Houthi rebels are smuggling weapons – not relief supplies

EPA-EFE/YAHYA ARHAB

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, including a child soldier, shout slogans and hold up weapons during a gathering to mobilise more fighters in Sana'a, Yemen, June 25, 2018.

Houthi rebels are smuggling weapons – not relief supplies


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In the last few days, the Saudi capital Riyadh was hit once again by Houthi rebels. Although the missiles could be intercepted, many of the debris landed in the embassy district of Riyadh. Over the course of these such attacks, Saudi civilians are repeatedly injured and killed.

These events should stimulate thought in the international community: where do the Houthi rebels receive missiles that threaten the civilian population of Yemen and its neighbouring countries? The answer is simple: with Iran, they have a willing supplier who provides them with rockets via the port of Hodeidah. The Houthi militias are being radicalized and supplied with Iranian religious extremism and weapons. The threat posed to the future of Yemen by the Houthi rebels and the threat to the security of a whole region is made possible above all by the theft of aid supplies and the smuggling of weapons through the port of Hodeidah.

Stopping Deliveries from Iran, Freeing the Port

The UN Security Council investigators in their 2017 report on Yemen have discovered evidence of weapon shipments and Iranian weapon technology that violate the UN Security Council resolution 2216’s imposed Yemeni arms embargo, including drones that can deactivate air defence systems. The government of Yemen and the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia have warned the international community for months of the effects of this war and are tirelessly pointing out the need for the liberation of the port city of Hodeidah and Yemen itself.

But so far, attempts by the Yemeni government, the UN and the coalition to bring the Houthi rebels to the negotiating table have failed. They refuse to participate in serious negotiations. The repeated demand to put the port city of Hodeidah under the control of the United Nations is rejected. Even UN security inspections have failed to prevent the smuggling of Iranian weapons through the port, and plans to hand over control of the country to a neutral party are blocked by the Houthi militias.

Forcing the Houthi rebels to the negotiating table

Thus, the military coalition has little choice but to capture the port city of Hodeidah. Only with the port under the control of the legitimate government of Yemen will effective management be able to provide humanitarian aid and prevent the smuggling of Iranian missiles and other weapons. Only then will the Houthi rebels be forced to the negotiating table to achieve lasting political solution.

The forces that are liberating Hodeida are committed to minimizing the damage to the civilian population and ensuring it receives to the necessary assistance. To compensate for any bottlenecks, coalition relief agencies have stepped up aid delivery and food distribution, and are providing hospitals with medical supplies, equipment, personnel and electricity.

Once Hodeida is liberated, the coalition and the Yemeni government will be able to provide humanitarian relief in all areas of Yemen – efforts that deserve the support of the international community.

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