Monday, April 13, 2015

United States Expands Role in Yemen

Via Council on Foreign Relations 
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The United States boosted its intelligence sharing (National) with Saudi Arabia, including providing information on military targets. The Saudi-led Gulf coalition air campaign against the Shia Houthi rebels has not prevented their advances in much of Yemen. At least 648 civilians have been killed (WSJ) in the two weeks since foreign intervention began, according to UN officials. Separately, Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, exiled in Saudi Arabia, named (AP) former Prime Minister Khaled Bahah as the country's new vice president, a move that is seen as an attempt to strengthen the embattled executive branch. The Houthis have called for the formation of a presidential council.  Meanwhile, tribal forces in Shabwa province took fifteen Houthi fighters hostage (Al Arabiya) on Sunday.
"Washington undoubtedly hopes to offer just enough support to placate its traditional allies while settling the deal with Iran. That will be a difficult balancing act to maintain, for the Saudis can always up the stakes. The United States cannot simply turn away from the Saudis, but the wisest path forward is to move as quickly as possible to a final agreement with Iran," writes Paul W. Kahn in Al Jazeera America.
"If the Houthis are not stopped, they are destined to become the next Hezbollah, deployed by Iran to threaten the people in the region and beyond. The oil shipments through the Red Sea that much of the world depends on will be in jeopardy, and Al Qaeda and other radical groups will be allowed to flourish," argues Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi in the New York Times.
"Saudi interests in Yemen should not replace those of the United States. With this in mind, the Obama administration should work to find an immediate political solution to the conflict, one that can be embraced by the various Yemeni factions," writes Ali AlAhmed at CNN.