Yemen backs Iranian arms embargo extension

Yemen backs Iranian arms embargo extension
Security forces loyal to Yemen's Shiite Huthi rebels perform a salute during a gathering in Sanaa on August 8, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 11 August 2020

Yemen backs Iranian arms embargo extension

Yemen backs Iranian arms embargo extension
  • Weapons ban expiry will give Tehran ‘free rein to cause chaos in region,’ says minister

AL-MUKALLA: The internationally recognized government of Yemen has demanded the UN to extend the arms embargo on Iran, saying that Iranian arms have fueled the conflict in the country.

Yemen’s Information Minister Muammar Al-Aryani said war-torn Yemen and other Arab countries have borne the brunt of Iranian expansionism through proxy conflicts.

“Yemen and Arab countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Syria have paid heavy prices for hostile policies adopted by the Iranian regime and the Revolutionary Guards,” he said.

Iran’s supply of weapons to Houthis in Yemen and other militias in the region had fueled the war, he added.

“Selling and supplying arms to Iran inflames conflicts in the region through the smuggling of weapons to sectarian militias and terrorist organizations like the Houthis, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda and Daesh.”

His appeal came as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) called for an extension to the embargo, just two months before it is set to expire.

The GCC sent a letter to the UN Security Council urging an extension to the deal that has prevented Iran from buying foreign-made weapons, including jets, tanks and warships.

The GCC said Iran had “failed to cease or desist from armed interventions in neighboring countries, directly, and through organizations and movements armed and trained by the country.”

Even before the Houthi takeover of Sanaa in late 2014, consecutive Yemeni governments accused Iran of fueling the conflict by providing rebels with advanced weapons, military training and financial support.

The government and Arab coalition have intensified attacks on Iran in recent years after intercepting arms shipments to Yemen.

Al-Aryani warned that lifting the embargo could give the Iranians free rein to cause chaos in the region.

“We warn against lifting the embargo, which would be a free gift to spread chaos and terrorism in the region, and would provide Iran with financial resources to expand its activities, and threaten the security and stability of the region and the world,” the minister said.

In a recent speech during Eid Al-Adha, Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi renewed his commitment to challenging Iran’s designs in Yemen by defeating the Houthis, and liberating the capital and other areas under their control.

He accused the rebel group of “turning Yemen into a den of Iranian extremism and terrorism.”

When the US killed Qassem Soleimani in January, the Yemeni government praised the strike, accusing the Al-Quds Force commander of spearheading Iranian military activities in Yemen.

Yemeni military and political analysts said that advanced weaponry supplied by Iran has shored up the Houthis on the battlefield, encouraging them to reject calls for peace.

“The Iran-backed Houthis are the main engine of the war. They expanded across Yemen. Stopping the flow of Iranian weapons to them is the most important step for stopping the war in Yemen,” Yasser Al-Yafae, an Aden-based political analyst, told Arab News.

He added that the Houthis would likely accept peace deals if their arsenal of weapons is depleted.

Fighting has raged in recent days on the front line in several contested provinces across Yemen.

Yemen’s Defense Ministry said army troops and allied tribesmen pushed back Houthi attempts to gain ground in the provinces of Marib and Al-Bayda.

Fighting intensified despite repeated appeals from the UN and local health workers for a humanitarian truce to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Aden-based national coronavirus committee reported seven new cases, three deaths and three recoveries in the provinces of Hadramout and Taiz on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 1808, including 515 deaths and 913 recoveries.


Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce
In this file photo taken on November 19, 2020, a Libyan stands in front of a school, which was damaged during fighting between rival factions, in the capital Tripoli's suburb of Ain Zara. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2021

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce
  • Ankara and Moscow appear intent on defending their interests under any final settlement

TRIPOLI: Foreign forces ignored a deadline to pull out of Libya as scheduled on Saturday under a UN-backed cease-fire deal, highlighting the fragility of peace efforts after a decade of conflict.

Satellite images broadcast by CNN show a trench running tens of kilometers dug by “Russian mercenaries” near the frontline coastal city of Sirte, as main foreign protagonists Ankara and Moscow appear intent on defending their interests under any final settlement.
An unidentified US intelligence official, quoted by the American news network, said there was “no intent or movement by either Turkish or Russian forces to abide by the UN-brokered agreement.”
“This has the potential to derail an already fragile peace process and cease-fire. It will be a really difficult year ahead,” he said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged all “regional and international actors to respect the provisions” of the Oct. 23 cease-fire accord that set out a withdrawal within three months of all foreign troops and mercenaries.
That deadline passed on Saturday, with no movement announced or observed on the ground.
The UN estimates there are still some 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries in Libya helping the warring factions, the UN-recognized Government of National Accord in Tripoli and military strongman Khalifa Haftar in the east. The GNA has received military support from Turkey. Haftar has the backing of Russia.
Guterres called on all parties to implement the terms of the cease-fire “without delay,” something he noted “includes ensuring the departure of all foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya, and the full and unconditional respect of the Security Council arms embargo,” which has been in place since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted and killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi.

HIGHLIGHT

The UN estimates there are still some 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries in Libya helping the warring factions.

Any withdrawal or end to foreign interference “does not depend on the Libyans but on the outside powers,” said Khaled Al-Montasser, professor of international relations at Tripoli University.
Turkey on Friday welcomed a deal reached at UN-backed talks for Libya’s warring factions to set up an interim executive to rule the North African country until polls in December.
Turkey has backed the GNA with military advisers, materiel and mercenaries, repelling an advance on Tripoli by Haftar’s forces, and it also has a military base in Al-Watiya on the border with Tunisia under a 2019 military accord.
Last December, parliament in Ankara extended by 18 months its authorization for Turkey’s troop deployment in Libya, in apparent disregard of the cease-fire deal.
“The mercenaries are unlikely to leave Libya so long as the countries which have engaged them have not guaranteed their interests in the new transitional phase,” said Montasser, referring to the multiple tracks of UN-sponsored talks currently underway.
“Their presence keeps alive the threat of military confrontation at any moment, while the current calm staying in place seems uncertain,” he said.
Most of the foreign forces are concentrated around Sirte, at Al-Jufra airbase held by Haftar’s forces 500 km south of Tripoli and further west in Al-Watiya.