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Houthis "forbid" UN envoy's return to Sanaa

BreakingNews @en di

Al-Samad, head of houthis leader, has affirmed it is forbidden to UN envoy Ahmed to come back to Sanaa, indeed UN must choose another envoy, who is respectful of Yemeni people. This statement has been followed after the important and relevant incident, which involved Ahmed during the trip to Sanaa. This declaration was considered as a principle of tensions between warring parties and it was considered as a damage to his efforts to peace. UN Envoy, Ahmed, was condemned of not being neutral as he is supposed to be and also not being respectful of UN resolutions. This is not the first attack personally direct to UN envoy. In fact, it is important observing there was a huge manifestation after shooting to UN envoy convoy. His operation to guarantee a discussion table  between warring parties failed.



Yemeni army readies plans to liberate cities under Houthis control

BreakingNews @en di

Chief of Staff of Yemeni armed forces, al-Maqdashi has been waiting for nod of minister in order to conduct some military operations in Houthis controlled areas. Al-Madqashi, in fact, has said they have drawn up a plan to set free the remaining cities from Houthis controll, including Houdaydah city port. This plan depends on the ability of military forces in combating and carrying out operations. There are two different situations: from one side Houthis and rebels are going through a period of weakness and disintegration, on the other side, the Yemeni National forces are taking control over some presidential buildings and check points. Their stronger positions are in Taiz and Nehm, where national forces have imposed a siege.



U.N. envoy: we succeeded in preventing a military operations in Houdaydah

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During the session organized by Security Council, it was reported by Ahmed, UN envoy to Yemen, people are constantly attacked by Houthis Militias and in addition to this he has elencaed several zones, where there is a spread of landmines and weapons, used by Houthis Militias loyal to Ousted President. Meanwhile, O’Brien, head of office for Humanitarian affairs and Emergency Relief Coordination has said many civilians are being killed due to war and cholera disease. He has also said by reports one third of victims are children. The economy is decreasing and fuel and food prices are constantly increasing. Just one important event of this beginning week was prevention of a military operations in Houdaydah.

Houthi militants fire shots at UN envoy convoy in Sanaa Capital

BreakingNews @en di

Houthis militants have fired shots at UN envoy Ahmed, even if there is still no specification about it. The UN envoy has left to Sanaa, today on earlier morning, in order to meet and discuss with the main leaders of Houthis militants to achieve an agreement and establish the ceasefire. Actually, according to some members of Houthis, it was reported, leader of Houthis, al-Sammad has said UN envoy is not neutral, but he is acting in compliance with orders from coalition countries. The actual aim of UN envoy, Ahmed, was to guarantee a dialogue between two warring parties either in Kuwait or in Geneva. The leader of Houthis would have affirmed the request, by UN envoy Ahmed, was still under consideration before his coming to Sanaa.

Yemeni president says Houthis have "sold themeselves" to Iran.

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President Hadi accused militia behind the coup in Yemen to “have sold themeselves to the Iranian project to control Yemen and target the entire region. The project is confirmed by the continuos sending of weapons and military advisers form Iran to Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement to support them in the civil war. Moreover a Iranian offcial affirmed that Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Qods Force, met top IRGC officials in Teheran to look at ways to “empower” the Houthis. Meanwhile the Arab coalition sent military and logistical reinforcements to support the joint forces in the western coast.

Yemen announces reopening of Al-Mokha port after its liberation from Houthis

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Yemen’s Deputy Minister of Transport Nasser Sharif said the ministry is working on the reopening of the ports of Al-Hodeida and Al-Mokha after their liberation from Houthis. The Minister also said that the reopening of the port of Al-Hodeida will be a blow to the Houthis, who use the port as a link to transport weapons and to disrupt maritime navigation. Concerning the port of Al-Mokha, Sharif said that after the government’s approval the presidency of the Red Sea Ports will be transfer to Al-Mokha.

Houthis threatening strategic starit, warns US general.

BreakingNews @en di

US Central Command chief Gen. Votel told the House Armed Services Committee that the rebels have deployed coastal defense missiles, radar systems and mines, migrated from the strait of Hormuz, threatening free movement into and out the Red Sea. For that reason US Defense Secretary Mattis is increasing military support for the Saudi-led coalition and US Secretary of State Tillerson recommended aiding forces from the UAE driving Houthi rebels from the key port of Al-Hodeidah. Tillerson also said suggested increasing air-to-air refueling and intelligence support to the Arab Coalition. Meanwhile, the UN special envoy to Yemen Cheikh Ahmed, said military operations are escalating and the humanitarian and economic situations are deteriorating in the country, reason why he urged the Security Council to pressure Yemen’s government and the Houthis to proceed with political and security measures, which he prensented.





White House 'considering potential attack' to liberate Al-Hudaydah port.

