Malaysia says it is pulling its troops out of the Saudi-led military coalition, which has been relentlessly pounding impoverished Yemen in an imposed war for the past three years.
“The Cabinet made the decision (to bring soldiers home) last week. We are waiting for the preparations carried out by the Armed Forces,” Malaysia’s Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu told journalists in a select media interview at the ministry in the capital Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
“We are also waiting for the cooperation from the Foreign Affairs Ministry that will assist in the move,” he added.
Saudi Arabia and some 20 of its allies, including the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan, launched a brutal war, code-named Operation Decisive Storm, against Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Yemen’s former president and an staunch ally of Riyadh, and crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.
The Houthi movement, which is a significant aid to the Yemeni army in defending the country against the invading forces, has been running state affairs in the absence of an effective administration during the past three years.
The military aggression against the impoverished nation was initially consisted of a bombing campaign but later coupled with a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces into Yemen.
The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured until then. The war and the accompanying blockade have also caused famine across Yemen.
The Saudi-led aggression has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories. The United Nations has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.
“Malaysia remains a friend of the countries as well as their neighbors. [However,] we don’t want to be part of the conflict with Saudi Arabia’s neighboring countries,” Sabu added.
Separately, Malaysian National News Agency, Bernama, quoted the defense minister as saying that his country could be dragged indirectly into the Saudi-led war on Yemen by dint of its military troops being stationed there by the previous Barisan Nasional administration.
Unlike the incumbent defense minister, his predecessor, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, had sought to assure Malaysians in March last year that the Southeast Asian country would not be affected by the Saudi-led war, claiming that the troops were there for humanitarian purposes.
Malaysian troops have been in Saudi Arabia since 2016, when the brutal war triggered a deadly cholera outbreak in Yemen, which has already killed thousands of people.
Several Western countries, the United States and Britain in particular, are also accused of being complicit in the ongoing aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.