Yemen to complain to UN over 'Iranian arms smuggling'

Yemen to complain to UN over 'Iranian arms smuggling'
Yemen's foreign minister said it is 'impossible to hide' the fact that Tehran is supplying weapons to Houthi rebels and called on the UN to intervene
3 min read
25 September, 2016
Tehran faces more allegations of supplying weapons to its Houthi allies in Yemen [AFP]

Yemen plans to make a complaint to the UN over allegations that Iran is smuggling weapons to Houthi rebels in the country.

Accusations have already been made to the UN Security Council by Saudi Arabia - which is leading an Arab coalition to push back the rebels in Yemen - that Tehran is funding and backing its Houthi allies.

Yemen's foreign minister Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi reiterated the claims at the UN summit in New York.

"There are new weapons coming from Iran," he told Reuters.

"It is impossible to hide that weapons smuggling is still taking place from Iran. Some of these weapons have been found on the Saudi-Yemeni border and they are Iranian weapons," he said.

Mekhlafi said his government was in the process of filing a complaint to the Security Council, with evidence including documents and pictures.

Saudi Arabia, which is fighting to reinstate the internationally recognised government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, has long alleged the rebels are funded and backed by its regional rival, and urged the UN to take action earlier this month

Riyadh wrote to the UN, listing "violations" allegedly committed by Houthis, including several cross-border attacks that have left dozens of Saudi civilians dead in recent months.

Tehran views the Houthis, a Zaydi-Shia group, as the legitimate authority in Yemen but denies accusations it supplies them with weapons.

UN-sponsored talks to end 18 months of fighting that has killed at least 10,000 people collapsed last month.


Mekhlafi said President Hadi had met with US and UN officials this week and had agreed in principle to a 72-hour ceasefire.

He said he hoped a break in fighting would take effect "early next week".

"He (Hadi) asked that the ceasefire be taken advantage of by lifting the unjust siege of Taiz and for food to enter simultaneously," Mekhlafi added.


The government was waiting for the UN envoy to speak with the Houthi side to secure those guarantees, he added.

Asked about international criticism over the civilian casualties caused by the Saudi-led coalition, Mekhlafi said the issue was politicised and exaggerated.

"We do not say that there are no victims in this war. This is a war, it's not a war of angels, it's a war of people. There are many victims and there are mistakes and this is normal," he said.

Makhlafi added that there was less attention given to attacks against civilians by the Houthi side.

The Iranian mission at the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest accusation of arms smuggling.

But in a response to Riyadh's complaint, it said: "It is surprising that Saudi Arabia would complain to the United Nations about the use of weapons in Yemen even while Saudi Arabia itself has purchased tens of billions in arms that it is using against the Yemeni people."