By Arab News
March 25 marked one year of the Saudi-led Operation Decisive Storm to restore legitimacy in Yemen.
A massive march was launched on Friday in a number of liberated cities in Yemen located in the east and central parts of the country. People carried huge photos of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and several leaders of the Arab coalition states.
An online campaign, entitled #Thanks_Salman, was also launched to express gratitude to Saudi Arabia for its exceptional leadership in the region.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri said: “One year later Saudi-Yemeni borders are safe and stable and Iran’s effect on the country has dwindled.”
In an Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal on Friday, Saudi Ambassador to US Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki said: “My nation cherishes peace and stability. The anarchy backed by Iran on our doorstep was intolerable.”
He said the action in Yemen was urgently requested by Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi after Iranian-backed Houthi militias occupied most of the country, including Sanaa.
“In 2014 the Houthis, who are a component of Yemen’s population, abandoned peaceful participation in their country’s political discourse. Instead, they opted to exploit the situation in Yemen as the newly elected legitimate government was still finding its footing.”
He added: “Houthi militias, spurred by Iran and backed by forces allied to Yemen’s deposed president, began to take over city after city by force. Yemen’s legitimate government attempted to resolve the crisis through peaceful negotiations. The Houthis repeatedly announced that they would agree to resolve the crisis peacefully, only to renege on their commitments and continue their takeover of the country.”
He explained: “When the capital fell to the Houthis in December 2014, flights between Tehran and Sanaa quadrupled overnight, some of which carried weapons and military advisers to support the Houthis. Pushing farther south in 2015, the Houthis were at the doorstep of the port city of Aden, the last remaining bastion of legitimacy in Yemen, where the government and many embassies had relocated after the takeover of Sanaa. Something had to be done.”
He said Saudi Arabia shared a border with Yemen that stretched for almost 1,000 miles. “The events in Yemen had become a direct threat to Saudi Arabia’s national security. Our neighbor was almost completely controlled by a militia influenced and supported by Iran, an internationally recognized state sponsor of terrorism. This armed militia on the border was in control of ballistic missiles and an air force.”