Yemen’s internationally recognized president accused Iran of wanting to destroy his country.
A Saudi Arabia-led coalition is combating Iran-backed Houthi rebels who form part of a Shiite Muslim minority in Yemen. Iran is Saudi Arabia’s regional power rival.
On Wednesday, the Saudi alliance said that coalition forces had seized an Iranian ship in the Arabian Sea loaded with weapons destined to the Shiite rebels in Yemen.
The coalition claims it found 54 missiles, 18 armor-piercing shells, battery kits, and other related equipment. Fourteen Iranian ship crew members have been arrested.
“We find ourselves mixed in this battle, this fight for the country and the legitimacy of the state to ensure that the country not fall into the hands of Iran, which would like to see the destruction of the country,” Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.
During his speech, Hadi thanked Saudi King Salman for acting with “utter determination” by leading the air campaign against the Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies, which began in late March.
The Saudi-led coalition’s response the rising of the Houthis Yemen was a “courageous one,” added Hadi.
Hadi’s government was forced to flee to the Saudi capital Riyadh earlier this year after as the Houthis took over much of Yemen. The Houthis have formed an alliance to military units loyal to Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
In July, the Saudi-led Gulf states coalition retook the strategic port city of Aden in southern Yemen form the Houthis, allowing the Yemeni president to set up his government there. The Saudi-led coalition is currently preparing for push north towards the Yemeni capital Sanaa, currently under the control of the Houthis.
The city of Aden was experiencing “great joy as it has been liberated from the Houthis militia,” President Hadi told the UN.
“Yet, I am troubled to see the degree of destruction left in the wake of these criminal militia,” added the Yemeni leader, condemning the tragedy in Aden and other Yemeni cities.
“Three years ago I found myself at this podium before you,” he continued. “At that time I spoke of the various stages we had undertaken to ensure a successful transition a handover of power in a spirit of peace.”
Mr. Hadi highlighted the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, appealing for more relief aid for Yemen’s beleaguered civilian population.
“This requires greater effort internationally so as to alleviate human suffering and to ensure that the Yemeni crisis is not forgotten,” he told the UN.
Hadi noted that UN aid has only managed to cover a portion of what is needed.
“I would like to take this opportunity to address and appeal to donor countries to ensure that they provide the promised assistance,” he said.
The Yemeni leader went on to say that he welcomes all efforts for a peaceful solution to the political crisis in his country.
“I do hope that efforts made by the United Nations will be crowned by success,” he said, stressing that “the satiability of our country is a source of stability for the region and the world.”