Saudi Arabia has effectively blockaded Yemen as of this morning, with its coalition now policing Yemen’s sky and coast, CNN reports. Airstrikes have pounded Houthi targets across the country, from their northern stronghold in Saada province to military bases near Aden. At least 39 civilians have been killed in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital city, alone, according to the country’s Houthi-controlled government. Yesterday, Egypt said it was prepared to send ground troops to invade Yemen if it became necessary.
The leader of the Houthi movement called the Saudi actions a “despicable aggression” and said they would not give in. “What do they expect us to do, surrender, announce our defeat and act like cowards?” Houthi said in a televised address. “Absolutely not. This is not how the honorable Yemeni people think. We will fight back.” Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi left the country yesterday, soon after the airstrikes began, and traveled to Riyadh. He is expected to continue on to a meeting of the Arab League in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where Arab diplomats announced yesterday the formation of a pan-Arab military force with the ostensible purpose of fighting terrorism.
U.S. Talking to Assad about Jailed Journalist, Assad Says Open to Dialogue
The United States has been in direct contact with the Assad regime to discuss the release of incarcerated journalist Austin Tice. An anonymous State Department official told Reuters yesterday, “we have been in periodic, direct contact with Syrian government officials strictly on consular issues, including the case of Austin Tice.” In an interview with Charlie Rose, Assad denied there had been any communication between his government and the United States, but said he was open to discussing the country’s civil war “based on mutual respect.” Assad told Rose, “Any dialogue is positive…in principle, of course, without pressuring the sovereignty of Syria.”
- Three Shia militias that had been participating in the Iraqi offensive to retake Tikrit have left the battlefield in protest of U.S. airstrikes.
- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the leaders of the United States, France, Britain, and China yesterday to discuss the nuclear deal being negotiated this week in Lausanne, Switzerland.
- Tunisian officials have arrested 23 people with ties to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar al-Sharia in connection to the attack on the Bardo art museum last week.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began the process of forming a new government in earnest yesterday after his success in last week’s election, but will face challenges divvying up cabinet seats to cement his coalition.
- An Egyptian man accused of being a leader of Islamic State-affiliated group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis is awaiting execution though his lawyers say the crimes he’s accused of were committed while he was already in prison.
-J. Dana Stuster
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