Yemen: Are We on The Verge?

SHAH ALAM: I know I have been writing about this several times in the past but it’s look like the crunch is on us. I have written previously that Malaysia will only take part in operations in Yemen as part of a UN peace keeping force.

However it’s looking likely we will have to make a decision about that sooner rather than later and without any UN mandate.

As you are aware, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein met his Saudi Arabia counterpart Mohamad Salman in Jeddah last night.

Hishammudin talking with Mohammad during the meeting. Mindef picture
Hishammudin talking with Mohammad during the meeting. Mindef picture

A release on the meeting by Hishammuddin office stated that both countries agreed to forge better ties on intelligence on IS. Both ministers also discussed the current situation in the Middle East. Hishammuddin said he told the Saudi Defence Minister, who is also the Deputy Crown Prince he appreciated the accommodation, facilities and needs given to Malaysian Armed Force personnel stationed in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi for a humanitarian mission.

Although the release seemed to suggest that the meeting was an ordinary one, circumstances at the moment meant that we can wonder what actually transpired. It is unlikely though Hishammuddin will be able to announce something substantive without reporting to the Cabinet first.

One thing for certain, the timing of the latest meeting – on the verge of the Haj – one of the most important event in the Muslim calendar – suggested it’s more than that.

Coupled with the fact that the Saudi led coalition is facing daily casualties in their operations in Yemen again suggested that this meeting could be a defining moment for the Malaysian Armed Forces and the Najib administration.

Interestingly, Indonesian president Joko Widodo was in the Middle East region recently. We wonder whether he too faced the vexed question facing Malaysia. Pakistan had already said no, so that is that.

To be or not to be, that is the question. We have to wait and see.

–Malaysian Defence

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