Saudi demands Iran stop backing rebels in war-torn Yemen

Riyadh on Sunday demanded Tehran stop backing Shiite rebels in Yemen but insisted it is “not at war with Iran”, as Saudi-led warplanes launched fresh strikes on rebel forces. In the third week of the air strikes mounted by Saudi Arabia and its allies, the International Organization for Migration said it flew a first plane-load of 143 foreigners out of Yemen. U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter acknowledged last week that Al-Qaeda was making gains and the fighting in Yemen was complicating counter-terrorism efforts but vowed they would go on.

I am also deeply concerned about the military escalation where civilian casualties are mounting and public infrastructure is being destroyed.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Saudi Arabia is concerned that the violence could spill over the border it shares with Yemen, and is also worried about the influence of Shi'ite Iran, which has denied Saudi allegations it has provided direct military support to the Houthis. At least 16,000 foreign nationals are stranded in Yemen, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said, adding that it has evacuated 143 people, as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pleaded for the resumption of peace talks in the war-torn country.