وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ
“Help each other to goodness and taqwa. Do not help each other to wrongdoing and enmity. Have taqwa of Allah. Allah is severe in retribution.”
Abdel Fatah al-Sisi says Arab world faces ‘unprecedented’ threats – and describes Shia rebels in Yemen ‘stooges of Iran’
Abdel Fatah al-Sisi receives Saudi King Salman upon his arrival ahead of the Arab Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh.
Martin Williams and agencies
Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, has backed calls to create a unified Arab force to confront regional security threats, and said intervention in Yemen was the “inevitable” result of meddling by a foreign power.
Speaking at an Arab League summit, he said that the military campaign against Shia Houthi militias in Yemen, which has been led by Saudi Arabia, aimed to “preserve Yemen’s unity and the peace of its territories”.
Sisi was backed by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who vowed that the military intervention in Yemen would not stop until the country was stable and safe.
The Egyptian president said the Arab world was facing unprecedented threats and, without mentioning it by name, accused Shia, non-Arab Iran of meddling in Arab affairs. He also blamed Shia rebels for creating chaos in the country, calling them “stooges of Iran”.
The campaign of air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition of 10 nations was in response to a power grab in the impoverished nation by Iranian-backed Shia rebels known as the Houthis. Iran and the Houthis deny that Tehran arms the rebel movement.
Dozens of foreign diplomats have been evacuated from the city of Aden as rebels closed in on the city, according to television reports in Saudi Arabia.
Sisi, a former soldier, told the summit that the Arab world was facing unprecedented threats and said the attacks would continue until the Houthis surrender.
Analysis Iran-Saudi proxy war in Yemen explodes into region-wide crisis
The Saudi-led military intervention has been strongly backed by the US, and other global powers may be drawn in as the crisis unfolds
The summit comes amid mounting instability and insurgencies in the region. A months-long Houthi rebellion has escalated into a regional conflict that threatens to tear apart the impoverished state at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula.
On Friday night, there were reports that the Saudi-led coalition was continuing its air strikes on Yemen’s capital, Sana’a.
Planes also attacked a convoy of Houthi armoured vehicles, tanks and military trucks heading from the coastal town of Shaqra for an attack on Aden, the country’s commercial centre.
At least 39 civilians have been killed in Operation Decisive Storm since it began on Thursday, officials at the rebel-controlled health ministry in Sana’a said.
Twelve died when residential areas were hit in a raid on a military base north of the capital, the officials told AFP.
As many as 10 countries, including Egypt, have joined the coalition as Riyadh leads the predominantly Sunni Muslim 22-member Arab League in a bid to curb Iran’s growing regional influence.
The annual Arab League summit was originally scheduled to discuss a joint Arab military force, but is instead focusing on the Yemen crisis.
Barack Obama has said the US shares a “collective goal” with its regional ally to see stability in Yemen, where the Houthis have been tightening their grip since the new year.
He also offered support to King Salman, as it emerged that US military forces had rescued two Saudi pilots forced to eject from their fighter jet in the region on Thursday.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, has said negotiations were the only way to prevent a long-term conflict in Yemen.
Also speaking at the summit, Ban said he was angry and shamed by the failure of the world to stop Syria’s raging civil war and promised to step up diplomatic efforts.
“Negotiations facilitated by my special envoy, Jamal Benomar, and endorsed by the security council remain the only chance to prevent long, drawn-out conflict,” he said.