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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Saudi Arabia: Iran blocking peace in Yemen, smuggling weapons to Houthis

Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir says Tehran is the 'greatest sponsor' of the rebels and their allies, forces loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir attends a meeting of member states of the coalition in support of the legitimate Yemen government, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 29, 2017. Faisal Al Nasser / Reuters
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir attends a meeting of member states of the coalition in support of the legitimate Yemen government, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 29, 2017. Faisal Al Nasser / Reuters

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that Iran is blocking peace efforts in Yemen and continues to smuggle weapons to Houthi rebels, against whom a Saudi-led Arab coalition is fighting in support of the internationally-recognised government of president Adrabu Mansur Hadi.

Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir said Tehran was the “greatest sponsor” of the rebels and their allies, forces loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"Iran is destroying all attempts to find a solution in Yemen, which has led to the failure of all political negotiations between the government and these militias," Mr Al Jubeir said at a summit in Riyadh of foreign ministers and military officials from countries including Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Morocco and Yemen.

"These militias would not have continued operations without the support of the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world — the Iranian regime.”

Mr Al Jubeir said the actions of the Houthi rebels and Saleh forces had “imposed military action”.

“When we talk about Yemen and our alliance to support the legitimate [government], we have to remember the war of the Houthi and Saleh militias on the stability of the country, their kidnapping of it, the crimes they have committed against the Yemeni people, their offensive on Yemen’s neighbouring countries — including Saudi Arabia and the UAE — and their continuous threats against the stability of the region,” he said.

“This behaviour has kidnapped the will of the people and imposed military action after continues violations and assaults that have not yet stopped.”

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Mr Al Jubeir said the rebels’ actions had robbed more than 4 million children of an education and childhood, adding that they have recruited more than 1,000 minors to their ranks.

“We are facing militias that have ruined childhoods and caused poverty, hunger and sickness,” he said, adding: “They have targeted cities and civilians, destroyed homes and planted landmines that have resulted in the painful loss of lives."

“Faced with these facts, crimes and violations, our coalition is increasingly determined to save Yemen and drain the springs of terrorism."

The Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in support of Mr Hadi's government in March 2015 after the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa.

The UN, meanwhile, has described Yemen as the world's number one humanitarian crisis.

More than 8,650 people have been killed in the conflict and around 58,600 others have been wounded, many of them civilians. Also, since April, a cholera outbreak has claimed more than 2,100 lives.

The Arab coalition summit comes a week after US secretary of state Rex Tillerson met with officials in the capital of Saudi Arabia for talks that focused mainly on Iran’s role in the Middle East.

He was in Riyadh for the launch of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, which aims to promote co-operation between the two countries in the fight against terrorism in the region and in the rebuilding of areas of Iraq destroyed in the battle against ISIL.

He said following the meeting that Iran-backed Iraqi militias and their Iranian advisers must "go home" now that the fight against ISIL is almost over.

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