Saudi Arabia demands UN Security Council action on Iran over Yemen
London - Saudi Arabia welcomed a UN report indicating Iran’s support for the Houthi rebels, at war in Yemen with a Saudi-led coalition supporting the internationally recognised government.
“Saudi Arabia welcomes the UN report that asserted that the hostile Iranian intervention and its support for the terrorist Houthi militia with advanced and dangerous missile capabilities threatens the security and stability of the kingdom and the region,” a Saudi Press Agency statement said.
The statement concerned a ballistic missile launched November 4 from the Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen targeting King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh. The missile, said by US officials to be of Iranian origin, was intercepted by Saudi air defence.
The Saudi statement came after US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley presented what she described as irrefutable proof of Iran supplying Houthi rebels with weaponry.
Haley, at a news conference December 14 in Washington, said evidence included remnants of the missile that targeted Riyadh’s airport as well as a drone and an anti-tank weapon recovered by the coalition.
“These are Iranian made, these are Iranian sent and these were Iranian given,” Haley said. “You will see us build a coalition to really push back against Iran and what they’re doing.”
Iran denied the accusations but recent statements paint a different picture.
At a conference, December 14 in Tehran, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said he expected victory in Yemen soon.
“Over the past two years, we have been witnessing constant victories in Yemen as well as the defeat of the efforts of the Islamic Revolution enemies,” Major-General Mohammad Ali Jafari said. “We need to consolidate and expand such victories.”
The issue of Iran arming the Houthis is nothing new. A 2015 UN report stated that Iran’s arming of Houthi rebels dated to 2009, the early years of the insurgency. The report included findings of an investigation into the 2013 seizure by Yemeni authorities of an Iranian ship, which was found carrying weapons.
The conflict in Yemen began when Shia Houthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh overran Sana’a in September 2014 and seized most of the country. A Saudi-led Arab coalition, supported by the United States and the United Kingdom, began an air campaign against the rebels in March 2015.
Saleh was killed December 4 by the Houthis in an attack on his motorcade two days after he said that he was willing to “turn a new page” with the Saudi-led coalition.
In efforts to bring stability to Yemen, leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have talked with the head of Yemen’s al-Islah party, despite its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement banned in the kingdom and the Emirates.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan met with Mohammed al-Yadomi, al-Islah chairman and secretary-general, December 13 in Riyadh, in what the Saudi Press Agency described as an opportunity to “review the situation in Yemen and efforts to restore security and stability for the Yemeni people.”
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the Riyadh talks were an attempt at uniting “efforts to defeat Iran and its Houthi militias.” Gargash addressed his country’s turbulent past with the movement, particularly over its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
He said al-Islah party recently announced that it had severed its ties with the “terrorist organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood,” describing it as an opportunity to test the intentions of the movement in the interest of Yemen.
“We work with flexibility and our goal is the security and stability of the region,” Gargash said.