The leader of Yemen’s Shiite Houthi group on Sunday accused neighboring Saudi Arabia of violating his country’s sovereignty and seeking to occupy Yemen.
SANAA – “Saudi Arabia wants to invade and occupy Yemen,” Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said in a televised address, his first in 24 days.
“It only wants to force this country into submission,” he added.
Houthi said the oil-rich kingdom did not have the right to violate Yemen’s sovereignty, accusing it of “indiscriminately” killing Yemeni civilians.
He claimed that Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies started striking his group just when Yemeni political rivals were in the middle of national dialogue.
“Saudi Arabia impeded the dialogue only to prepare for its aggression,” al-Houthi said.
He accused the United States of being the “architect” of the Saudi-led campaign.
He said Washington had decided the targets Saudi and other countries’ warplanes should strike inside Yemen.
The Houthi leader, meanwhile, claimed that his group was confronted in southern Yemen by Al-Qaeda, adding that Saudi-led strikes are helping the radical group.
“It is in nobody’s interest in southern Yemen to abet Al-Qaeda,” he said.
Houthi defended Iran, describing it as a “free country” that did not act as anybody’s lackey.
Late last month, Saudi Arabia and several other Arab states began an air campaign against Houthi positions across Yemen.
Riyadh says the strikes come in response to appeals by embattled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi for help against the Shiite militants.
Yemen has been in turmoil since the Houthis overran capital Sanaa in September and have since advanced on other provinces.