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The Muslim World

Yemeni Crisis takes ugly turn

Yemen had been facing instability and internal trouble for quite some time. But the appearance of the Houthi rebels and their successes against the state forces during the past few months which put the elected president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi on the run, has changed the entire scenario. The Tehran aided rebel s, though representing a minority group in the country, soon occupied the capital Sana’a and other governorates right up to the borders with Saudi Arabia which left the latter with no option but to send its air force into action to secure its borders and contain the Houthis. The resulting imbroglio has forced a difficult choice on Pakistan. With its traditionally friendly relations with Saudi Arabia and the nation’s unwritten but bounden commitment to defend the holy places of Islam, there is a pressure on the government to stand by Saudi Arabia and even commit forces to guard the holy sites. But on the other hand, the ongoing war against terrorists as well as pressure of the sectarian groups favoring Iran, forbid Pakistan’s entry into any war with the Yemeni rebels. Nevertheless, the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has declared that although Pakistan had not yet sent any soldier to Saudi Arabia in wake of the latest crisis, “the Pakistan army will foil any bid endangering the soil of Saudi Arabia.” A government spokesman also said that no specific request had yet been received from Saudia Arabia” although they have expectations from Pakistan. “ A very significant development following the Yemeni crisis has been the Arab leaders’ decision to form a joint Arab military force to intervene in such crises facing the Arab countries. The decision aims mainly to fight terrorists who have overrun swathes of territories of Iraq and Syria and gained a foothold in Libya, according to the Arab League chief Nabil Al Arabi. Meanwhile, till the time of writing this note the Saudi- led Operation Decisive Storm was continuing, bombing the Houthi rebels in Yemen with success. The coalition which includes UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Sudan and Morocco, was formed after negotiations with the Houthis to reach an amicable settlement on all national and local differences in Yemen had failed. Indications are that the operation would continue till the Houthis agree to come to terms. Another possibility at achieving a negotiated solution of the conflict has been hinted by the government of Pakistan which has suggested calling upon the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to play a role in the matter. A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said ‘ to facilitate early resolution of the crisis and unity of the Muslim Ummah , the Prime Minister (Nawaz Sharif ) will be contacting the leadership of brotherly countries”. At the same time a defence delegation of Pakistan was due to visit Saudi Arabia ‘for assessing the kingdom’s requirements in the fight against Houthi rebels.