BreakingNews @en di

Key members of the US government will attend a meeting, set this week, to discuss the situation in Yemen since the Arab Alliance requested their participation in the battle to control the port. The proposal was presented last year to the Obama administration, which rejected the plan because it was seen as a direct engagement of US troops in Yemen. Nowadays US officials said there are two plans to intervene in Yemen against the Houthis and their allies, one sponsored by Central District Commander General Votel and the second one by the Defense Secretary Mattis. It will be President Donald Trump to decide wich plan to proceed with. Some details about the plan have leaked and it seems that the US will assist UAE forces with Special Forces, air and sea backup and surveillance. Moreover the plan proposed by the Defense Secretary will not include ground troops or US special units but will include planning, providing coordinates and fuel for the fighters and in fine field commanders will manage the battle without going back to the White House.

Saudi forces are defending the Yemen borders from Houthis

Houthi militias were stopped at the border with Yemen by Saudi forces that avoid them to get closer. This is not the first attemp of Houthis to cross the border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen or try to smuggle civilians. During this attempt, which started at the break of time, 4 Houthis were killed and several military equipments (weapons, explosive devices, rocket-propelled granades) were seized from them. The militias wore uniforms of the deposed president’s special forces.

CAR investigation shows a “weapons pipeline” from Iran to Yemen

Middle East - Africa di

On November 29, the Conflict Armament Research (CAR), British-based research centre primarily funded by the European Union, released a report showing evidence of Iran’s involvement in the smuggling of weapons to the Houthis rebels in Yemen. The analysis is based on the seizure in February and March of weapons from dhows sailing in the Arabian Sea by the Australian warship HMAS Darwin and the French frigate FS Provence, both part of the Joint International Task Force operating in the Horn of Africa in counter-terrorism and counter-piracy activities. This Task Force works independently and separately from the Saudi-led military coalition operating in the same area.

According to the report, HMAS Darwin seized more than 2,000 weapons, including AK-type assault rifles and 100 Iran-made rocket launchers from the dhow directed to Somalia. The seizure by the French frigate includes other 2,000 assault rifles, with those typical features of the Iranian production and 64 Iran-manufactured Hoshdar-M sniper rifles. In addition, nine Russian-made Kornet anti-tank guided missiles were found on board. An additional Kornet seized by forces within the Saudi coalition in Yemen seems to be part of the same production run as those seized by FS Provence.

The report mentions also the seizure by USS Sirocco – US Navy patrol boat- of AK assault rifles, rocket launchers and machine guns from a dhow transiting in the region. The US Navy believed these weapons to come from Iran and be destined to Yemen. To date, however, no additional information has been shared by the US with CAR.

Weapons seized on board seem to match with those seized from the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Crossing serial numbers and weapons model, CAR has drawn three main conclusions about their origin.

First, the Iranian-produced RPG missile launchers -easily identifiable by the olive green color furniture, the cylindrical rear firing grip, and the yellow serial number – were found on several vessels, including those intercepted by HMAS Darwin and Sirocco. Secondly, sniper rifles could come from Iranian stocks. In fact, such a significant number of weapons sequentially numbered suggests the weapons come from a national stockpile rather than from multiple non-state sources. Finally, Iran may have provided anti-tank guided missiles both of own and Russian production.

Given the number of weapons found on board, most of them manufactured in Iran, investigators talk about the existence of a weapons pipeline from Iran to Yemen. Weapons would initially reach Somalia (in the northern region of Puntland) for local weapons markets and then continue the journey towards Yemen, to arming the Houthi rebels, who have been fighting for the past 20 months against the internationally recognized government of President Hadi.

According to CAR, Iran’s involvement in this kind of traffic is a serious violation of the embargo placed by the United Nations on the arms transfer to rebels. In particular, UN Security Council Resolutions No. 2140 (February 2014), No. 2216 (April 2015), and No. 2266 (February 2016), calling on member states to take all necessary measures to prevent this type of transfers. It would not be the first episode of violation of UN Resolutions by the Islamic Republic.

On 23 January 2013, in fact, the USS Farragut intercepts a shipment of 122-mm Katyusha missiles, radar systems, Chinese QW-1M anti-aircraft missiles, and 2.6 tons of RDX explosives on the ship Jihan 1, off the Yemeni coast. The episode violated the stricter UNSCR 1747 (2007), according to which “Iran Shall not supply, sell, or transfer directly or Indirectly from its territory or by its nationals or using its flag vessels or aircraft any arms or related materiel”.

As in the past, Iran has denied its involvement in these activities, highlighting that its support for the Houthi rebels is only political and diplomatic. However, sources from different Somali ports confirm that the weapons arrive from Iran on large vessels that either come into dock or anchor off the coast, where they are reached by smaller boats, then carrying part of the illicit cargo to other ports in the region. The rest goes to Yemen, in particular to the port of Ash Shihr, east of Mukalla, where they camouflage in the intense maritime traffic that characterizes this area. Further evidence is the very nature of those weapons, uncommon in the Somali arms market.

In conclusion, Iran’s military support for the Houthi rebels is quite evident, despite several warnings received both at the UN and in other regional forums. Patrolling in the waters of the Horn of Africa will continue in order to prevent the supply of arms to the rebels, further fueling the already critical situation in Yemen. However, it would be advisable a future closer coordination and enhanced information sharing among the various actors operating in the field, so they could have a comprehensive picture of Iran’s traffic and be able to tackle more effectively the threat they represent for the stability of the region.


Paola Fratantoni


Paola Fratantoni
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