US Republican Senator John McCain has applauded the offensive launched by Saudi Arabia and its allies against Yemen, speculating that the “conflict will probably escalate” into a regional war in the Middle East.
McCain said on Thursday Saudi Arabia and its allies “did the right thing” by launching the offensive against the country.
The Armed Services chairman added the invasion saved oil exports from the Middle East because if Yemen were to fall, it could choke off oil exports from the region.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter. It has the world’s largest proven oil reserves and production capacity.
Oil tankers carry almost four million barrels daily through the Bab el-Mandeb strait, which connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. The strait is 18 miles wide at its narrowest point.
The offensive has raised concerns about the vulnerability of the Bab el-Mandeb strait between Yemen and Djibouti, which has been identified by the US Department of Energy as a potential “chokepoint” in the global oil market.
The tankers carry crude on a daily basis through the Red Sea and Suez Canal to Europe. Oil supplies to the United States take a longer route around the southern tip of Africa.
Analysts, however, say neither side in the Yemen conflict has the kind of weaponry that would pose a serious threat to tankers in the Bab el-Mandeb.
Yemenis carry a body after pulling it from under the rubble of a building destroyed by Saudi airstrikes near Sana’a Airport on March 26, 2015.
On Thursday, Saudi Arabia began launching airstrikes in the country.
Saudi warplanes bombed the positions of the Ansarullah fighters and launched attacks against the Sana’a airport and the Dulaimi airbase.
US President Barack Obama authorized the Pentagon to provide logistical and intelligence support to Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said.
Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that his country praises the military action and is backing it through intelligence sharing, targeting assistance and logistical support.