Middle East Heavyweights Choose Sides

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Saudis lead coalition in airstrikes on Tehran-backed Houthi militant group.

The conflict in Yemen is quickly devolving into a wider regional conflagration, pitting Shiite Iran and an allied militant group against Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states that came together to launch airstrikes on those militants.

The coordinated Arab attacks led by Saudi Arabia began early Thursday morning and targeted the Shiite-linked Houthi militant group in Yemen. They followed weeks of talks on forging a joint military force to combat what some nations see as regional threats from Iran coupled with a U.S. reluctance to intervene.

Saudi Arabia, Shiite Iran’s main rival for power in the Middle East, conducted the first round of strikes against the Houthis. In the early hours of Friday, residents of the capital San’a reported an intense barrage of explosions as a second round apparently began.

Saudi Arabia said its campaign in Yemen was being conducted in tandem with Egypt and Gulf neighbors Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait. Morocco, Jordan, Pakistan, Sudan and Turkey, although not yet directly involved, indicated they would support operations against the Houthis.

Egypt’s intervention could be particularly sensitive at home.

The establishment of an Arab coalition to fight the Houthi advance in Yemen served to accelerate prior talks on a more far-reaching joint military force.

The campaign in Yemen marks “a new page of Arab cooperation for the security of the region,” Anwar Gargash, the U.A.E. minister of state for foreign affairs, wrote on Twitter.

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