AL-MUKALLA: The internationally recognized government of Yemen has accused Iran of fueling the country’s civil war by supplying Houthi militias with weaponry and military know-how.
Following the accusations, Yemeni officials repeated demands for Iran to face punishment for meddling in the country’s affairs.
It came as the US Navy announced on Sunday that it had seized a new arms shipment of thousands of weapons concealed on a vessel in the Arabia Sea.
The shipment was sent by Iran and was destined for Houthi militias, a US defense official told The Associated Press.
Muammar Al-Eryani, Yemeni minister of information, culture and tourism, said that the shipment is “further evidence” of Iran’s support for the Houthis and their use of the militia as a “tool to destabilize the region.”
He said: “This confirms the continued smuggling of Iranian weapons to the militia and using them (the Houthis) as a tool to implement their expansionist plan, spreading chaos and terrorism in the region and threatening international interests.
“We call on the international community, the UN and the permanent members of the UN Security Council to take a clear and explicit stance against the continuation of Iranian interference in Yemen.”
For more than a decade, successive Yemeni governments have accused Iran of supporting the Houthis militarily and financially by smuggling advanced weaponry, and more recently, sending Iraqi and Lebanese fighters into the country.
Yemeni officials believe that military expertise and weapons from Iran have shored up Houthi strength and firepower depleted by years of fighting and Arab coalition airstrikes.
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“Unfortunately, as we approach the conclusion of Ramadan, instead of ending the conflict, the Houthis are still escalating it. And this is evidenced by the interception of another cache of smuggled arms coming from Iran going to Yemen,” the Embassy of Yemen in Washington, D.C said on Twitter on Sunday, adding: “The Iranian regime should stop supporting and supplying arms to the Houthis, both foreign procured or domestically produced.”
Western diplomats and officials have also shared the same concerns about the role of Iran in undermining security in Yemen and stoking conflict.
“That the US Navy seized another shipment of Iranian weapons bound for Yemen should come as no surprise. Iran has sought to fuel civil war in Yemen since at least 2013,” Tom Cotton, a US senator, said on Twitter