Evidence of Iranian support to Houthis revealed
LONDON - Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi highlighted the “human tragedy” in Yemen and called for greater humanitarian assistance at the UN General Assembly after issuing renewed calls for the Houthis to lay down their arms and return to negotiations.
“I am open to all efforts seeking a political solution,” Hadi said on his way to the United Nations after re-establishing his government in the Yemeni port city of Aden. He called on the Houthis “to end their coup, surrender weapons… and return to the dialogue table, to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2216”, which calls on the Houthi fighters to withdraw from territories they have occupied.
This renewed diplomatic push comes as the Saudi-led Gulf coalition has pushed Houthi fighters back in a number of regions and is on the verge of retaking the strategic central Marib region. Marib, an important energy hub, would serve as the launch pad for an eventual offensive to liberate the capital Sana’a.
The Gulf coalition’s latest advance in the province saw the flags of Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia fly over the Marib dam on September 29th. The Houthis control of less than 15% of the province, said Brigadier-General Murad Turaiq, the head of the Yemeni military in Marib.
Turaiq said the Gulf coalition continued to gain momentum and support, while the Houthis have been pushed back. “Fighters from the Murad and Abeed tribes joined the fight against the Houthis in the battle for the dam. In addition to that, more than 1,000 Yemeni soldiers have also returned from training in Saudi Arabia to help pro-Hadi forces,” he said.
Elsewhere in the country, an alleged Gulf coalition air strike on a wedding party in the Red Sea port city of Mocha killed at least 130 people.
The Gulf coalition denied responsibility for the attack.
Local media reports said the coalition could confront Houthi forces in the neighbouring al-Jawf province after Marib, closing in on Sana’a from two sides. The northern al-Jawf governorate also borders Saudi Arabia.
Recapturing the region from the Houthis would significantly lessen pressure on the Saudi border and represent an important turning point in the battle against the Houthis.
Saudi Arabia has been one of Hadi’s main backers, with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud reiterating Riyadh’s support for Yemeni “legitimacy”. “We in the coalition stand firmly, with all our strength, by your side… to protect your country,” he wrote in a letter addressed to Hadi.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Hadi reiterated Saudi Arabia’s warning regarding Iran’s backing for the Houthis.
“We find ourselves mixed in this battle, this fight for the country and the legitimacy of the state to ensure that the country does not fall into the hands of Iran, which would like to see the destruction of the country,” Hadi said.
Although Iran has publicly denied backing the Houthis, Marib Governor Sultan al-Arada claimed that Yemen has conclusive proof of Tehran’s backing for the group after seizing equipment at Marib dam from retreating Houthis.
“There can be no doubt that the Iranian support for the Houthis is obvious, especially in light of the equipment we have found which bears clear marks [which point to this],” he told the Saudi Arabian Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
The coalition said on September 30th it had previously seized an Iranian fishing boat in the Arabian Sea loaded with weapons destined for the Houthis.
The coalition said it had captured 18 anti-armour Concourse shells, 54 BGM17 anti-tank missiles, 15 shell battery kits, four firing guidance systems and other logistical apparatus.
The Gulf coalition’s air superiority, along with the deployment of heavy artillery, tanks and armoured personnel carriers, has been a major factor in its recent successes against the Houthi rebels. Although the fighting is ongoing, with the Houthis on the back foot, many are beginning to look into the post-conflict future of Yemen. The humanitarian situation in the country is dire, with Hadi calling on world leaders to do more to help the Yemeni people.
“This requires greater effort internationally so as to alleviate human suffering and to ensure that the Yemeni crisis is not forgotten. I would like to take this opportunity to address and appeal to donor countries to ensure that they provide the promised assistance,” Hadi said.