Egyptian authorities agreed to extend involvement in military operations in Yemen by another six months, in support of the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting Shia Huthi groups since March.
On Saturday, the state-owned Middle East News Agency confirmed that Egypt’s military would provide the “necessary elements for the forces” in the Yemeni conflict for a further six months, or until the objectives are met, in order to uphold national security for Arab Gulf states, the Red Sea region, and the Bab al-Mandab Strait.
Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (with the exception of Oman) are leading the military offensive in Yemen, claiming that Shia Huthi rebels seized control of the state in a coup (from September 2014 until February 2015), which they allege was orchestrated by Iran in an attempt to expand its influence in the region.
At the behest of Saudi Arabia’s ruling dynasty, Egypt joined “Operation Decisive Storm” on March 26, and continued to lend military support throughout subsequent operations, “Restoring Hope” and “Golden Arrow.”
Following a brief visit by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Saudi Arabia in May, Egypt’s military leadership agreed to extend their operations in Yemen by another three months.
This latest six-month extension comes just two days after an official visit to Cairo by Mohamed bin Salman — Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense — on July 30. Salman met with Sisi and other military leaders during his visit, and local media outlets reported that Egypt’s involvement in Yemen was one of the main topics discussed.
During Salman’s visit, Al-Bawaba news portal reported that Egypt was assisting the “liberation of Yemen,” and “confronting Iranian threats” in the region, in supporting the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen.
Replenishing Egypt’s coffers with billions of petro-dollars, Saudi Arabia has emerged as Egypt’s largest benefactor since the military-led ouster of President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013.
Saudi Arabia’s ruling family has been adamant on reinstating Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi as Yemen’s president, even though his presidential mandate expired in early 2014. Hadi was voted-in as a caretaker president via a referendum in February 2012, in which he was the only candidate nominated.
From March to July 2015, the UN estimates that around 1,900 Yemenis have died in the conflict, with some 4,200 injured and over 1.2 million others internally displaced. Yemen’s civilian non-combatants are reported to be bearing the brunt of this armed conflict. Fighting between armed factions in Yemen has, on occasion, spilled over into southern Saudi Arabia.
The ongoing conflict has further impoverished Yemen, which was already one of the poorest countries in the world. Yemen ranked 154 out of 187 countries on the 2014 Human Development Index of the United Nation’s Development Program. Saudi Arabia ranked 34 on the same list.