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Egypt warships head to Gulf of Aden; Sudan to take part in Operation Storm of Resolve

Storm of Resolve: Egyptian warships en route to secure Gulf of Aden; Sudan to take part with air, ground forces

  • People search for survivors under the rubble of houses destroyed by an air strike near Sanaa Airport March 26,Image Credit: REUTERS
  • A armed Yemeni man stands above debris at the site hit by a Saudi air strike against Al Houthi rebels near SanImage Credit: AFP
  • A Houthi fighter walks at the site of an air strike at a residential area near Sanaa Airport March 26, 2015. Image Credit: Reuters
  • A picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on March 26, 2015 shows Saudi Defence Minister Mohammed binImage Credit: AFP
  • Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the US Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir announces that Saudi Arabia is conducting militaryImage Credit: AFP
  • Rebels known as Al Houthis are advancing on Aden, Yemen, as Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled the Image Credit: AP
  • People uncover the body of a man from under the rubble of a house destroyed by an air strike near Sanaa AirporImage Credit: REUTERS

At approximately 3.40am UAE-time on Thursday March 26, the UAE ambassador in Washington, DC announced the start of Operation Storm of Resolve to confront the Al Houthi coup in Yemen in response to the call for military intervention by the country’s embattled president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Below are live updates of subsequent events:

8.21pm: Putin calls for immediate ceasefire in Yemen, during talks with Iranian president.

7.53pm: Saudi Arabia plans to beef up security at its borders and around oil and industrial facilities, state news agency SPA reported on Thursday, citing a statement by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef.

Prince Mohammad, who is also the interior minister, had stressed "strengthening all security measures on the borders of the kingdom and in all public utilities and around the oil and industrial facilities", at a meeting to review security developments in Yemen, SPA said.

7.46: Hadi leaves Aden under Saudi protection to attend Arab Summit in Egypt.

7.12pm: Egyptian security and military officials say Saudi Arabia and Egypt will lead a ground operation in Yemen against Al Houthi rebels and their allies after a campaign of airstrikes to weaken them.

Three senior officials tell The Associated Press that forces would enter by land from Saudi Arabia and by sea from the Red Sea and Arabian Sea. They said Thursday that other nations will also be involved.

They would not specify troop numbers or say when the operation would start, only that it would be after air strikes weaken the rebels and allied forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

6.03pm: EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned of regional risks from fighting in Yemen and said there could be no military solution, after Saudi warplanes bombed Al Houthi rebels and sparked Iranian warnings.

"The latest events in Yemen have dramatically worsened the already fragile situation in the country and risk having serious regional consequences," Mogherini, the former Italian foreign minister, said in a statement.

"I'm convinced that military action is not a solution," Mogherini said.

The advance of Al  Houthi rebels and air strikes on President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi's compound in Aden were "unacceptable steps towards escalating an already polarised situation," she said, adding that they had "triggered today's Saudi-led airstrikes."

5.31pm: Arab League chief Nabil Al Arabi declared his full support on Thursday for Saudi-led air strikes against Al  Houthi rebels in Yemen.

"I affirm complete support" for the campaign, he said at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers. "It is an operation against targets belonging to Al Houthis who committed a coup."

The ministers were meeting to prepare for an Arab summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm Al Shaikh over the weekend that will consider forming a joint Arab military force.

5.29pm: Iraq's foreign minister opposed Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen, saying military intervention was not a solution.

Ebrahim Al Jaafari,  said he supported a "peaceful" approach to Yemen. "We are not with the strikes, and we are against foreign intervention," he told AFP ahead of an Arab foreign ministers' meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm Al Shaikh.

"I don't think military solutions can be the start of a resolution. We support peaceful solutions," he said.

3.25pm: Four Egyptian warships enter Suez Canal heading to Yemen to secure Gulf of Aden. Sudan minister says Khartoum to take part with air and ground forces. 

2.57pm: Egypt participates in Saudi-led campaign in Yemen against Houthis with naval and air forces: military sources.

2.51pm: Turkey says it supports Saudi-led military operation in Yemen. Turkey also calls on Al Houthi movement and their 'foreign supporters' to abandon acts which threaten peace and security in region.

2.41pm: Senior scholars in Saudi Arabia say the decision of the Kingdom, Arab Gulf states and other participating countries, to launch the operation Storm of Resolve in Yemen, aims to protect the legitimate government and defend the Yemeni people from Al Houthi militias. A statement issue by the General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars described the decision as "fit and wise", supported by the higher interests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, the Arab region and the Islamic world, which have interest in Yemen's stability and unity and interest in the security of Saudi Arabia.

2.25pm: Britain says it supports Saudi military intervention in Yemen but says, ultimately, the solution must be a political one. It adds that recent Al Houthi actions and expansion in Yemen 'a further signal of their disregard for the political process'.

2.19pm: Warplanes hit Houthi fighters in their home province of Saada near Saudi Arabian border, tribal sources tell Reuters.

2.19pm: UAE telecom operator Etisalat halts broadcast of Yemen TV, which is part of its e-Vision package. The decision was made due to the channel airing anti-Hadi programmes.

