Iraq cannot stop Iran arms transfer to Syria: FM

Updated 14 July 2013
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Iraq cannot stop Iran arms transfer to Syria: FM

DUBAI: Iraq lacks the means to stop Iranian arms deliveries to Syria through its airspace, if there are any, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said in comments published on Saturday.
“Last September we started to inspect Iranian and Syrian planes at random. We have found non-lethal materials, like equipment, medicine and food,” Zebari said in an interview published by the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
“In all honesty, those planes might be carrying other stuff, but we have neither the deterrent means, nor the air defenses and fighter jets to prevent... arms shipments,” he told the pan-Arab daily.
Zebari said he had urged Western governments to take action themselves if they were convinced that Iran was smuggling weapons to its Syrian ally.
“I told the West: If you want to stop Iran’s air bridge to Syria over Iraq, go ahead.”
Zebari said Western governments were convinced such an air bridge existed and that his response was: “This does not have my consent, and I do not have the means to prevent it.”
He said the Shiite-led government in Baghdad had urged Tehran “not to use relations with (Iraq) to send arms to others.”
“We reject and condemn the shipping of arms through our airspace, and we will tell the Iranian side of that officially, but we cannot stop it,” Zebari said.
The conflict in Syria has become increasingly sectarian as it has entered its third year, with the mainly Sunni rebels receiving support from the Gulf Arab monarchies, and the Damascus regime getting backing from Shiite Iran.
Zebari, himself a Sunni Kurd, said last month that he could not deny that Iraqi Shiites were fighting in Syria alongside the forces of President Bashar Assad, whose Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
But he stressed that their involvement in the conflict “does not come under government policy.”


UAE minister: Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time

Updated 18 June 2018
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UAE minister: Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time

  • Gargash, speaking to reporters in Dubai, estimated the number of Houthi fighters in Hodeidah at between 2,000 to 3,000
  • The UN envoy for Yemen carried a plan to halt fighting around the key aid port of Hodeidah where Houthi militia have been battling a regional coalition as he arrived Saturday in the militia-held capital Sanaa

DUBAI: The Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-aligned Houthis for control of Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah will take a “calculated and gradual” approach to the battle, a senior United Arab Emirates official said on Monday.

The comments came after witnesses said eight villagers had been killed and 15 others wounded when Houthi militia shelled a village in the center of the country called Haglan Maris.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the military alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE was taking into consideration a “fragile humanitarian situation,” avoiding civilian casualties in addition to military calculations.

Gargash, speaking to reporters in Dubai, estimated the number of Houthi fighters in Hodeidah at between 2,000 to 3,000. He declined to reveal the size of coalition forces but said they had “numerical superiority.”

He said that the Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time.

Gargash added that the Hodeidah port is a “major artery” for weapons smuggling from Iran to the Houthis.

“The liberation of Hodeidah is a major step in freeing Sanaa,” the UAE minister said, adding that “the roads leading to the port are filled with mines.”

France is said to be helping the Arab coalition in demining the roads.

“We have opened the road from Hodeidah to Sanaa to allow the militias to flee without resistance,” Gargash said.

The UN envoy for Yemen carried a plan to halt fighting around the key aid port of Hodeidah where Houthi militia have been battling a regional coalition as he arrived Saturday in the militia-held capital Sanaa for emergency talks.

Martin Griffiths was expected to propose to militia leaders that they cede control of the Red Sea port to a UN-supervised committee and halt heavy clashes against advancing government troops backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

(With AFP, AP & Reuters)