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Saudis Called a Halt to Indiscriminate Bombing of Yemen

April 21, 2015 (EIRNS)—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ordered the Saudi Arabian National Guard, widely regarded as the Kingdom’s best-equipped military ground force, to get ready to take part in Riyadh’s campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Riyadh, ostensibly under pressure, has announced an end to airstrikes. A Defense Ministry statement quoted by the country’s news agencies said the objectives of Operation Decisive Storm have been achieved and the Saudi authorities are halting the nearly four-week-old, indiscriminate bombing campaign in Yemen.

Although the call-up of the Saudi National Guard, and the arrival of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt to join seven other U.S. warships in the area, indicated a Saudi-U.S. plan to escalate the war further, earlier in the day Tehran’s Tasnim news agency had quoted Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as saying, "We are optimistic that in the coming hours, after many efforts, we will see a halt to military attacks in Yemen."

What exactly transpired in the interim period has not been revealed yet. However, beside Iran’s proposed UN Resolution seeking an immediate ceasefire, Riyadh was also under pressure from various international aid groups that had criticized the Saudis for the indiscriminate airstrikes and for the enforcement of a rigid embargo that has been starving the Yemenis of food, water, fuel, and medicine. Officials at the World Health Organization in Geneva said today that Yemen’s health services have collapsed. They said the cumulative reported death toll since the Yemen fighting escalated last month was at least 944, with nearly 3,500 wounded.

According to U.S. intelligence sources, the Pentagon had opposed the U.S. support for the Saudi bombing campaign from the outset, but had been over-ruled by "political considerations" at the White House. Between the backlash against the civilian casualties from the Saudi bombing; the growing danger of a new "Gulf of Tonkin" incident in the Gulf of Aden, with Iranian commercial ships heading towards Yemen and Obama threatening to board and search them for weapons; and the politics of the upcoming Obama-Gulf Cooperation Council summit at Camp David, the U.S. generals were able to renew the pressure for the halt to military operations.