Egypt is providing military support for the Gulf-led intervention in Yemen against Shiite Houthi rebels, said Egypt’s state media Al-Ahram.
According to the report, which quoted Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, Egypt is coordinating with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries in the “Firmness Storm” operation. The military support may include aerial, naval or ground support if needed, said Al-Ahram.
The report comes a day after Egyptian Streets quoted a government source stating that while Egypt will intervene in the Yemen, the exact form of intervention has not been finalized, and that potential options include enforcing a no-fly zone or aerial strikes.
News of Egypt’s support comes after Saudi Arabia declared that Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have all joined a coalition to protect ‘the legitimate Yemeni government’ and its people.
Following the announcement, Turkey, which has had rocky relations with Egypt and some Gulf countries, declared its support for the military intervention in Yemen.
— Reuters Pictures (@reuterspictures) March 26, 2015
Meanwhile, the United States vowed to provide “logistical and intelligence” support to the operation which has not yet been officially endorsed by the United Nations.
According to initial reports, senior Houthi leaders are alleged to have been killed in night-time airstrikes by Saudi Arabia.
Shortly after announcing its military operation, Saudi Arabia declared it had imposed a naval blockade on Bab El-Mandab strait to prevent it from falling under Houthi control.
According to AFP, Egypt has also sent four naval warships to secure the strait.
Bab El-Mandab strait is a crucial interest for Egypt and has been cited as one of the reasons Egypt decided to intervene in Yemen. The strait is strategically positioned whereby if it falls under the control of an ‘enemy’ then passage through the Suez Canal can be prevented.
YEMEN’S PRESIDENT FLEES?
As Shiite Houthi rebels captured a key air base from forces loyal to Yemen’s President Hadi, AFP reported that the President has fled with Saudi diplomats from his palace in Aden.
Shortly before the claimed escape, Hadi’s Minister of Defence was captured by Houthi rebels.
According to AFP, which cited sources in the presidential guard, Hadi left by helicopter accompanied by diplomats from Saudi Arabia.
— Ammar Al-Aulaqi (@ammar82) March 26, 2015
Nevertheless, independent news website Yemen Today said Hadi had not fled and that he is leading the armed resistance against the Houthis.
Following the news of his escape, Sky News Arabia reported that fighter jets had launched multiple attacks on the Presidential Palace in Aden.