Yemen accuses Iran of deterring country’s stability
SANAA - Yemen on Sunday demanded an explanation from Tehran over an Iran-linked arms shipment seized last month and rejected interference in its internal affairs, state news agency Saba reported.
"The Yemeni government will not allow interference in its internal affairs from any party, or for its territories to become a site for proxy wars," Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi told Iran's ambassador to Sanaa, Mahmud Hassan Zada.
The foreign minister also "demanded an explanation from Iran on the vessel," intercepted by Yemeni coast guard in coordination with the US navy on January 23 in the Arabian Sea.
Yemen's national security chief on Saturday accused Tehran of "damaging Yemen," as the interior ministry said it was investigating an Iran-linked arms shipment seized last month.
"Such a shipment cannot be made by traders or smugglers... Only an official power stands behind it," Ali Hassan al-Ahmadi told reporters in Sanaa.
"We have repeatedly urged our brothers in Iran to reassess their stances towards Yemen. They had always denied any interference, but this shipment sadly affirms that they insist on damaging Yemen," Ahmadi said.
"Yemen will take measures (to) preserve its right to defend its citizens and its sovereignty," he said.
The Jihan II was carrying rockets and explosives, which authorities in Sanaa say came from Iran, although Tehran denies any involvement.
Yemen is still investigating the shipment whose eight-strong Yemeni crew are being questioned.
A security official last week said the vessel came from Iran and that the arms "were destined for the Huthi rebels in Saada," the stronghold of Shiite fighters in northern Yemen.
United Nations sanctions experts are investigating Sanaa's claims, according to New York-based diplomats.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland has praised the Yemeni government for its "successful and significant interdiction" of the vessel and its decision to alert the UN Security Council.
"These weapons are clearly designed to cause significant damage with the highest possible number of casualties and are a threat to both Yemen and the region," Nuland said.