Saudi Arabia accuses US of interfering in Yemen’s elections
Saudi Arabia accused the United States on Thursday of interfering with Yemen’s presidential elections and said it was ready to retaliate against the US if necessary.
The Saudi-owned Al Jazeera network said in a statement that the US had asked its allies to halt all media and social media operations in Yemen, including the country’s biggest TV network, Al Arabiya.
Saudi Arabia says the Houthi rebels who are backed by Iran and are leading a Saudi-led coalition against the Iranian-allied government are allied with Iran.
The statement said the US, which is also a major military ally of the Saudis, was “interfering” in the elections.
Saudi-led forces, including Arab air forces, have been fighting the Houthis since March 2015, but the war has killed at least 10,000 people and displaced millions.
It said the Trump administration had not acted on its request to halt the campaign but the US was preparing to retaliate if necessary by cutting off aid and other aid, and by halting imports from the Gulf states.
The US is also expected to seek a new round of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which has said it wants to reduce its dependence on Iran.
Al Jazeera’s Nick Dearden, reporting from Riyadh, said the Houthin alliance has been able to use its proxy, Iran, to gain access to arms, and that the Houthins now control most of the country.
“This is very much in line with what the Trump Administration is doing now,” he said.
“We expect to see more escalation from the US in the coming days.”
We expect the US to take action to stop the arms shipments to Saudi.
This will send a very clear signal to Iran that we expect an escalation of the war, Dearden said.
The Houthis, who control large parts of Yemen, are backed mainly by Iran.
Saudi officials have said the United Nations Security Council has authorised a $7 billion (5.8 billion) aid package to help Yemen rebuild its damaged infrastructure.
They have also said that more than 5,000 Houthi fighters have been killed in the fighting.
The United Nations has said more than a million people have been displaced by the conflict.
The coalition that is backing the Saudi-backed government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is led by former vice president Mohammed al-Houthi, who is also the head of the Houths’ political wing.