Arab Foreign Ministers Discuss Yemen Ahead of Al Summit (allAfrica.com)

Arab foreign ministers met on Thursday in Egypt’s resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss the latest developments in Yemen, in a preparatory meeting for the Arab Summit.
The 26th Arab League summit is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. It is the first AL summit to be held in Egypt since the January 2011 uprising which toppled the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak.
Saudi Arabia launched military operations in its conflict-torn neighbour Yemen as part of a coalition that includes 9 other countries, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel A. al-Jubeir announced early Thursday.
AL Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi stressed the league’s “full support” for the Saudi-led operations in Yemen.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said in an opening statement on Thursday that Egypt’s stance stems from its rejection of taking over the legitimate authority in Yemen.
Egypt announced early Thursday that it is coordinating with Saudi Arabia over preparations to participate with an Egyptian air and naval force in Yemen, “and a ground force if necessary.”
“Egypt announces it political and military support to the step taken by the coalition that supports the legitimate Yemeni government, in response to its request,” the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-hamad Al-sabah said that the operations are within Saudi Arabia’s right to self defence. He added that it came after the Houthis turned down the gulf states’ initiatives.
Following Arabi’s speech, a closed session among Arab foreign ministers began to discuss the situation in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia is contributing with 150,000 troops and 100 warplanes to the operations, gulf broadcaster al-Arabiya TV reported, adding that additional contribution to the operations will arrive from the countries of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan. Riyadh did not immediately confirm the figures.
The operations come after the Houthis, a Shi’a rebel movement which has controlled Sanaa since last September, made advances onto the Yemeni South on Wednesday.
The airstrikes launched early today target the Houthi’s air force, the Saudi state agency SPA cited the Yemeni Foreign Minister as saying. Riyadh Yaseen added that the operation aims to halt the Houthis’ use of airports and planes to assault Aden, where the U.S.-backed Yemeni President is believed to have taken refuge.
In January, the Houthis took control of the Yemeni presidential palace after fighting with presidential guards and the group has since forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee the capital.
Hadi and his administration initially stepped down but he later went to the coastal city of Aden in south Yemen in February, where he claimed he remains the rightful president of Yemen. Saudi Arabia says military operation is in response to an appeal from Hadi.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar said in a joint statement reported by the Saudi state agency that they have decided to respond to a letter by Hadi, in which he called on these five countries and Oman to “provide immediate support, using all necessary means and measures.”
The White House announced in a statement late Wednesday that the United States supports the actions of Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries “to defend Saudi Arabia’s border and to protect Yemen’s legitimate government.”
“[U.S.] President [Barack] Obama has authorised the provision of logistical and intelligence support to Gulf Cooperation Council-led military operations. While U.S. forces are not taking direct military action in Yemen in support of this effort, we are establishing a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate U.S. military and intelligence support,” the White House statement read.
Meanwhile Iran, which is seen as a strong supporter to the Shi’a Houthis, called for “immediately stopping the Saudi military operations in Yemen,” the Iranian state agency IRNA reported.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reportedly described the airstrikes as “a breach of Yemen’s sovereignty”, adding that they would only lead to “bloodshed”.