Turkey and Pakistan pledge ‘all potential support’ to Saudis over Yemen

Turkey and Pakistan pledge ‘all potential support’ to Saudis over Yemen

Turkey and Pakistan pledge ‘all potential support’ to Saudis over Yemen

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, left, and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoğlu shake hands after a joint news conference in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, April 3, 2015. AP PHoto

Turkey and Pakistan have called on “all Yemeni groups” for a peaceful solution to the country’s crisis, while pledging support for Saudi Arabia’s actions, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on April 3.

Turkey and Pakistan agreed to lend “all potential support” to Saudi Arabia in order to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yemen, Sharif said, speaking at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

The two countries would work together to help resolve the crisis in Yemen, Sharif said, stressing a “common understanding” between Turkey and Pakistan to “stand behind Saudi leadership.”

For his part, Davutoğlu underlined that Turkey’s position on Yemen is to support all “steps taken for the constitutional reconstruction” of the country.

He noted that Pakistan and Turkey draw a common understanding at a time when the region is passing through an “historical transformation and is facing enormous risks.”

Violence in Yemen has killed an estimated 519 people over the past two weeks, 90 of them children, while tens of thousands of people are fleeing their homes, the U.N.’s humanitarian chief said on April 2, amid the rapid escalation of the conflict in the Arab world’s poorest nation.

Al-Qaeda militants traveling in convoys flying black banners captured a major port city in southern Yemen on April 2, seizing government buildings and freeing inmates from a prison, including a top Saudi-born leader, security officials said, The Associated Press reported.

The fall of Mukalla - the capital of Yemen’s largest province, Hadramawt - highlighted how al-Qaeda is expanding its foothold in Yemen, taking advantage of the turmoil as a Saudi-led coalition backing the country’s beleaguered president tries to fend off a takeover by Shiite rebels.

Yemeni Houthi fighters and their allies seized a central Aden district on April 2, striking a heavy blow against the Saudi-led coalition that has waged a week of air strikes to try to stem advances by the Iran-allied Shiite group.

Hours after the Houthis took over Aden’s central Crater neighborhood, they marked another symbolic victory by fighting their way into a presidential residence overlooking the neighborhood, residents said.

The southern city has been the last major holdout of fighters loyal to Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled Aden a week ago and has watched from Riyadh as the vestiges of his authority have crumbled.

The Houthis, who took over the capital Sanaa six months ago in alliance with supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, turned on Aden last month.

A diplomat in Riyadh said the city had come to symbolize Hadi’s fading authority, meaning that Saudi Arabia could not afford to allow it to fall completely under Houthi control.