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Yemen Authorities Receive from US Navy 3 Suspected Houthi Arms Smugglers

Yemen Authorities Receive from US Navy 3 Suspected Houthi Arms Smugglers

Saturday, 1 September, 2018 - 05:30
US Navy sailors unload weapons seized from a boat in the Gulf of Aden on to the USS Jason Dunham on August 28, 2018. (Reuters)
Jeddah, Aden – Saeed al-Abyad and Asharq Al-Awsat
Yemeni authorities in the Aden province were handed by the US Navy three Yemenis suspected of smuggling arms to the Iran-backed Houthi militias.

The US Navy had intercepted a small boat packed with hundreds of automatic rifles in the Gulf of Aden. The boat was seized in an area where the US Navy had previously confiscated Iranian-supplied arms destined for Yemen.

The Yemeni interior ministry said that investigations with the detainees will soon be kicked off with international cooperation to prove Tehran’s support for the Houthis.

Yemeni Coast Guard chief Khaled al-Qamli said that the weapons were provided by Iran and being smuggled to the Houthis. They were shipped from an African country and sent to Yemen’s Hodeidah province, he added.

He said that the US Navy had sunk the boat in the sea before transferring the smuggled weapons and the crew to Yemeni authorities.

Moreover, he stressed that countries in the Horn of Africa had been repeatedly warned against allowing their territories to be used for smuggling purposes.

The Yemeni authorities did not disclose the amount of weapons seized, by the US Navy said it found about 600 bags filled with small arms -- mostly AK-47s -- totaling more than 1,000 rifles.

The US Navy and other marine forces active in Aden had seized over the years several arms shipments being smuggled to Yemen as part of Iran’s support for the Houthis.

Military observers said that the Houthis obtain Iranian arms through small shipments that are delivered first to small Yemeni islands in the Red Sea before being sent through small fishing ships to the Yemeni coast.

The militias had recently rejected a United Nations proposal to withdraw from Hodeidah and other Yemeni areas on the Red Sea caost, in what observers said was their attempt to keep receiving smuggled arms by sea.

Yemeni army spokesman Abdo Abdullah Majali told Asharq Al-Awsat that Iran still provides the Houthis from time to time with arms, rockets and advanced equipment through the Hodeidah and al-Salif ports.

The only solution to end the smuggling lies in liberating these areas that the Houthis have transformed into launchpads to target international navigation and neighboring countries.

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