Iraqi And Saudi Arabian Leaders Trade Barbs On Yemen Air Campaign

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq has gone on record publicly criticizing the Saudi air campaign in Yemen. Abadi made his remarks early in the day at Blair House, the guest residence for visiting dignitaries, while speaking to a small group of reporters. Abadi voiced concerns that the fighting in Yemen had created huge humanitarian problems and that the airstrikes were just compounding the problem. He also seemed to suggest that the United States agreed with him.

Shortly after Abadi made his remarks, Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, held a news conference at the Saudi Embassy and provided a sharp rebuttal to the words of the Iraqi prime minister, saying that there was “no logic to those remarks.’’ Some of the reporters at the news conference had been at Blair House with Abadi earlier in the day. Reports that Saudi airstrikes had accidentally killed numerous civilians were dismissed as false and Jubeir reported that Saudi Arabia had taken numerous measures to minimize the risks to Yemeni civilians.

The Saudi air campaign that began three weeks ago is aimed at stopping the Houthi fighters who are battling for control of Yemen. The Saudi air campaign is in support of the US-backed officials in Yemen and against the Iranian-backed Houthis. Jubeir expressed optimism for the Saudi campaign in Yemen, saying that the bombings destroyed attack planes, helicopters, ballistic missiles, air defenses, and command elements, but no precise figures were given for the campaign.

The ambassador dismissed Abadi’s claim that the United States was worried about the air campaign and its goals, commenting that no US official had voiced complaints or concerns to him about it. He also stated that the airstrikes has created fissures among the Houthis and loyalists to the former Yemeni president, with some senior Yemeni officers defecting back to the government side.

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