Anti-Houthi coalition denies supplying weapons to rebels, AQAP

Coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki described the allegations as "illogical."
Monday 11/02/2019
Sudi-led coalition spokesman, Colonel Turki al-Malki, speaks during a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 20, 2019. (Reuters)
Sudi-led coalition spokesman, Colonel Turki al-Malki, speaks during a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 20, 2019. (Reuters)

LONDON - The Saudi-led coalition fighting in support of the internationally recognised government of Yemen dismissed allegations it has supplied the Iran-allied Houthis, who the coalition is currently fighting, and al-Qaeda, with US-made weapons.

Coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki described the allegations as "illogical", according to a statement carried on the official Saudi Press Agency and reported by Saudi media on February 10.

"Al-Malki strongly denied those claims and stressed the Coalition countries' commitment to confront and defeat the illegal Houthi takeover of Yemen, in addition to decisively confronting other terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)", SPA said.

The spokesman said that what was shown in media reports were damaged military vehicles that had been transferred outside of Yemen. One hundred and fifty-five military vehicles have been transferred, and 55 more will follow.

He stressed that the coalition "takes seriously any claims of any other party obtaining any weapons of any kind."

“The Coalition has cooperated with allies and partners in identifying and targeting a number of lethal AQAP terrorists, and Coalition countries have cleared AQAP from a number of cities they controlled due to the power vacuum created by the Houthi coup.” The coalition spokesmen said.

“As a result of those and other successful operations with the United States support, AQAP no longer holds any territory in Yemen. The Coalition remains committed to vigorously countering AQAP and will continue to work with international partners in this regard,” he added.

The strong-worded denial from the coalition spokesmen comes in response to a CNN report that alleges that “Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners had supplied American-made weapons to al Qaeda-linked fighters, hard-line Salafi militias and other factions battling in Yemen.”

However, following Al-Maliki’s statement, CNN published a report carrying the spokesmen’s statement’s and stressed that its initial report, “did not allege the coalition gave the weapons directly to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, nor to Iran. CNN reported the weapons made their way into the hands of Iranian-backed rebels.”

Meanwhile, The Saudi-Led coalition in Yemen launched a targeting operation in the Houthi-held capital, Sanaa, Saudi state TV reported on February 9.

The operation targeted a location for storing and preparing drones and launch vehicles in Sana’a.

According to a statement from the coalition, “that the operation was an extension of two previous operations last month to target the Houthi rebels' "network" of drone capabilities and logistical facilities "in addition to locations of foreign experts."

The coalition added that the operation conformed to international law and that measures were taken to protect civilians.

The Houthis have been launching frequent attacks against rival forces since the start of the coalition's military campaign in Yemen in March 2015, which have become increasingly frequent as the conflict has continued. After beginning a campaign of ballistic missile attacks on Saudi and pro-government targets in late 2017, the Houthis have added drones to their arsenal, attacking targets both in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.