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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Britain slams Iran for arming Houthi rebels in Yemen

Britain's minister for the Middle East called on the UN to investigate reports Iran was providing the Houthis with ballistic missiles

Alistair Burt said the UN should investigate reports Iran is supplying the Houthis with ballistic missiles. Galen Clarke/The National
Alistair Burt said the UN should investigate reports Iran is supplying the Houthis with ballistic missiles. Galen Clarke/The National

Britain has condemned Iran for supplying ballistic missiles to Houthi militias and other rebel forces in Yemen, giving new support to Saudi Arabia after Riyadh airport was targeted in an attack last week.

“I am deeply concerned by reports that Iran has provided the Houthis with ballistic missiles, which threaten regional security and prolong the conflict. It is essential that the UN investigates these reports,” said Alistair Burt, the minister for the Middle East at the Foreign Office. “The UK Government condemned the Houthi missile attack on Riyadh on 4 November, which deliberately targeted a civilian area and was intercepted over an international airport.

The Saudi-led Coalition released a statement providing details of Iranian support to the Houthis in Yemen, including provision of ballistic missiles.

London has steadily strengthened its warnings that Iranian involvement in Yemen, specifically shipments of arms by sea and across Oman, was perpetuating the conflict with dire consequence of the Yemeni population.

Mr Burt said those concerns had been raised with the Iranian government. The provision of weapons to the Houthis and forces aligned to former President Saleh is contrary to UN Security Council Resolutions.

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Saudi crown prince says Iran support to Houthis could be act of war

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has condemned Iran's supply of missiles to Yemeni rebels as an act of war against the kingdom.

In a phone call with British foreign minister Boris Johnson, Prince Mohammed said Tehran's arming of the Houthis was a direct military aggression towards Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom intercepted a Houthis-launched ballistic missile north-east of Riyadh on Saturday evening. Fragments of the missile landed in an uninhabited area.

The coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen aims to restore the internationally-recognised government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi to power in Sanaa.

"The coalition's command considers this a blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime,” Spa quoted the alliance as saying.

The coalition also said the kingdom had a "legitimate right" to defend its territory and people and reserved the right to respond to Iran according to “international law and based upon the right of self-defence”, Spa reported.

Mr Burt also called on the rebel forces to end their destabilising campaign.

“There is a critical need to end the conflict in Yemen which has created the world’s most serious humanitarian crisis and poses risks to regional security and stability,” he said. “There remains a desperate need for a political solution to the Yemen conflict to help end the suffering of the Yemeni people, counter destabilising interference and end attacks upon neighbouring countries.

“We call upon all countries in the region to support that goal. We will also continue to support our partners in the region to protect themselves against security threats.”