US military release video showing arms smuggling off Yemen

A team from the guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham inspects a dhow while conducting maritime security operations. (AP)
Updated 01 September 2018
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US military release video showing arms smuggling off Yemen

  • Similar vessels intercepted in the same waters in recent years were shipping weapons to the Houthi militia in Yemen
  • Vessel was carrying hundreds of small arms, including AK-47s

DUBAI: The US military released a video showing small ships in the Gulf of Aden smuggling weapons amid the ongoing war in Yemen. 
The short video, published on Friday, says the guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham seized over 1,000 weapons from the “stateless” vessels, the  Associated Press reported. 
The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Meanwhile, a US defense official told Reuters on Wednesday that the US Navy seized hundreds of small arms, including AK-47s, from an unflagged boat in the Gulf of Aden.

Similar vessels intercepted in the same waters in recent years were shipping weapons to the Houthi militia in Yemen from their backers in Iran.

The defense official told Reuters that the incident took place on Tuesday and the boarding was carried out by the crew of the Jason Dunham destroyer. The unflagged vessel was a traditional dhow.

The defense official declined to comment on the destination of the small vessel, but it was being investigated.

He added that the US Navy and allied ships have carried out similar operations in the past, including seizing drugs from vessels in the area.

The Arab coalition, which is supporting Yemen’s government forces in the war against Houthi militia, has repeatedly accused Iran of shipping weapons, including ballistic missile components, to the group.

Weapons seized by the US Navy from a dhow in 2016 that were believed to be on the way to Yemen. (US NAVY)

In September, Vice Adm. Kevin M. Doneganthe, the top American navy commander in the Middle East, said Iran was smuggling illicit weapons and technology into Yemen, that enabled the Houthis to fire increasingly more sophisticated missiles into Saudi Arabia.

In 2016, the British-based Conflict Armament Research provided detailed evidense of the arms smuggling route between Iran and Yemen. 

The group found that weapons seized from Iranian-made dhows by international warships in the Arabian Sea matched similar weapons captured from the Houthis.

In October 2016,US ships intercepted five Iranian arms shipments bound for Yemen.

The Gulf of Aden is one of the world’s busiest shipping routes connecting Europe to Asia and the Middle East, with Yemen to the north, Somalia to the south and the Arabian Sea to the east


Calm in Hodeidah as observers move in to monitor cease-fire

Sporadic clashes continued until about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, but residents said there was calm after that. (AFP)
Updated 19 December 2018
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Calm in Hodeidah as observers move in to monitor cease-fire

  • “Both parties said publicly they are abiding by the cease-fire,” a UN official said
  • The truce in Hodeidah officially began at midnight on Monday

JEDDAH: Truce monitoring observers will be deployed in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah on Wednesday as the first 24 hours of a UN-brokered cease-fire passed without incident.

The Redeployment Coordination Committee comprises members of the Yemeni government supported by the Saudi-led coalition, and Houthi militias backed by Iran, and is overseen by the UN. 

The head of the committee will report to the UN Security Council every week.

Deployment of the observers is the latest stage in a peace deal reached after talks last week in Sweden. Both sides in the conflict agreed to a cease-fire in Hodeidah and the withdrawal of their forces within 21 days.

“Both parties said publicly they are abiding by the cease-fire,” a UN official said on Tuesday.

Local authorities and police will run the city and its three port facilities under UN supervision, and the two sides are barred from bringing in reinforcements.

UN envoy Martin Griffith said the committee was expected to start its work swiftly “to translate the momentum built up in Sweden into achievements on the ground.”

The truce in Hodeidah officially began at midnight on Monday. Sporadic clashes continued until about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, but residents said there was calm after that. 

“We are hopeful that things will go back to the way they were and that there will be no aggression, no airstrikes and lasting security,” said one, Amani Mohammed.

Another resident, Mohammed Al-Saikel, said he was optimistic the cease-fire would pave the way for a broader truce. “We are hopeful about this cease-fire in Hodeidah and one for Yemen in general,” he said. “We will reach out in peace to whoever does the same.”

The UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution that asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to submit proposals by the end of the month on how to monitor the cease-fire.

The resolution, submitted by the UK, “calls on all parties to the conflict to take further steps to facilitate the unhindered flow of commercial and humanitarian supplies including food, fuel, medicine and other essential imports and humanitarian personnel into and across the country.”