Saudi-led coalition reiterates rejection of Yemen accusations
LONDON - The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen in support of the internationally recognised government reiterated its rejection of accusations that its weapons had been transferred to militants.
In a news conference February 18, coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki restated what he had described as “illogical” that the coalition supplied the Iran-allied Houthis, whom the group is fighting, and al-Qaeda with US-made weapons.
“The coalition continues to fight terrorist groups,” Malki said while detailing numerous operations against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Malki used a presentation to list seized items and pictures of weapons found with al-Qaeda militants, including Iran-made equipment.
Malki was responding to a CNN report that claimed: “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.”
“This is absolutely false and the coalition has issued a statement in this regard,” Malki said.
“The report relied on this picture taken from a regional TV channel to cement the mental image that the coalition has given weapons to members of AQAP. You can see that the picture shows Saudi troops using TOW weapons.
“As we said, we deny that Saudi Arabia or the UAE gave any weapons to al-Qaeda or the Houthis.”
The coalition would continue to fight both the Houthi rebels and jihadist groups but supported a political solution to the conflict, Malki said.
“In 2014, in collaboration with the United Nations, the Peace and [National] Partnership Agreement was signed by the Yemeni parties but the Houthi militias reneged on it and overthrew the legitimate government on September 21, 2014,” he said
“The efforts continued in various talks in Geneva 1, Geneva 2 and talks in Kuwait, which lasted more than 100 days and finally the agreement in Stockholm. The coalition countries continued to support the political process and end the coup.”
He also said Houthi rebels breached the UN-brokered ceasefire in Hodeidah “more than 1,400 times” in the past two months.
Malki detailed humanitarian aid and rescue operations by the coalition and said Saudi Arabia has supported Yemen’s population with more than $13.1 billion in aid since 2014.
He said the coalition had given more than 40,000 permits for vehicles, ships and aircrafts delivering aid to Yemen since the start of the operations and accused the Houthis of delaying the docking of ships carrying food and fuel for weeks at a time
Malki presented photographs purportedly showing a Houthi drone base across the street from a school and residential buildings, saying the rebels were using the population as “human shields.”
He presented video footage of a target being struck without affecting nearby civilians, saying coalition strikes “are accurate to avoid harming civilians.”