Mindef to only heed UN’s requests for soldiers, after withdrawing from Yemen conflict

In June last year, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu confirmed that the government was pulling out its security forces from Saudi Arabia, adding that it was a Cabinet decision. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
In June last year, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu confirmed that the government was pulling out its security forces from Saudi Arabia, adding that it was a Cabinet decision. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu has said that the Malaysian government will only heed requests from United Nations (UN) for peacekeepers and security forces, and will not aid any nation in its war with another country.

The politician known as Mat Sabu said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government wants to stick to its policy to abstain from getting involved in bloodshed with other countries, as it wants to remain in cordial relationships with them.

“This is based on the policy that we want to be friendly with all countries, except Israel, and Malaysia is ready to be considered to have our military sent overseas on UN mission,” he told a group interview the media yesterday.

“Our policy is to continue with the policy to abstain, except when we are under UN. We can consider if there are any requests from UN to send our troops, like how our military members are in Lebanon right now.

“Sending our troop to Saudi Arabia was not a UN decision, and things there became a terrible fight, and now the war in Yemen has been declared as the worst disaster ever after World War II, whereby children and women are dead,” Mohamad added.

He also urged international bodies and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to intervene in the crisis and help those affected by the war.

In June last year, Mohamad confirmed that the government was pulling out its security forces from Saudi Arabia, adding that it was a Cabinet decision.

Mohamad was previously reported by national news agency Bernama as saying the government was reviewing its security forces in the Middle East who were ordered there by the previous BN administration to help evacuate Malaysians in war-torn Yemen.

He had asserted then that Malaysia could be dragged indirectly into the Saudi-Yemen conflict by means of its military forces being stationed there.

Mohamad’s predecessor Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had sought to assure Malaysians in March 2017 that the country would not be affected by the Saudi-Yemen conflict, insisting that the troops were there for strictly for humanitarian purposes.

Malaysian troops have been in Saudi Arabia since 2016 and were reported by international news wire AFP to be part of the kingdom’s military exercise with 20 nations against the insurgency in Yemen.

Mohamad’s deputy Liew Chin Tong had in December last year, that Hishamuddin departed from standard procedures in the deployment of Malaysian troops to participate in a Saudi-led coalition that is in conflict with Yemen by neglecting to seek Cabinet approval beforehand.

He also disclosed that the deployment cost Malaysia tens of millions of ringgit.

The deputy defence minister said there was no record of a Cabinet decision at the time to sanction the mission.

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