Pakistani defense chief due in Riyadh, airlifts troops for Saudi Yemen war. Aden landings imminent
The US-led world powers and Iran Monday, March 30, entered the last tense hours for a nuclear deal as though Lausanne was on a different planet from the Middle East, where the Yemen war, in which Iran is deeply involved, abruptly scooped up a power outside the region, Pakistan.
A high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad on Monday reaffirmed Pakistan’s “firm commitment to supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia.” Among those attending were Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif, Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Defense Minister Khawaja Asif. The Defense minister leads a Pakistani military delegation arriving in Riyadh Tuesday.
The Islamabad communiqués did not specify the types of military support Pakistan has pledged to its Saudi ally.
debkafile’s Intelligence sources report that the Pakistani army is preparing to airlift a large force of several brigades up to a complete division to Saudi Arabia.
Our military sources note that Pakistan’s decision to intervene in the war against “Shiite Muslim Houthi rebels” presages the Yemen conflict’s expansion to ground and sea operations after four days of heavy Saudi air raids.
The Pakistani brigades would relieve the substantial Saudi ground forces strung out along the kingdom’s 1,000-kilometer-long southern border with Yemen, and free them up for action against the Houthis. Pakistani troops would also be available for ensuring security at Saudi oil fields and terminal, as they have in the past.
Riyadh fears that bands of terrorists trained by Iran, some of them Houthis, might infiltrate the kingdom and target its oil infrastructure.
debkafile sources report that, after the Saudi air bombardment broke the back of the Houthi-controlled Yemeni Air Force aircraft and its missile resources Sunday, a task completed Sunday,the fourth day of its intervention, Saudi and allied Gulf and Egyptian forces are preparing to land marines in the big Yemeni Red Sea port of Aden. They aim to stabilize the battle lines and prevent the town’s fall to the rebels.
But despite the gains made by the Saudi Air Force, Houthi forces are still advancing on Aden, and have come as far as artillery range from the city and its airport. Egypt forces intervened Monday to check the advance, Its offshore warships and incoming jets blasted the Houthi columns as they closed in on the city.
Once Aden is secured, the Yemeni president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled the city on the eve of the Saudi operation, can return and start re-assembling his tattered regime. A restored and functioning legitimate government is essential for the conduct of the coming stages of the war to crush the revolt, but also envisages an exit line: negotiations for the conflict’s termination.