Leader of PLC demands US handover of Houthi-bound Iranian arms
SMA NEWS – ADEN THE CAPITAL
Chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), Rashad Al-Alimi has urged the US to provide the Yemeni army with seized Iranian weaponry destined for the Houthis in order to replenish its arsenal and battle the militia.
Al-Alimi said on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference that the US turned over the traffickers of the seized weapons to the Yemeni authorities along with just a handful of rifles as evidence during the trials.
“We demand that they be turned over to the legitimate government. They (the Americans) only provided samples of them with smugglers as courtroom proof,” he said.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the US is considering providing Ukraine with thousands of rifles, anti-tank missiles, and other Iranian weaponry meant for Yemen’s Houthis.
Officials from the Yemeni military believe that the military and security forces need these weapons to safeguard their territory and combat the Houthis and other terrorist groups.
Al-Alimi accused the Houthis of derailing efforts to achieve peace in Yemen, both now and in the past, by disrupting the transitional process that followed the Arab Spring-inspired protest, the formation of a new constitution, and presidential and parliamentary elections, and he blamed Iran for pushing the Houthis to seize power.
“All the outcomes we are witnessing today…are the result of Iran’s backing for this irresponsible and destructive act in the area,” he said.
The Yemeni leader stated that the Houthis are obedient to Iran’s orders to undermine peace in the region and that they are not serious about achieving peace.
He said that the Houthis have planted thousands of landmines, refused to renew the UN-brokered ceasefire, repressed people in areas under their control, and recently attacked oil facilities in southern Yemen.
“The international community must recognize that this organization is not a peace project; rather, it is a project of violence and devastation tied to Iran’s regional expansionist goal,” said Al-Alimi.
“There is a Quds Force-led subversive operation in the area, and it is prevalent everywhere, not only in Yemen. This militia takes its orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s operations room.”
He advised the Houthis to give up their guns, become a political party, contest in elections, and turn their backs on Iran, pledging to combat them if they continue to seize power by force.
“They must become a political group. If the Yemeni people elect them at the ballot box, they should govern Yemen. We have no problems. Those (Houthis) are Yemenis and our brothers, but they have prioritized Iran’s interests above those of the Yemeni people,” Al-Alimi said.
The Yemeni leader said that the Yemeni government has reversed its decision to withdraw from the UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement after the Houthis attacked oil infrastructure in the southern provinces of Shabwa and Hadramout, continued to violate the UN-brokered truce, and attacked government forces.
“We were in the process of filing a request to the UN to freeze this agreement since it has lost all significance. Our allies recommended that we wait,” he said.
Al-Alimi strongly denied media reports that Saudi Arabia bypassed his government and engaged in direct talks with the Houthis and that they are about to sign a deal with the militia, stating that Saudi officials informed the presidential council about their efforts to end the war in Yemen by approaching the Houthis.
“We commend all efforts, whether from the brothers in Oman or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, so long as they lead to a fair and lasting peace that would alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people and put an end to Yemeni bloodshed,” he said.
“The Saudi brothers notified us that there are connections and negotiations between them and the Houthis. This is not the first time this has happened…Saudi Arabia made it plain that no deal could be reached between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis. Any deal will be reached between the legitimate government and the coup militia.”
He thanked the Kingdom and the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen for humanitarian and military help, including the rehabilitation of a hospital in Aden, which would treat more than half a million patients annually.
Al-Alimi said that the Houthis would have seized control of the Bab Al-Mandab Strait and constituted a danger to international maritime traffic if the coalition had not intervened militarily in Yemen in 2015 to defend the internationally recognized government.
“Without the assistance of the coalition, the Houthis would have captured Bab Al-Mandab and Perim Island. They could prohibit ships from traveling across this area with standard firearms,” he said.