By Brett Gillin
Saudi Arabia continues to increase their military presence in support of Yemen, with the latest reports showing 150,000 troops mobilizing in support of the ongoing airstrikes. A Saudi Arabian-led coalition has been taking drastic actions over the last few days against Iran-linked Shia Houthi rebels, who have been capturing wide swaths of Yemen territory. While officials caution that an escalation of conflict between the Shia power Iran and the Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia could disrupt global oil supplies and devolve into a much larger conflict, Saudi Arabia is getting wide support for their actions.
Saudi jets and missile batteries have been targeting Houthi strongholds in the Yemen capital of Sanna all week, according to this report from the BBC. Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States, recently told reporters that the airstrikes were only the beginning of their actions to help Yemen.
“We will do whatever it takes in order to protect the legitimate government of Yemen from falling,” al-Jubeir told reporters on Wednesday.
According to Reuters, earlier this week, Saudi Arabia began moving heavy military equipment, including artillery batteries, close to their border with Yemen. Although U.S. government sources originally believed that they could be mobilized for either offensive or defensive purposes, the mobilization of 150,000 troops may hint that offensive purposes are more likely.
“The Saudis are just really deeply concerned about what they see as an Iranian stronghold in a failed state across their border,” Matthew Tueller, the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, told Reuters earlier this week.
NBC News reports that along with the 150,000 troops, Saudi Arabia has also added 100 fighter jets to their forces in this conflict. The coalition forces from nations including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Qatar, have added an additional 115 fighter planes to the conflict as well.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken highly of the work that the coalition has been doing to defend Yemen. The Daily Star reports that the United States has also added their support to the cause. Although there haven’t been major troops or artillery added by the U.S., a source is quoted as telling reporters that Washington’s support includes “intelligence sharing, targeting assistance, and advisory and logistical support for strikes against Houthi targets.”
Egyptian military officials have also told reporters with the AP that they will support the strikes against Houthi targets with ground support once the airstrikes have sufficiently weakened the rebel forces. This week, Saudi Arabian airstrikes have reportedly hit key military installations throughout the Yemen capital, including an air base, anti-aircraft positions, and multiple military bases.