RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco will join Saudi-led coalition action in Yemen to hold back Shi‘ite Houthi militia by providing political, intelligence, logistics and military support, the country’s foreign ministry said.
Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab countries launched air strikes throughout Yemen on Thursday to check the Houthi rebels, which are allied to Iran, and have taken over much of Yemen in a bid to oust President Adb-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Morocco’s foreign ministry said its support was intended to “defend legitimacy” and included “making the Royal Armed Forces stationed in the United Arab Emirates available to the coalition”, but it did not confirm reports on Gulf broadcaster Arabiya that it had sent jets.
Morocco has had F-16 warplanes stationed in the United Arab Emirates since it began taking part in coalition air strikes on Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria.
Morocco, along with Egypt, is one of the closest allies of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC) in North Africa. Four countries from GCC - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and UAE - pledged $5 billion aid to Morocco from 2012 to 2017, to help the North African kingdom to overcome “Arab Spring” turmoil.
In 2011, facing a wave of protests for reforms at home that mirrored the Arab Spring unrest elsewhere in the region, King Mohammed approved a new constitution devolving some powers to parliament and the government in limited political reform.
Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi; editing by Patrick Markey and Sophie Walker