JAFFAm Israel — The Houthi rebels in Yemen receive Iranian arms shipments via a “sister state” as well as two African countries, the Saudi Alwatan newspaper reported.
Even though the paper refrains from naming the countries, Saudi sources believe the Arab state is Oman, which maintains good relations with both Riyadh and Tehran, and even offered to mediate between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi leadership.
The paper claimed that the arms are smuggled on oil tankers travelling between Oman and Yemen under the auspices of Yemeni and Lebanese merchants who work in tandem with associates of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Houthis’ ally. Among them is a major alcohol merchant.
The paper reported that most of the smuggling takes place by sea, using export permits for cattle and agricultural supplies.
“The shipments include weapons and missile parts, as well as large sums of money,” a source told the paper. “The merchandise arrives in Yemen on large fishing boats owned by Houthis, after having moored in two African countries and a ‘sister’ state. The smuggling is performed by legitimate merchants who hold official trading licenses.”
The source added that a sizable shipment was smuggled on the eve of Eid al Adha, two weeks ago. Among the suspected smugglers is a Yemeni businessman named by the paper who allegedly imports cattle into Yemen, selling it mainly to the army. He allegedly used his contacts in the military to engage in smuggling of drugs and weapons.
The paper said that he benefits from his intimate relationship with Saleh, whose loyalists fight on the Houthis’ side.
The paper also said that the smuggling is performed under the supervision of Iranian officials who are stationed across the Arabian Peninsula and especially in Africa.