UNITED NATIONS: Iran has violated a UN arms embargo by failing to block supplies to Yemen's Houthi rebels of ballistic missiles that were fired at Saudi Arabia, according to a UN experts' report seen by AFP on Friday.
The finding is expected to bolster accusations from the US and Saudi Arabia that Iran has supplied weaponry to the Houthis in their war against the Saudi-led coalition.
"The panel has identified missile remnants, related military equipment and military unmanned aerial vehicles that are of Iranian origin and were introduced into Yemen after the imposition of the targeted arms embargo," said the report presented to the Security Council.
"As a result, the panel finds that the Islamic Republic of Iran is in non-compliance with paragraph 14 of resolution 2216" that imposed the ban on arms sales to Yemen in 2015, said the 79-page report presented on Tuesday.
Iran has strongly denied arming the Houthis and last month accused US Ambassador Nikki Haley of presenting "fabricated" evidence that a November 4 missile fired at Riyadh airport was Iranian-made.
Haley told the Security Council last month that the United States will push for action against Iran for providing missiles that have been fired at its ally, but Russia quickly signalled that it would not endorse such plans.
While the experts pointed to the Iranian origin of the missiles, they were unable to identify the supplier and stressed that Iran had failed to provide information to the panel.
Iran "failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of Borkan-2H short-range ballistic missiles, field storage tanks for liquid bio-propellant oxidizer for missiles and Ababil-T (Qasef-1) unmanned aerial vehicles to the then Houthi-Saleh alliance," said the report.
The UN experts traveled to Saudi Arabia in November and again last month to inspect the remnants of missiles fired by the Houthis in May, July, November and December. The Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015.
More than 8,750 people have died in the war and the country is facing what the United Nations has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Rally outside the army headquarters comes after the military rulers and protest leaders agreed to set up a joint committee
Updated 6 min 49 sec ago
KHARTOUM: Sudanese protesters began gathering for a “million-strong” march Thursday to turn up the heat on the ruling military council after three of its members resigned following talks on handing over power.
The rally outside the army headquarters comes after the military rulers and protest leaders agreed to set up a joint committee, to chart the way forward two weeks after the downfall of veteran president Omar Al-Bashir.
“We call on our people, who have been demanding a transitional civilian rule, to participate in the million-strong march,” said the Alliance for Freedom and Change, the umbrella group leading the protests.
“Our sit-in will continue to protect our revolution and to ensure that all our demands are achieved,” the alliance said in a statement.
As Thursday’s protest got underway, witnesses in downtown Khartoum said crowds of protesters gathered outside the Egyptian consulate and embassy which were surrounded by riot police.
Several people held banners calling on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi not to “interfere in our affairs,” after Cairo hosted a summit of African leaders calling for more time for a transition to civilian rule in Sudan.
Others held signs reading “no to miliary rulers,” while across the city demonstrators began arriving at the army headquarters from the states of Jazeera and White Nile.
The planned mass march follows a late-night meeting between the military council and leaders of the protest movement’s umbrella group.
“We have an agreement on most demands presented in the document of the Alliance for Freedom and Change,” Lt. Gen. Shamseddine Kabbashi, spokesman of the military council, told reporters afterwards.
He did not elaborate on the key demand of handing power to a civilian government, but said there “were no big disputes.”
The Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded months of protests against Bashir, described the meeting as a step toward “confidence-building.”
“Both sides agreed on the importance of joint cooperation to steer the country toward peace and stability,” the SPA said Thursday.
Writing on Twitter, the association said a “joint committee” was being set up to “discuss outstanding disputes” as part of efforts to reach a “comprehensive agreement.”
After returning from the protest site on Thursday, activist Ahmed Najdi said he was expecting “a joint military-civilian sovereign council, which I think is the middle path and most protesters would agree to that.”
Wednesday’s meeting was followed by the military council announcing three members of the ruling body had stepped down after demands from protesters.
They were Lt. Gen. Omar Zain Al-Abdin, Lt. Gen. Jalaluddin Al-Sheikh and Lt. Gen. Al-Tayieb Babikir.
The late night developments came as Siddiq Farouk, one of the leaders of the protests, said the demonstrators were also preparing for a general strike if the military council refuses to hand power to a civilian administration.
The council, led by General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan since his predecessor quit after barely 24 hours in the post, says it has assumed power for a two-year transitional period.
Despite Bashir’s fall, demonstrators have kept up their encampment outside the military headquarters to press their demands.
For the first time, Sudanese judges said they would join the sit-in on Thursday “to support change and for an independent judiciary.”
Protesters in Khartoum were joined Wednesday by hundreds of demonstrators from the central town of Madani, the second major batch of new arrivals from outside the capital in as many days.
“Revolutionaries from Madani want civilian rule,” they chanted, according to witnesses.
The previous day a train laden with demonstrators rolled from Atbara, where protests began on December 19 against a decision by Bashir’s government to triple bread prices.
They swiftly turned into nationwide rallies against his rule and that of the military council that took his place.
The protesters have found support in Washington, which has backed their call for civilian rule.
“We support the legitimate demand of the people of Sudan for a civilian-led government, and we are here to urge and to encourage parties to work together to advance that agenda as soon as possible,” State Department official Makila James told AFP on Tuesday.