­ing in­cludes mak­ing avail­able raw aerial im­agery the coali­tion could use to bet­ter strike anti- Hadi forces, said a U. S. de­fense of­fi­cial who was not au­tho­rized to com­ment pub­licly. Blinken said the U. S. and the six- na­tion Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil must co­or­di­nate closely and press all par­ties to seek a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion.

The fight­ing in Ye­men pits Hadi and his al­lies against the Houthis and mil­i­tary units loyal to Saleh. Shi­ite pow­er­house Iran sup­ports the Houthis but de­nies arm­ing them.

The U. S. says that the chaos has al­lowed the lo­cal al- Qaida branch, which it con­sid­ers the world’s most danger­ous wing of the group, to make “great gains” on the ground, caus­ing Wash­ing­ton to re­think how it pre­vents it from launch­ing at­tacks in the West.

Speak­ing from Tokyo, De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash Carter said the col­lapse of the cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Ye­men makes it harder to con­duct coun­tert­er­ror­ism op­er­a­tions against al- Qaida, which has am­bi­tions to strike West­ern tar­gets, in­clud­ing the United States. Re­gard­ing the weapons de­liv­er­ies, he said it in­volved “some re­sup­ply of equip­ment and mu­ni­tions” to Saudi Ara­bia.

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion warned Tues­day of an un­fold­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis, say­ing at least 560 peo­ple, in­clud­ing dozens of chil­dren, have been killed, mostly in the air cam­paign and ground bat­tles. The aid group said that more than 1,700 peo­ple have been wounded and an­other 100,000 have fled their homes as fight­ing has in­ten­si­fied over the past three weeks.

The first boat car­ry­ing med­i­cal aid to Ye­men since the coali­tion be­gan bomb­ing ar­rived in Aden on Wed­nes­day, in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian or­ga­ni­za­tion Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders said.

The group’s head of mission in Ye­men, Marie- Elis­a­beth In­gres, said the ship car­ried some 2.5 tons of sup­plies from Dji­bouti for its hos­pi­tal in Aden.

Also Wed­nes­day, Hu­man Rights Watch cited wit­nesses as say­ing that Houthi forces fired into crowds of demon­stra­tors in the cities of Taiz and Torba the day be­fore the bomb­ing cam­paign be­gan, killing at least 7 peo­ple and wound­ing over 80 oth­ers. The New York- based group called on Houthi au­thor­i­ties to in­ves­ti­gate the in­ci­dents.

AFP

Ye­meni fighters op­pos­ing the Huthi rebels shout slo­gans as they walk in the south­ern Ye­meni city of Aden on Wed­nes­day, April 8.

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