Saudi vows to respond to aggression from Yemeni rebels

Washington: Saudi Arabia will respond if rebels in Yemen carry out any “aggressive moves,” the Saudi ambassador to the United States warned Wednesday, a day after the Gulf kingdom declared an end to its month-long air campaign.

“If the Huthis or their allies make any aggressive moves there will be a response,” ambassador Adel al-Jubeir told reporters. “The decision to calm matters now rests entirely with them.”

But he warned: “The Huthis should be under no illusion that we will use force in order to stop them taking over Yemen by aggressive actions. So that will not change.”

After Operation Decisive Storm, Jubeir said Saudi Arabia was moving to a second phase in the campaign called Operation Renewal of Hope, and it was hoped that the Huthis would come to negotiations.

Riyadh was seeking a political dialogue between all Yemeni parties in the hope it would lead to elections and the implementation of a new constitution.

“We have always said that there is no military solution to the conflict in Yemen. That the solution has to be a political one,” Jubeir told reporters at the Saudi embassy in Washington.

Now “the objective is to focus on the political process, on the humanitarian process while at the same time seeking to protect the Yemeni population from Huthi aggression, and to counter any aggressive moves that the Huthis are conducting.”

The ambassador said there were some “disturbing” movements by the rebels in the southern port city of Aden, where there were skirmishes and Huthi troops moving into the city from three directions who could enter “within hours.”

Riyadh would respond to a request from “the legitimate government of Yemen to prevent this happening.”

A coalition of Arab nations led by Riyadh launched airstrikes last month in a bid to restore the authority of exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled to the Saudi capital as the rebels advanced on Aden.

The Saudi ambassador also called for an enhanced inspections regime to prevent weapons flowing to the rebels by air and sea, and hoped to set up some kind of international monitoring cooperation.

“We destroyed their air force, we destroyed their ballistic missiles as far as we know, we destroyed their command and control, we destroyed much if not most of their heavy equipment… so we´ve degraded their capabilities substantially,” Jubeir said.