Saudi Ambassador Comments on Military Action in Yemen
Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir appeared on CBS Face the Nation and NBC Meet the Press today, where he was asked about the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen as well as Iran nuclear talks.
Speaking with Bob Schieffer on CBS Face the Nation, Ambassador Al-Jubeir took issue with references to the intervention in Yemen as a “proxy war” between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran. He described it as “a war of necessity” after the Houthis violated 67 agreements.
Al-Jubeir also differentiated between the Arab coalition confronting the Houthis and the Arab force that will be created by the Arab League. The Saudi ambassador explained, “The use of force in Yemen is to defend the legitimate government and protect the people of Yemen. We have a coalition of over ten countries that are participating in those operations.
“…The Arab League agreed to the creation of a force that would be similar to a rapid deployment force. The purpose of this force would be to go after extremists, go after terrorists, to support countries that may not have the ability to do the job on their own.
“…We have sufficient forces in the current coalition, if need be, to go into Yemen. But, right now, the objective is being achieved through an air campaign.”
Appearing on NBC Meet the Press, Al-Jubeir was asked to tackle the aforementioned issues as well as the Saudi relationship with the US and Saudi-Iranian tensions.
When asked whether the CENTCOM commander’s testimony that he only knew of the Saudi intervention in Yemen an hour in advance was indicative of a deteriorating Saudi relationship with the US, as has been propagated by some, Al-Jubeir’s response was to the contrary, i.e. the depth of the relationship between the two countries is very strong. He noted that possible options for the use of military force in Yemen had been discussed with the US for many months, and became much more serious over the past couple of weeks. Al-Jubeir acknowledged that the final decision was made at the last minute.
Asked whether a strong Iran and a strong Saudi Arabia can coexist, Al-Jubeir pointed out that the Kingdom has extended the hand of friendship to Iran for the past 35 years, only to be rebuffed by the Iranian side. He further pointed out that during this period, the Iranians have undertaken many instances of aggression against the Saudis, whereas there have been no instances of the Saudis mounting acts of aggression against Iran. Nevertheless, the Saudis would welcome friendly relations with Iran for the good of the region.