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Fri 10 Apr 2015 06:52 PM

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Pakistan declines Saudi call for armed support in Yemen fight

Pakistan's parliament votes not to join the Saudi-led military intervention against Houthi rebels in Yemen

Pakistan declines Saudi call for armed support in Yemen fight
(AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

Pakistan's parliament voted on Friday not to join the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, dashing Riyadh's hopes for powerful support from outside of the region in its fight to halt Iranian-allied Houthi rebels.

Saudi Arabia had asked fellow Sunni-majority Pakistan to provide ships, aircraft and troops for the campaign, now in its third week, to stem the influence of Shi'ite Iran in what appears to be proxy war between the Gulf's two dominant powers.

While Saudi Arabia has the support of its Sunni Gulf Arab neighbours, Pakistan's parliament voted against becoming militarily involved.

It adopted a draft resolution calling on all sides to resolve their differences peacefully in a "deteriorating security and humanitarian situation" which has "implications for peace and stability of the region."

"(Parliament) desires that Pakistan should maintain neutrality in the Yemen conflict so as to be able to play a proactive diplomatic role to end the crisis," it said.

At the same time, it expressed "unequivocal support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" and promised to "stand shoulder to shoulder with Saudi Arabia and its people" if Saudi territory were violated.

Pakistan's government has yet to comment publicly on the draft but has said it would comply with parliament's decision.

The Saudi-led coalition began air strikes in Yemen against the Houthis on March 26 after the rebels, who already control the capital, began a rapid advance towards the southern port city of Aden.

Saudi Arabia is concerned that the violence could spill over the border it shares with Yemen, and is also worried about the influence of Iran, which has denied Saudi allegations it has provided direct military support to the Houthis.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called the Saudi's involvement in Yemen "genocide".

Coalition air strikes hit Yemen for a sixteenth straight day. In Sanaa, they targeted weapons storage sites used by soldiers loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a powerful supporter of the Houthis.

The air raids, which hit the Defence Ministry and other facilities, lasted for hours, residents told Reuters. "The sky was lit up," said Fadel Muhammad. "We heard big explosions."

Saleh is still influential in the military, despite giving up power in 2012 after mass protests against his rule, complicating efforts to stabilise the country.

Troops loyal to him are backing Houthi forces fighting his successor President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a former general seen by the Houthis as a pawn of Sunni Gulf Arab monarchies and the West. Hadi has fled to Saudi Arabia.

Yemen's 150,000 barrel-per-day Aden refinery has shut as the conflict worsened, industry sources said. The refinery earlier suspended its tender process for importing oil products, due to the crisis and several tankers headed to the country have been diverted away.

Aden residents said electricity and water had been cut off in several districts, rubbish had been left uncollected and hospitals were unable to cope with the number of wounded.

A car bomb detonated outside a security building used by Houthi militiamen in central Yemen, killing at least seven people and wounding dozens, residents and a local official said.

The city of Bayhan in Shabwa province has witnessed heavy fighting between the Houthi fighters and local militiamen who have been supported by days of Saudi-led air strikes.

"The humanitarian situation in Aden is catastrophic and disastrous, both in terms of the rising number of killed and injured as well as in declining capabilities of medics, along with shortages in water and electricity," local health ministry official Al-Khadr Lawsar said.

"We call on fighters to adhere to international law and respect the work of ambulances and medical staff in the field," he added, citing the fatal shooting of two brothers working for the Red Crescent while evacuating wounded last week.

Aden residents reported heavy explosions from coalition air strikes and naval bombardment on Houthi positions which shook windows throughout the city.

An Indian ship captain working in Aden was killed in shelling on the city's dockyard overnight, his company announced, and local media reported that Houthi and allied army units had fired mortars into the area.

An air strike hit a local government compound in the northern suburb of Dar Saad and fires in Aden's outskirts sent plumes of smoke into the air.

Two planes carrying emergency medical aid landed in Sanaa on Friday, the first deliveries from international aid groups since the heavy fighting began.

They were brought in by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, which had been trying for days to get aid flights into the country. 

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Faisal 5 years ago

Saudi has always given to countries considered loyal with no return. This war demonstrates where loyalties truly lay.

Simon 5 years ago

Or, Faisal, this demonstrates a level geopolitical understanding and an insight on Pakidtsans part, what the real underlying agenda is of Saudi Arabia and its 'allies'. Looking at things in these times as 'black & white' and merely on face value is tremendously dangerous for the region and its people.

Yemen is by no means a clear cut/black&white reasoning for War. Broaden your scope and you might see past the warring propaganda.

Critic 5 years ago

Loyalty is of no good on the expense of National interest.

360 Degree View 5 years ago

Considering the long border Pakistan shares with Iran & its trading activities with them, it is a wise decision from the Pakistan Government to stay neutral on this war.

Pakistan stance is clear stating that if the rebels plan to invade the Saudi border it will then engage in this war to protect KSA. It is highly unlikely that Al Houthi's will ever penetrate the border (unless supported externally by Iran)

Simon job 5 years ago

Saudi Arabia has a "declared" national population of 20 million.
One third of these are employed in the military- interior police.
It has the largest army in the GCC.
It is the worlds largest importer of arms.

Why does it need assistance from pakistan to fight a bunch of rebels?

Santosh Kumar 5 years ago

Why are people so surprised? Pakistanis do not believe in the old proverbs 'a friend in need is a friend indeed' and 'respect is earned, honesty is appreciated, trust is gained, loyalty is returned' and they proved it earlier by NOT supporting Dubai Expo 2020 bid. Some food for thought I say.

umair brohi 5 years ago

Pakistan had earlier voted for turkey on the request of turkey govt long before UAE approached them for the expo2020 vote. explore the basic details first before commenting.

cliff 5 years ago

I'd agree with Simon.

At the risk of sounding too cynical it sounds to me like they are looking for Pakistan to put the boots on the ground and do the gritty higher-risk fighting.
It's one thing to go to war thousands of feet in the air in an F-16 where combat means pushing a button and releasing a missile. It's quite another fighting in urban combat.

I'm not saying the Saudi troops aren't capable, but it becomes a lot more of a political football when your nations son's start coming home in body bags.

Adnan 5 years ago

@Santosh Kumar: Pakistan had promised Turkey to support it's Expo 2020 bid even before Dubai announced it's bid, should Pakistan have backed out of the promise with Turkey ? Pakistan conveyed it's stance at every official level to the UAE on the Expo 2020 bid and the officials understood, it's only a few non-official third parties who want to spread hate.
As for this current war, Pakistan cannot invade another country when it's not in it's interest after all we also have a 1000 km border with Iran.

Ahmed Zaj 5 years ago

1. This is not Pakistan's war
2. Pakistan stated it will intervene if Saudi borders are crossed
3. Pakistan has advised for Peaceful Reconciliation
4. Turkey sought Pakistan's Vote on Expo2020 way before UAE approached
5. Pakistan has always supported Middle East Countries be it Training for the Armed Forces, supporting Emirates Airlines for Start Up, etc.

These are a few points to Support that Pakistan is respectful, loyal and committed.

Kindly enlighten your knowledge before you speak out and make fool out of yourself.