A spokesman for the United Kingdom's Foreign Ministry said that his country was more accepting of Saudi Arabian air strikes in Yemen on Thursday than it was for Egypt's strikes in Libya in February, due to the request coming from a legitimate leader, in reference to Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Saudi Arabia carried out airstrikes on targets belonging to Houthi rebels in Yemen's Sanaa on Thursday, engaging in a conflict between the Houthi's who took over the capital in September and the ousted government whose leader Hadi fled to Aden in February and rescinded an earlier resignation from the presidency.
The Houthis advanced to Aden this week and their entrance to the city on Wednesday reportedly led Hadi to flee to an unknown location.
The Saudi strikes came at the request of Hadi, who the UK foreign spokesman said was the “Yemeni legitimate president," after being asked why London didn’t publicly back Egypt's airstrikes in Libya.
However, he added that his country was sympathetic to the suffering of the Egyptian people in the wake of the murder of 20 Coptic Christians by the IS affiliated groups in Libya.
Egypt swiftly responded to the killings by airstrikes coordinated with Libya's internationally recognised government against Islamic State group locations in Libya's Sirte, though no longer term air campaign followed.
At that time, the UK did not express its blunt support to the Egyptian airstrikes as it did with regard the current military action in Yemen.
After the Egyptian attacks in Libya, The UK prime minster David Cameron said in a statement after a phone talks with the Egyptian president: “We recognized Egypt’s right to defend itself and to protect Egyptians from the threat of terrorism.”
But, he also urged any action taken “to be supportive of the political process, in accordance with international law and focused on legitimate targets.”
“We urged any action taken to be supportive of the political process, in accordance with international law and focused on legitimate targets,” the UK FM” s spokesman said, suggesting that this is the case in Yemen now.
Note: This story was updated on March 28th.