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Security Council-appointed panel says no missiles sent to Houthis, refuting Saudi Arabia claim

18 November 2017 16:02

A United Nations Security Council-appointed panel has said in a confidential memo that it has seen no evidence to support Saudi Arabia’s claims that missiles have been transferred to Yemen’s Houthis fighters by external sources.

The panel made the conclusion in a confidential assessment sent to Security Council diplomats on November 10, The Intercept, a US-based investigative website, reported on Friday.

On November 4, a missile attack from Yemen targeted the King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) near the Saudi capital, Riyadh. It was the first missile from Yemen to have reached deep inside Saudi territory.

The Houthi movement, which has been fighting back a Saudi-led coalition with allied Yemeni army troops and tribal fighters, said it had fired the missile, which the Saudis said they had intercepted mid-air.

However, the Riyadh regime quickly blamed the Islamic Republic for the incident.

Heating up rhetoric against Iran, and then being proven wrong

In a November 7 letter to the Security Council, Saudi UN Ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi claimed that the debris of the missiles fired by the Houthis on July 22 and November 4 confirmed Iran’s role “in manufacturing these missiles.”

Following the attack, the Saudi-led coalition tightened a blockade that had already been imposed on Yemen in a bid to prevent “the smuggling of weapons, ammunitions, missile parts and cash that are regularly being supplied by Iran” to the Houthis.

It invoked Paragraph 14 of Security Council Resolution 2216, which was passed in April 2015, calling for measures to prevent the supply, sale, or transfer of military goods to Houthi fighters.

The coalition said the missile’s firing was “a blatant act of military aggression” by the Iranian government.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman said it had been “a direct military aggression” by Iran against Saudi Arabia, while Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir stressed that his country reserved the right to “respond in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time.”

The belligerent Saudi posture toward Iran worked to significantly rise tensions.

Iran rejected the allegations as “provocative and baseless,” saying Yemenis had shown an “independent” reaction to the Saudi bombing campaign on their country.

Iran also said that it could not transfer any weapons to Yemen because of the Saudi-led blockade.

The Security Council-appointed panel said in its confidential assessment that it had seen no evidence to back up the Saudi claims that short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) had been transferred to Yemeni fighters in violation of the Resolution 2216.

It said the tightening of the blockade by the Saudi-led coalition and its invoking of Resolution 2216 had been an attempt to merely “obstruct” the delivery of civilian aid.

“The panel finds that imposition of access restrictions is another attempt by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition to use paragraph 14 of resolution 2216 as justification for obstructing the delivery of commodities that are essentially civilian in nature,” the assessment read.

Touching on the July 22 attack, it said, “The supporting evidence provided… is far below that required to attribute this attack to a Qiam-1 SRBM.”

Yemen has witnessed a deadly Saudi-led war since March 2015. The protracted Saudi offensive, which has been accompanied by the, land, naval, and aerial blockade on Yemen, has so far killed over 12,000 people and led to a humanitarian crisis.

The UN has listed Yemen as the world’s number one humanitarian crisis, with 17 million Yemenis in need of food and a cholera epidemic causing over 2,200 deaths so far.

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