DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has said “unprecedented challenges” facing Yemen since Shiite Muslim rebels took over the capital could threaten international security, and called for swift action to deal with instability in its southern neighbour.
The world’s largest oil exporter, which shares a long border with Yemen, welcomed an agreement signed in Sanaa on September 21 to form a new government incorporating the Houthi rebels and some Yemeni southern separatist forces.
But the kingdom, a key US ally which views itself as protector of Sunni Islam, fears the accord could benefit its main regional foe Iran, which it sees as an ally of the Houthis, and might also bolster the militant al-Qaeda group.
It is not clear whether the power-sharing deal will satisfy the Houthis’ demands, or whether it will instead embolden them to seek further powers. Under a security annexe to the accord, they had been expected to leave Sanaa in return for their inclusion in the new government. To date they remain in place.
In some of his strongest language about Yemen to date, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told the UN General Assembly that hopes for an end to the crisis had been wrecked by what he suggested was the Houthis’ failure to honour the deal.
“The lack of implementation of the security annexe of the agreement and the lack of implementation of the agreement itself in the required manner by the Houthi group has dashed these hopes,” he said in a speech circulated by the Saudi mission at the United Nations in New York.
“Yemen faces accelerating and extremely dangerous conditions that require us all to look and propose the necessary solutions to confront these unprecedented challenges,” Prince Saud said.
Prince Saud said Yemen’s violence “will no doubt extend to threaten stability and security on the regional and international arena that could prove difficult to put down regardless of the resources and efforts that may be exerted.”