UN silence over Tehran crimes is stunning — Riyadh

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JEDDAH: Iran’s supplying the Houthi militia with weapons and ammunition is the main cause of the suffering of the Yemeni people who have repeatedly rejected the Houthi coup against the legitimate Yemeni government, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative at the UN Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said at a UN session in response to the Iranian envoy’s speech.
“The world will not be fooled by Iran’s fake tears for the Yemeni victims. Saudi Arabia is stunned by the silence the Security Council keeps in the face of repeated, flagrant, Iranian violations of its resolutions and its continued smuggling of weapons and missiles to the Houthis,” said Al-Mouallimi.
“Those tears will not fool anyone, especially not the Yemeni citizens who realize that the Houthis’ ambition to get power and control over the country and Iran’s supplying them with weapons and ammunition are the main reason for the misery of the Yemeni people,” he said.
Underscoring Houthis’ continued shelling of Saudi towns and cities, Al-Mouallimi stressed the Saudi stance that while it respects the UN-brokered cease-fire in Yemen, it will take all necessary measures to protect its citizens and its borders against the Houthi aggression and long-rage missiles.
“Saudi Arabia reaffirms its commitment to respect the truce in Yemen, and to seek a permanent cease-fire based on full implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and return to the negotiations table on the basis of the legitimate references and the UN Yemen envoy’s roadmap for arriving at a peaceful political transition based on the GCC initiative,” he said.
The envoy’s speech comes amid reports by top US officials accusing Iran of supporting the Houthi militias.
Washington accused the Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen of firing surface-to-surface missiles at the destroyer USS Mason on at least two occasions in recent weeks.
A top US general, Joseph Votel, told a Washington think tank on Wednesday that “some of the technology that we’ve seen there are things that are associated with” Iran, though he acknowledged that “it’s not totally exclusive to them”.
Tehran denied reports from Washington that it played a part in the failed missile attacks on US naval vessels off Yemen, saying on Thursday that the claims were “false and paranoid”.
“The vague and contradictory remarks by American officials these past days are false, paranoid and inappropriate,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.
Meanwhile, Western and Iranian officials told Reuters that Tehran has stepped up weapon transfer to the Houthis, a development that threatens to prolong and intensify the 19-month-old war.
The increased pace of weapon supply, which officials said include missiles and small arms, in recent months could exacerbate a security problem for the US, which last week struck Houthi targets with cruise missiles following attacks on American ships.
Much of the recent smuggling activity happened through Oman, which neighbors Yemen, including via overland routes that take advantage of the porous border between the two countries, officials said.
“We have been concerned about the recent flow of weapons from Iran into Yemen and have conveyed those concerns to those who maintain relations with the Houthis, including the Omani government,” one US official told Reuters.
Oman denied that weapons are being smuggled across its border.
Yemeni and senior regional officials say the Omanis are not actively involved in the transfer of weapons, but tend to turn a blind eye and fail to aggressively crack down on the flow.
Omani Foreign Minister Yousef bin Alwi said: “There is no truth to this. No weapons have crossed our border and we are ready to clarify any suspicions if they arise.” The US and Western officials who spoke to Reuters about the recent provision of arms said it was based on intelligence they collected, but did not elaborate on the nature of their information.
They said the frequency of weapon transfer on known overland smuggling routes had increased notably; the scale of the shipments is however unclear.
Even US officials warning of Iran’s support for the Houthis acknowledge intelligence gaps in Yemen, where the US presence has been sharply curtailed since the start of the conflict.
All sources refused to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
“We are aware of a recent increased frequency of weapons shipments supplied by Iran, which are reaching the Houthis via the Omani border,” a Western diplomat familiar with the conflict told Reuters. “What they’re bringing in via Oman are anti-ship missiles, explosives…, money and personnel,” a US official said.
A senior Iranian diplomat confirmed that there has been a “sharp surge in Iran’s help to the Houthis in Yemen” since May; by “help” he meant weapons, training and money.
A senior Yemeni official was quoted by Reuters as saying that there has been an increase in smuggled weapons reaching the Houthis via Oman, but could not say definitively whether the weapons were Iranian.
Yemen’s Chief of Army Staff Mohammed Al-Maqdishi said in a recent interview that Oman should be “a lot stricter” when it comes to smuggling. “We are now heavily, and increasingly, guarding the border points,” he said.
A senior Yemeni military source told Reuters that one of the smuggling routes is through Shehen, a sort of no-man’s land and entry point in Mahra province, along the 288-km-long Yemeni-Omani border.
The source said the frequency of the smuggling increased “because Iran feels the Houthis are in a difficult situation and want to show them they’re with them till the end”.
Scattered clashes between rebels and pro-government forces undermined the fragile 72-hour cease-fire on Thursday as global pressure intensified for a lasting truce in a country where millions are homeless and hungry.
But the legitimate government said on Thursday that the Houthi militia had shelled the strategic city of Taiz.
“Taiz suffered heavy shelling … and its siege by the Houthis has continued,” Yemeni Gen. Samir Haj was quoted as saying by the state news agency Saba.
Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Thursday reiterated his government’s commitment to the truce despite Houthis’ violations.
In less than 24 hours since the UN-brokered cease-fire was announced, 17 violations by the Houthi militias were recorded in Najran and seven in Jazan.
Saudi Civil Defense on Thursday said a number of civilians from Jazan were injured by missiles fired from Yemen.
“The violations happened along the border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and specifically in the regions of Najran and Jazan,” a Civil Defense official said. “A variety of weapons were fired, including rockets and projectiles.”
Also Thursday, Abdullatif Al Zayani, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, discussed with Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, UN special envoy to Yemen, the latest developments, including the cease-fire and reviewed UN envoy’s efforts to convene peace talks and push the political process in the direction of the GCC Initiative, the output of the comprehensive national dialogue conference and the UN Security Council Resolution 2216.

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