Arab coalition forces intercept, destroy Houthi boat rigged with explosives

Arab coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Malki said the Houthi boat rigged with explosives was intercepted and destroyed. (AFP)
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Updated 24 February 2020

Arab coalition forces intercept, destroy Houthi boat rigged with explosives

  • Explosives-laden boat ‘a threat to regional and international security’

MUKALLA, Yemen: Saudi-led coalition naval forces in the Red Sea thwarted an attempt by Iran-backed Houthi militias to carry out a terror attack on Sunday using an unmanned boat packed with explosives.
The vessel was launched from Hodeidah province in western Yemen, but tracked and destroyed, said coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki.

“The coalition navy detected on Sunday morning an imminent hostile, terrorist attack in Southern Red Sea using a remote-controlled boat set to explode, by the terrorist Iran-backed Houthi militia,” Al-Malki said in statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

It was the third time in three months that the Houthis had attempted such an attack, a senior coast guard officer told Arab News.

The planned attack was a threat to security and maritime trade, Al-Maliki said, and the use of Hodeidah was a “glaring violation” of the UN-brokered Stockholm peace agreement in December 2018.

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Three naval mines were also discovered and destroyed in Bab-El-Mandeb strait and the southern Red Sea during the past 24 hours, bringing the number of detected naval mines deployed by the Houthi militia to 150.

“The Joint Forces Command of the Coalition continues to implement rigorous measures against this terrorist militia to neutralize and destroy such capabilities that threaten regional and international security,” Al-Malki said.

Later on Sunday, coalition warplanes carried out several airstrikes on the Houthi-held capital Sanaa, hitting the presidential palace and other military sites. Al-Maliki said the airstrikes had destroyed Houthi sites used to store ballistic missiles and drones.

Meanwhile, the coalition and Yemen’s internationally recognized government have intensified security measures around main sea and land entry posts in Yemen to prevent Iran from smuggling arms to the Houthis.

Hundreds more Yemeni coast guard soldiers have been deployed off the Yemeni coasts, and even local fishermen have been recruited.

“They are now helping us monitor the sea. They alert us about any ship or boat suspected of carrying weapons to the Houthis,” a coast guard officer in the Red Sea Khokha district told Arab News.

Vehicle inspections have also been stepped up at dozens of army and security checkpoints, and several arms shipments have already been intercepted.


Iraq’s foreign minister makes first visit to Iran

Updated 26 September 2020

Iraq’s foreign minister makes first visit to Iran

  • Iran sees neighboring Iraq as a possible route to bypass US sanctions that President Donald Trump re-imposed in 2018

TEHRAN: Iraq’s foreign minister arrived Saturday in Tehran for bilateral talks with senior Iranian officials, according to the state-run news agency.
IRNA reported that Fuad Hussein planned to meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani, in what marked his first visit to the Iranian capital.
Zarif visited Baghdad in mid-July, when he met with Hussein and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. It was Zarif’s first visit to Iraq since a US airstrike in January killed a top Iranian general, Qassim Soleimani, outside Baghdad’s international airport. The strike catapulted Iraq to the brink of a US-Iran proxy war that could have destabilized the Middle East.
After Zarif’s trip, the Iraqi premier visited Iran in July.
The report did not elaborate on the main reasons behind the top Iraqi diplomat’s two-day trip to Tehran.
Iran sees neighboring Iraq as a possible route to bypass US sanctions that President Donald Trump re-imposed in 2018 after pulling the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
Last year, Iran’s exports to Iraq amounted to nearly $9 billion, the official IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday. It said the two nations will discuss increasing the amount to $20 billion.
Before the current global pandemic, some 5 million Iranian pilgrims annually brought in nearly $5 billion visiting Iraq’s Shiite holy sites.
Iran has seen the worst outbreak in the region, with more than 443,000 thousand confirmed cases and at least 25,300 deaths.
A news website affiliated with Iranian state TV, yjc.ir, reported that Iran canceled all its flights to Iraqi cities until the religious holiday of Arbaeen, due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The holiday marks the end of the forty days of mourning that follow annually on the death anniversary of the seventh-century Muslim leader Hussein, who was killed at the Battle of Karbala during the tumultuous first century of Islam’s history.
Iran fought an eight-year war with Iraq that killed nearly 1 million people on both sides, after former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded in the early 1980s.