Saudi-led coalition refutes claims of withdrawal in Yemen

Saudi-led coalition refutes claims of withdrawal from Yemen as 'baseless and unfounded'
3 min read
11 November, 2021
The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said its troops were being redeployed not withdrawn following reports that the Saudi military had left a major base in the southern port city of Aden.
'Movement and redeployment of troops based on operational and tactical assessment' was a standard operation "in all military forces across the world,' said a Saudi spokesperson

The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen said on Wednesday its troops were redeploying in line with its strategy to support Yemeni forces, but were not withdrawing.

Yemeni security sources told Reuters the Saudi military had withdrawn from a major military base in Burayqah district in the southern port city of Aden, removing troops, hardware and heavy artillery.

Some of the troops and equipment were loaded in warships in Aden port, while others flew out from the city's airport, the sources said. Long convoys of the kingdom's military were seen on Tuesday heading from Burayqah military base to Aden port, witnesses said.

The spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition, General Turki al-Malki, told Reuters reports circulating about a Saudi military withdrawal from south Yemen were "baseless and unfounded".

"Movement and redeployment of troops based on operational and tactical assessment" was a standard operation "in all military forces across the world", General Malki said.

The new drawdown of Saudi forces followed intense diplomacy from the United States and the United Nations to end a seven-year-old conflict that has killed tens of thousands and put millions at risk of starvation.

US Envoy to Yemen Timothy Lenderking visited Riyadh this week as Washington pressed Saudi Arabia to lift a blockade on Houthi-held ports, a condition from the Iran-aligned group to start ceasefire talks.

However, Riyadh first wants US weapons to help the kingdom strengthen its defence systems following Houthi attacks on its territory with drones and ballistic missiles.

The US State Department approved its first major arms sale to Saudi Arabia under US President Joe Biden with the sale of 280 air-to-air missiles valued at up to $650 million, the Pentagon said last week.

Late on Wednesday, heavy blasts were heard across the capital Sanaa following airstrikes by the coalition's warplanes, residents said. This followed several ballistic missiles fired by the Houthis on Saudi southern regions and Yemeni provinces of Marib and Taiz, the Houthi military spokesman said.

Ambassadors of the five permanent Security Council members also held a meeting with the Saudi ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Al-Jaber, where they stressed the need for de-escalation, including an immediate end to hostilities in the Marib region.

"All Yemeni parties should engage in genuine dialogue in order to reach comprehensive political solution to end the crisis in Yemen and alleviate the humanitarian suffering of its people," a statement issued after the meeting said.

The coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) intervened in Yemen in 2015 after Houthi forces ousted the internationally recognised government from the capital, Sanaa.

The UAE has scaled down its military presence in the country since 2019.