Houthi attack Saudi Arabia, US seizes weapons bound for Yemen

The US Navy announced on Sunday it seized an arms shipment of thousands of assault weapons, machines guns and sniper rifles hidden aboard a ship in the Arabian Sea, apparently bound for Yemen to support the country’s Houthi militias.

Tuesday 11/05/2021
A file picture shows Saudi soldiers standing guard from behind a sandbag barricade at the border with Yemen in Jazan, Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
A file picture shows Saudi soldiers standing guard from behind a sandbag barricade at the border with Yemen in Jazan, Saudi Arabia. (AFP)

CAIRO – Saudi Arabia’s civil defense said on Twitter early on Tuesday that a Houthi projectile had fallen in a border village in Jazan in the south of the kingdom, resulting in some damage to a house and cars but causing no injuries.

On Monday, the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi forces in Yemen said that it had intercepted an explosives-laden boat south of the Red Sea and destroyed an explosive drone that was fired at Abha’s airport.

A military spokesman for the Houthis wrote on Twitter later on Monday that the militias had hit an important military target at Saudi Arabia’s Abha international airport using a drone.

Yemen’s war began in September 2014, when the Houthis seized the capital Sana’a and began a march south to try to seize the entire country.

Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates and other countries, entered the war alongside Yemen’s internationally recognised government in March 2015.

Iran has backed the Houthis, who have been harassing Saudi Arabia with missile fire and drone attacks.

The US Navy announced on Sunday it seized an arms shipment of thousands of assault weapons, machines guns and sniper rifles hidden aboard a ship in the Arabian Sea, apparently bound for Yemen to support the country’s Houthi militias.

Weapons from Iran

An American defence official said that the Navy’s initial investigation found the vessel came from Iran, again tying the Islamic Republic to arming the Houthis despite a United Nations arms embargo.

Iran’s mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though Tehran has denied in the past giving the militias weapons.

The seizure, one of several amid the years-long war in Yemen, comes as the US and others try to end a conflict that spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.

The arms shipment, described as sizeable, shows that the war may still have far to run.

Based on interviews with the crew and material investigated on board, the sailors determined the vessel came from Iran, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

The seizure marks just the latest in the Arabian Sea or Gulf of Aden involving weapons likely bound to Yemen.

The seizures began in 2016 and have continued intermittently throughout the war, which has seen the Houthis fire ballistic missiles and use drones later linked to Iran.

Yemen is awash with small arms that have been smuggled into poorly controlled ports over years of conflict.

Since 2015, the UN Security Council has imposed an arms embargo on the Houthis. Despite that, UN experts warn “an increasing body of evidence suggests that individuals or entities in the Islamic Republic of Iran supply significant volumes of weapons and components to the Houthis.”