March 23, 2015 / 3:01 PM / 4 years ago

Saudi Arabia: Arabs will take action over Yemen if peace efforts fail

RIYADH (Reuters) - Arab countries will take necessary measures to protect the region against “aggression” by Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi group if a peaceful solution cannot be found to that country’s turmoil, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said on Monday.

The Houthis and Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi have established rival power centers in Sanaa and Aden and denied each other’s legitimacy, and appear to be moving towards open conflict.

Asked if Riyadh might offer military aid to Hadi, whom it recognizes as Yemen’s legitimate ruler, Prince Saud said: “Certainly, countries in the region and the Arab world will take the necessary measures to protect the region from aggression.”

Speaking at a joint news conference with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Prince Saud repeated an invitation to all Yemen’s rival factions, including the Houthis, to attend peace talks in the kingdom.

Hammond said Britain and its allies were discussing their response.

“The international community will not stand by while Houthi forces and other actors continue to undermine stability in Yemen and seek to fragment that country and undermine its legitimate president,” he said, adding: “None of us wants to see military action.”

Asked about Tehran’s role in supporting the Houthis in Yemen, Prince Saud said he was “against Iran’s interference” and also attacked what he described as Iran’s efforts to “stir up sectarian conflict” in Arab states.

Earlier, in Cairo, Riyadh Yaseen, named by Hadi as his interim foreign minister, called for Gulf Arab military intervention in Yemen, and notably the imposition of a no-fly zone, to stop territorial advances by Houthi fighters.

Reporting by Angus McDowall, Amena Bakr and Noah Browning, Writing by William Maclean; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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