Turkey to provide intelligence, logistics to Saudi-led operation in Yemen
Erdoğan received Ottoman-themed gifts during his meeting with tradesmen in Ankara on March 25, 2015. Hürriyet photo
Turkey has stated that it will provide intelligence and logistical support to the Saudi Arabia-led military campaign against Houthis in Yemen, as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held phone conversations with both Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and U.S. President Barack Obama.
“We have told them that we can give all sorts of support including intelligence, but not military support. We will meet with representatives of Gulf countries to listen to their expectations of Turkey and to determine our support,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told private broadcaster NTV in an interview on March 27.
Turkey openly supports the military offensive orchestrated by a number of Arab countries under Saudi Arabian leadership, while it has strongly criticized Iran for stirring up trouble in the Middle East by increasing sectarian influence.
“The final solution for Yemen is a political one. There is no need for a sectarian clash; there is no need for a confrontation between the Gulf and Arab countries, with Iran. Everybody should learn lessons from this. These clashes causing the division of Yemen should be stopped,” Çavuşoğlu said.
He also said Turkey had continued to urge Iran not to pursue a “sectarian policy” and had long stood against sectarian approaches to the region. “There is a de facto situation in Yemen now and Turkey has made its position clear. There is a sectarian conflict and we do not want it,” the foreign minister added.
Early on March 27, Erdoğan held phone conversations with King Salman, according to the Anadolu Agency, which reported that the Saudi king thanked Turkey for its clear support in the operation.
Erdoğan’s conversation with King Salman followed his phone conversation with Obama late March 26, during which the two leaders discussed a number of bilateral and regional issues.
According to Çavuşoğlu, the content of the Obama-Erdoğan conversation was in line with the scope of the two countries’ “model partnership.”
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have presented powerful members of the U.N. Security Council with suggested elements for a resolution that would impose an arms embargo on the Shiite rebels who have allegedly thrown Yemen into turmoil and caused its Western-backed president to flee.
Diplomats said March 26 after a meeting with ambassadors from the United States, Britain and France that members of the Gulf Coordination Council want the resolution to be militarily enforceable under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter.
The GCC members also presented the Security Council president with a letter explaining that their airstrikes targeting military installations held by the Houthi rebels are in response to President Abed Rabbuh Mansour Hadi’s request this week for immediate aid as the rebels closed in.
At least 39 civilians have been killed in more than 24 hours of Saudi-led air strikes against the Houthis in Yemen, Health Ministry officials said March 27.
Twelve of the victims died when a raid against a military base north of the capital Sanaa hit surrounding residential areas, officials from the rebel-controlled ministry told AFP.
At least 21 rebels were killed March 27 when residents in a tribal southern region opened fire at their vehicles, a local official and witnesses told AFP.
The rebels were traveling in three vehicles from Lahj province toward Aden, the southern stronghold of Hadi, when they were ambushed.
The attack took place just 15 kilometers north of Aden, where tensions were high on March 27 as the rebels clashed with the “popular committees” – an anti-Houthi militia controlling parts of the city – security officials and residents said.
Oil prices fell March 27 after spiking the previous day as Saudi Arabian jets struck rebel targets in Yemen, sparking supply fears in the crude-rich Middle East.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in May sank 63 cents to $58.56 a barrel in London midday deals.
U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for May slid 81 cents to $50.62 a barrel.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said March 27 that Saudi Arabia felt it necessary to intervene in Yemen to avoid an Iranian-backed regime taking over the country along its southern border.
“The Saudis are very exercised by the idea of an Iranian-backed regime in Yemen,” he told reporters during a visit to Washington. “They cannot accept the idea of an Iranian-backed regime in control of Yemen, which is why they felt compelled to intervene the way they have. We know there has been Iranian support for the Houthi and we are all concerned to avoid this becoming a proxy war,” he added.
In a boost for Riyadh, fellow monarchy Morocco said it would join the rapidly assembled Sunni Muslim coalition against the Shiite Muslim group.