Yemeni rebels deny US charges that Iran is arming them
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Yemeni rebels deny US charges that Iran is arming them

Houthis say Washington ‘fabricating lies’ to deflect from backlash to White House’s changed policy on Jerusalem

Armed Houthi rebels ride in the back of a truck during a rally in the capital Sanaa on July 24, 2015. (AFP/Mohammed Huwais)
Armed Houthi rebels ride in the back of a truck during a rally in the capital Sanaa on July 24, 2015. (AFP/Mohammed Huwais)

A Yemeni rebel spokesman has heavily criticized US charges that Iran is funneling missiles to the Shiite rebels in Yemen, known as Houthis.

Muhammad Abdul Salam said late Friday on Twitter that Washington is “fabricating lies” to escape the repercussions of its recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that triggered protests in the Arab and Muslim world including in war-torn Yemen.

On Thursday, US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley unveiled what she said was “undeniable” evidence proving that Iran is funneling missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen in violation of international law.

At a news conference in a hanger at a military base in Washington, Nikki Haley presented recently declassified evidence including segments of missiles launched at Saudi Arabia from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen.

“It was made in Iran then sent to Houthi militants in Yemen,” Haley said. “From there it was fired at a civilian airport with the potential to kill hundreds of innocent civilians in Saudi Arabia.”

The missiles prove “blatant violations” of UN Security Council resolutions while the international community was “looking the other way” because of the nuclear deal, Haley said. The US will now rally other nations to push back on Iran’s behavior, she added.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley points to previously classified missile segments she says prove Iran violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231 by providing the Houthi rebels in Yemen with arms, during a press conference at Joint Base Anacostia in Washington, DC, on December 14, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

Iran immediately dismissed the evidence as “fabricated,” saying the accusations were baseless.

“This purportedly evidence, put on public display today, is as much fabricated as the one presented on some other occasions earlier,” said Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman at Iran’s mission to the United Nations.

Iran “categorically” rejects the accusation “as unfounded and, at the same time, irresponsible, provocative and destructive,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

The Iranian mission said the accusations leveled by Haley were intended to divert attention from the devastating war in Yemen being led by US ally Saudi Arabia, and indicated “unbridled support for the Israeli regime.”

Israel’s UN ambassador said Haley’s presentation was further indication of a need to contain Iran’s missile program, which Jerusalem has long argued is a lacuna in the nuclear deal.

A confidential report to the Security Council this month said UN officials had examined debris from missiles fired at Saudi Arabia that pointed to a “common origin,” but there was no firm conclusion on whether they came from an Iranian supplier.

The report from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, which was obtained by AFP, said the officials were still analyzing the information.

In this January 3, 2017 photo, tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels chant slogans during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters into battlefronts to fight pro-government forces, in Sana’a, Yemen. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

A separate team of UN experts who inspected the missile fragments during a visit to Riyadh last month found a possible link to an Iranian manufacturer, the Shahid Bagheri Industrial Group, which is on the UN sanctions blacklist.

The experts, who report to the sanctions committee, found a component marked by a logo similar to that of the banned group, which is a subsidiary of the Iranian Aerospace Industries Organization.

Haley has called on the UN Security Council to take a tougher stance toward Iran, accusing Tehran of making illegal arms deals in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels in Yemen imposed a blockade of Yemen’s air and sea ports and borders after the missile was fired at Riyadh, citing concerns that weapons were being smuggled into Yemen.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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