Iran’s arms ship­ments to Houthis fuel war in Ye­men, ex­perts say

Arab News - - News Middle East - Saeed Al-Batati Al-Mukalla, Ye­men Salem Al-Khan­bashi, deputy prime min­is­ter of Ye­men

The lat­est Saudi-led-coali­tion seizure of an Ira­nian arms ship­ment des­tined for the Houthis is fur­ther ev­i­dence of Iran’s desta­bi­liz­ing role in war-torn Ye­men, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and ex­perts. “This is con­crete proof of Iran’s in­volve­ment in Ye­men,” Salem Al-Khan­bashi, the deputy prime min­is­ter of Ye­men, told Arab News. At a press con­fer­ence in the Saudi cap­i­tal, Riyadh, on Mon­day, the Saudi-led coali­tion an­nounced in­ter­cept­ing a dhow car­ry­ing hun­dreds of weapons, made in Iran, early this month, in­clud­ing mis­siles, sniper ri­fles and am­mu­ni­tion. The dhow was seized off the Ye­meni coastal town of Mocha on the Red Sea and was head­ing to the Houthis, the coali­tion said.

The Ye­meni gov­ern­ment has swiftly de­manded that the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity put an end to Ira­nian med­dling in Ye­men in their send­ing arms ship­ments that fuel the war to the Houthis.

“There must be strong pun­ish­ments against this coun­try that sup­plies Houthis with those ad­vanced weapons,” Al-Khan­bashi said.

Even be­fore the start of the war 5 years ago, con­sec­u­tive Ye­meni gov­ern­ments ac­cused Iran of smug­gling arms to the Houthis, en­abling them to keep fight­ing de­spite com­ing un­der heavy at­tacks by gov­ern­ment and Saudi-led coali­tion forces. The Ye­meni coast guard has in­ter­cepted many sim­i­lar arms ship­ments off the Ye­meni coast over the past sev­eral years.

“There is a con­tin­u­ous smug­gling process that re­sup­plies Houthis with ad­vanced weapons. The na­tional army forces have seized many Ira­nian weapons from Houthis dur­ing fight­ing,” Al-Khan­bashi said. Ger­ald Feier­stein, the for­mer US am­bas­sador to Ye­men, said that the Ira­ni­ans sup­ported the Houthis with weapons and trained them in us­ing them long be­fore the start of the Saudiled mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion in Ye­men.

“The Ira­nian en­gage­ment be­gan long be­fore the out­break of the civil war or the Saudi coali­tion’s in­ter­ven­tion. It’s clear that the Ira­ni­ans saw the Houthi move­ment as an op­por­tu­nity to put pres­sure on Saudi Ara­bia and to threaten its south­ern bor­der,” he told Arab News in an in­ter­view in March.

This is con­crete proof of Iran’s in­volve­ment in Ye­men.

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