Saudi Arabia began a bombing campaign against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, the country’s ambassador to the United States confirmed Wednesday.
Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir confirmed the Saudi airstikes began at 7 p.m. Eastern time against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, whose official slogan is “Death to Israel. Death to America.” The Shiite group seized control of the capital and forced the resignation of U.S.- and Saudi-backed former President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
It was a stunningly embarrassing development the White House struggled to explain, which came less than one year after President Obama cited the Arab world’s poorest country as the model for how he and his administration plan “to degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State (ISIS).
Ambassador al-Jubeir, who made the announcement at a rare news conference by the Sunni Kingdom, said the Houthis “have always chosen the path of violence,” but declined to say whether the Saudi campaign involved U.S. intelligence assistance.
He said the kingdom of Saudi Arabia “will do anything necessary” to protect the people of Yemen and “the legitimate government of Yemen.”
The loss of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, an important and key ally in the war on terror, was a serious blow to American counterterrorism efforts in the region. The U.S. presence and anti-terror capabilities have continued to disintegrate since the administration was forced to announce the hasty and incompetent evacuation of the embassy.
In a Feb. exclusive, sources told PPD President Obama and top State Department officials never believed they would have to evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Yemen. Sources at the State Department tell PPD that Obama administration officials believed they had successfully negotiated a deal with the Houthi rebels through Iran to keep the U.S. Embassy open in Sanaa.