Saudi and Egyptian warships deployed Friday to the Bab al-Mandab strait off Yemen to secure the strategic sea passage, Egyptian military officials said, as a Saudi-led coalition widened their airstrikes on the second day of an air campaign against Shiite rebels and their allies, aiming to pave the way for possible ground operations.
A top priority for the campaign after the air campaign weakened the rebels is for coalition troops —likely Egyptians — to move into the southern port city of Aden. That’s a main stronghold of supporters of President Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was forced to leave the country as the rebels and their allies moved on Aden, Yemeni and Egyptian military officials said.
On Friday, rebel fighters and their allies — military units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh — were moving through southern Abyan province toward Aden, aiming to reinforce fighters who are already in the city, Yemeni security officials said. At the same time, pro-Hadi military units and militiamen were fighting rebel forces in street battles in several southern cities.
Saudi Arabia and its allies are aiming push back the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, and Saleh’s forces, which have taken over the capital, Sanaa, and much of the mountainous, impoverished nation. The ultimate goal is to restore Hadi, who was expected to arrive in Egypt on Friday for an Arab summit the following day. Saudi Arabia fears the Houthis will give Shiite powerhouse Iran a new foothold on its southern border.
Source: The Associated Press
Roby Barrett of the Middle East Institute discusses situation in Yemen
CCTV America interviewed Roby Barrett of the Middle East Institute about the situation in Yemen.