Oil Prices Rise as Egypt Ready to Send Ground Troops to Battle Iranian Allies in Yemen

Oil prices went up over Yemen fighting. Oil Tanker. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Navy. Photo by Mass Communication 2nd Class Nathan Schaeffer

Oil prices went up over Yemen fighting. Oil Tanker. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Navy. Photo by Mass Communication 2nd Class Nathan Schaeffer

The civil war in Yemen has turned into a regional war that has some reporters asking if it is a religious sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia Islam. And it looks like the fight is about to only intensify as Egypt’s leader said they are prepared to send in ground troops “if necessary,” according to The New York Times. The array of nations led by Saudi Arabia fighting the rebel Houthi movement in Yemen have reportedly already intervened with more than 150 fighter jets from eight different Muslim nations, reported CNN. Including naval assistance from Egypt and Pakistan, there are ten nations involved in attacking the Houthi rebels.

The Houthi, meanwhile, are believed by the Saudis to be backed by Iran, said CNN. US spokesperson Marie Harf, according to briefings released by the State Department, say Iran has given “a huge amount of support” to the Houthis, but had “not seen evidence” the rebel group is under the “command and control” of Iran. Despite that, the US came out in strong support of the Saudi-led military intervention against the Houthis in Yemen.

US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by conference call with a group of foreign ministers involved in the Yemen conflict on Thursday. “He commended the work of the coalition taking military action against the Houthis, and noted the United States support for those coalition efforts, including intelligence sharing, targeting assistance, and advisory and logistical support for strikes against Houthi targets,” US spokesperson Jeff Rathke said in comments released by the State Department.

He also noted that while their goal is a political solution in Yemen, the Houthi have refused to join one.

“The Houthis have been trying to seize power by force, and it’s that and the threats the Saudis have perceived that they have – has led them to respond,” said Rathke, underscoring they “understand” the Saudi security concerns amidst reports of Houthi activity near their border with Yemen and possibly rocket fire into Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-led intervention came after the Houthi captured the Yemeni capital of Saana and then took sections of the nation’s second-largest city of Aden, according to CNN. Aden, a coastal city, is roughly 125 miles away from the narrowest sea point in the shipping lanes that connect the Red Sea to the Arabian Sea and the Eastern nations.

The New York Times noted that the price of oil went up on Thursday because that region is a sensitive one for oil shipments.

Meanwhile, the escalation in the regional conflict comes as the major world powers continued their nuclear negotiations with Iran. Rathke said that Kerry “briefly” raised the Yemen issue with his Iranian counterpart.

However, Rathke also stressed “this was not and is not the focus of the talks. The focus remains squarely on our and the international community’s concern over Iran’s nuclear program.”

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, March 26, 2015)

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