Malaysia’s Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu says the country is considering ending its involvement in Saudi Arabia’s ongoing military aggression against the people of Yemen.
“Why would we want to be involved in attacking Yemen, another Islamic nation?” Sabu told The Malaysian Insight on Wednesday. “We don’t want to be involved in such conflicts.”
Popularly known as Mat Sabu, the new defense minister said the involvement had “indirectly” mired Malaysia in the Middle East and hurt its neutral policy in the region.
He insisted that Malaysia has never side with the political ideology of any of the world’s superpowers either.
Saudi media have named Malaysia as one of the 34 countries that have been working with the kingdom in “fighting terrorism.”
In April, Malaysian army forces took part in a joint military exercise called “(Persian) Gulf Shield 1” in Damman, Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia and its regional allies such as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have been pounding targets across Yemen in an unprovoked war that began in March 2015 and has so far killed over 13,000 Yemenis without yielding any meaningful results.
Sabu’s remarks follow a call by the local human rights body, Lawyers for Liberty, to end Malaysia’s involvement in the wake of a ruthless attack by the Saudi-led coalition on the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah.
The body called Sabu to explain the presence of Malaysian troops in Riyadh and their involvement in the deadly war.
“Malaysia has no business being involved in the war in Yemen,” Eric Paulsen, Lawyers for Liberty executive director, said Tuesday.
“If it is indeed true that our troops were deployed to assist in evacuation efforts, then the work should have been done by now, and there is no need to remain deployed for over three years,” he added.
Sabu’s predecessor, Hishammuddin Hussein, had previously denied Malaysia’s involvement in the Saudi-led operations and said its military officers were there to evaluate the situation.