1.26pm: UAE's response to Yemen events: The UAE considers intervention in Yemen a necessity considering the military threat posed on the GCC states with Al Houthi group's takeover of large parts of the country, Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs has said. “Strategic change in the region is occurring in the interests of Iran, which is being fulfilled by Al Houthis, and it cannot be ignored. The encroachment of Al Houthis has exhausted all political options,” he wrote on Twitter.




1.15pm: The Saudi aviation authority suspends international and domestic flights at seven airports, south of country.

1.13pm: Russia urges parties to Yemen conflict to stop armed clashes, start dialogue, reports Interfax. Moscow says no plans to evacuate Russians from Yemen, including Russian embassy employees.

12.37pm: Yemeni president Hadi has arrived in Oman, reports Sky News. 

12.36pmIran demands immediate halt to military actions in Yemen. The Iranian Foreign Ministry has demanded an immediate halt to all military "aggressions" in Yemen and warned that it might further complicate the crisis, the semi-official Fars news agency reports.

"Iran wants an immediate halt to all military aggressions and air strikes against Yemen and its people ... Military actions in Yemen, which faces a domestic crisis ... will further complicate the situation ... and will hinder efforts to resolve the crisis through peaceful ways," Fars quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as saying.

12.27pm: Iranian foreign ministry condemns Gulf military action on Yemen.

11.58am: China's foreign ministry says it is deeply concerned about the worsening situation in Yemen. Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that China urges all parties to act in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions on Yemen, and to resolve the dispute through dialogue.

Hua told a news conference that China hopes all parties involved will "quickly resolve the dispute through political dialogue, solve the current crisis and restore domestic stability and normality to Yemen at an early date." She said that all Chinese people and institutions in Yemen were safe, adding that the foreign ministry and the Chinese embassy in Yemen had warned its citizens not to visit Yemen.

11.52am: Saudi Arabia says that the first air strike on the Houthis' strongholds in Yemen has fully destroyed all Houthi air defences, Al Dailami base, surface-to-air (SAM) missiles batteries and four warplanes, without any losses in the Saudi Air Force.

11.49amEgypt announces its political and military support for the steps taken by the coalition in support of the legitimate government in Yemen. A statement from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry says that Egypt's support for this move comes in response to the coalition's request, emanating from its historical responsibilities towards Arab national security and the security of the Arab Gulf region.

11.21am: The UAE is sending 30 warplanes to join the operation, along with 15 each from Bahrain and Kuwait, 10 from Qatar, six each from Jordan and Morocco and three from Sudan.

11.19am: Saudi Arabia is contributing as many as 150,000 troops and 100 warplanes to the operations. Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and Pakistan are ready to take part in a ground offensive, Al Arabiya says.

11.08am: Al Houthis can defend Yemen without Iran help, says official. Yemen's Al Houthis are prepared to confront a Saudi-led campaign of air strikes launched on Thursday without calling for help from their ally Iran, an Al Houthi official told Reuters. Asked if there had been any communications with Iran since the start of the attacks, or if Al Houthis would seek military help from Tehran, Al Houthi politburo official Mohammad Al Bukhaiti said: "No. The Yemeni people are prepared to face this aggression without any foreign interference."

11.05am: Jordan confirms it will join Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.

10.45am: Yemen pro-government forces retake Aden airport. In Aden, forces loyal to Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi recaptured the international airport in his southern power base Aden early on Thursday, a security official said.
Troops of the 39th Armoured Brigade, who are allied to the Al Houthi militia which controls the capital Sanaa, pulled out of the airport just a day after seizing it, the official said.

10.31am: Security officials in Yemen say Saudi airstrikes are targeting military installations held by rebels who swept into the country's south and drove the president to flee by sea. News footage of the military offensive that kicked off Thursday, aired by Saudi-owned Al-Hadath TV, showed flashing lights and what sounded like machine gun fire. Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya News reported that the kingdom has deployed 100 fighter jets, 150,000 soldiers and other navy units.
Saudi Arabia announced it was leading a military offensive in Yemen after the rebels known as Houthis moved on Yemeni President President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's last refuge in the southern city of Aden. The Houthis captured the city's airport and put a bounty on Hadi's head.

9.45am: US President Barack Obama authorises US logistical, intelligence support for GCC countries in "Storm of Resolve" (Al Hazm) military operation launched in Yemen, according to the White House. Ten countries, including five GCC countries, have joined the Saudi-led coalition that launched air strikes against Al Houthi rebels.


By the numbers: Operation Storm of Resolve

Operation Storm of Resolve against the Al Houthi militia that has taken over large parts of Yemen involves one of the largest joint Arab mobilisation forces since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. All Gulf states with the exception of Oman are involved, as well as major Arab and non-Arab, Muslim countries, to confront the Iran-backed militia. Here are some figures illustrating the magnitude of the operation:

10 - Number of countries participating in Operation Storm of Resolve. They are: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar. Kuwait, Sudan, Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco and Jordan

185 - Total number of aircraft involved

100 - Fighter jets deployed by Saudi Arabia

30 - Number of UAE warplanes participating

15 - Number of Bahraini warplanes participating

150,000 - Soldiers and navy units mobilised by Saudi Arabia

7 - The number of southern Saudi airports in which flight operations have been halted

6.6% - Jump in oil price, to $52.48 a barrel in New York, the highest since February 18.