GCC Chief: Gulf Countries, U.S. Agree to Stop Iran Arms Shipments to Yemen

Security forces loyal to Yemen's president man a checkpoint in the southern city of Aden on January 18, 2016

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members and the United States have reached an agreement to prevent the shipment of Iranian weapons to Yemen, according to Abdullatif al-Zayani, the alliance’s secretary general.

At a joint news conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Zayani told reporters of the accord to carry out joint patrols to stop the arms shipments that was reached between the U.S. and GCC members, which include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, Reuters reports.

“Iran denies accusations by Gulf states that it is smuggling weapons to Yemen, where GCC countries are involved in a military campaign against the Tehran-allied Houthi movement,” notes the report.

On Tuesday, the United Nations world powers made an attempt to persuade the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen to participate in the peace negotiations in Kuwait as a fragile ceasefire was close to collapsing.

A Saudi-led coalition, backed by the United States, has been fighting the Houthis and their allies, armed groups loyal to Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh since March 2015.

“Houthi negotiators have stayed put in the [Yemeni] capital Sanaa, which their movement holds, demanding a ceasefire that began on April 10 be fully observed before they travel for the talks originally planned to start with representatives of [the internationally recognized] President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government on Monday,” reports Reuters.

“The Houthis have also rejected a proposed agenda that stipulates they hand over heavy weapons and withdraw from areas they control before a new government comprising all Yemeni forces is formed,” it adds.

Fighting between the Iran-allied Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition is likely to resume if the peace talks fail.

“Hadi’s government has ordered its delegation to stay put in Kuwait while the United Nations sought to persuade the Houthis to join the talks,” notes Reuters. “Residents in Marib province east of Sanaa meanwhile reported intensified fighting after troops loyal to Hadi arrived on Monday after training in Saudi Arabia.”

“Fighting was also taking place in Taiz in southwestern Yemen despite the presence of ceasefire monitors, while Saudi-led warplanes flew over the Yemeni capital,” adds the report.

According to the United Nations, more than 6,200 people have been killed and millions other displaced by the Yemen war.

“Al Qaeda and Islamic State have also exploited the war to widen their influence and gain more supporters in a country next door to Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter,” points out Reuters.


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