Turkey evacuates 55 citizens from Yemen

Turkey evacuates 55 citizens from Yemen

Turkey evacuates 55 citizens from Yemen

AA Photo

Turkey evacuated 55 of its nationals from the Yemeni city of Aden on April 3 with a military boat amid fighting and a bombing campaign from regional Sunni powers, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said.

The boat will take the Turkish nationals to Djibouti, where they will take a Turkish Airlines (THY) flight to return home, Çavuşoğlu wrote on his Twitter account.

“The evacuation of our 55 citizens from Aden was completed by the Büyükada Frigate which was in the region performing its tasks. Our citizens will first be transferred to Djibouti and then will be sent to Turkey by Turkish Airlines,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a subsequent statement.

The evacuation in Yemen was planned for April 2, but a dawn strike on the region staged by Saudi-led warplanes delayed the operation.

Turkey still has some 200 citizens in Yemen, mostly in Sanaa, and efforts for their evacuation will continue.

Turkey had issued four travel warnings for Yemen since the tension in the country increased, and some 200 nationals earlier left the country, but the rest insisted on staying.

Turkish officials also said their support for a Saudi-led military operation in Yemen is “important in terms of morale” but that it would not make any further contributions at the moment, a Foreign Ministry official told the Hürriyet Daily News, adding that the country had not been requested for anything else yet.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier said Turkey was ready to provide intelligence and logistics support to the military operation in Yemen.

“Turkey, as a country that played role in Yemen’s history and with established links, supports this military operation aiming to stand with the correct side,” said the official, stressing that the Houthis had “derailed and hijacked the political process” in the country.

“This regional decision [for a military operation] was taken after warnings were made to the Houthis for the sake of the political process, but they neglected these warnings and continued their militia operations on the ground,” said the official.

“Turkey regards this operation as an effort to put the political process on the right track again,” said the ministry official.

‘Houthis are not against Turkey’

Turkish officials have nonetheless been in contact with all groups in Yemen, according to the official. Even the Turkish ambassador in Yemen asked Houthi leaders for support during the evacuation of the Turkish mission in the country, the official said, underlining that the “Houthis were not against Turkey.”

The official categorically denied claims that Turkey has part of a Sunni axis in Yemen and stressed that Ankara’s position was not “sectarian” despite being directed against the Houthis, who are Shiite.
The military operation was “not because the Houthis are pro-Iranian,” said the official.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had accused Iran on March 26 of “trying to dominate the Middle East” and said its efforts had begun to annoy Ankara, as well as Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arab countries. 

He said the conflict had evolved into a sectarian one and urged Iran to withdraw. “Iran has to change its view. It has to withdraw any forces, whatever it has in Yemen, as well as Syria and Iraq and respect their territorial integrity,” he said.