U.N.-brokered talks aimed at resolving the escalating political crisis in Yemen will be held in Qatar, the U.N. envoy to Yemen said, after the recognized Yemeni government appealed to the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for military assistance.
A day after warning the United Nations Security Council that Yemen was on the brink of civil war, Jamal Benomar announced on Monday that talks between the Yemeni parties would take place in Doha, the capital of Qatar, and that any agreement reached would be signed in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.
Earlier in the day, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said that his country would "take necessary measures if needed" to protect Yemen's sovereignty after the government of President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, holed up in the southern port city of Aden, appealed to the GCC nations for help.
Iran has been repeatedly accused of supporting the Houthis, the armed group that controls the country's north, including the capital Sanaa, an allegation both Tehran and the group deny.
"We are against Iran's intervention in Yemen ... it is actually an act of aggression," al-Faisal said.
"We are keen on protecting Yemen’s sovereignty, the legitimacy of Yemen represented by President Hadi.
"We hope that the crisis can be resolved peacefully and we are ready to respond to any demand that the president requests, whatever it is to support him," al-Faisal said.
Riyadh Yaseen, Yemen's newly appointed foreign minister, has asked for military intervention from the GCC and for the U.N. to impose a no-fly zone. The GCC is an alliance of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Oman; and its Peninsula Shield Force consists of about 40,000 troops and has a permanent base in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province.
"We've had enough, we can't watch them occupying airports and cities, destroying Yemen's infrastructure, and we sit there and watch," Yaseen told Al Jazeera on Monday. "We can't allow Iran to take over our country."
The request came a day after Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, the Saudi interior minister, said the GCC was ready to take "all efforts" to defend the country's security."
Houthis took over the democratically elected government headed by Hadi in February and the GCC countries have since lined up to support Hadi, moving their embassies to Aden to back Hadi.
Hadi, who is also backed by Western states, has been struggling to reassert his authority since escaping house arrest and fleeing to Aden last month.
The Houthis have continued to seize more parts of the country and on Saturday took control of parts of the strategic city of Taiz, as they pushed further south towards Aden.
The group, which hails from the northern region of Saada, insists its territorial advance is an outgrowth of its growing popular support.