US Sends Houthi-Bound Iranian Arms To Ukraine


By Saeed Al-Batati

The US has sent thousands of small arms seized from Iranian weapons shipments bound for Yemen’s Houthi militia to Ukraine to help fight the Russians, the US military said on Tuesday.

The US Central Command, or CENTCOM, said the US government on Thursday transferred more than 5,000 AK-47s, machine guns, sniper rifles, RPG-7 rocket launchers, and 500,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition to the Ukrainian army to restock its small arms arsenal.

“These weapons will help Ukraine defend against Russia’s invasion,” the US military said.

It added that the weapons were seized from four “stateless” boats intercepted between May 2021 and February 2023 while carrying arms from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to the Houthis in Yemen.

“CENTCOM is committed to working with our allies and partners to counter the flow of Iranian lethal aid in the region by all lawful means, including US and UN sanctions and through interdictions,” CENTCOM said, accusing Iran of attempting to undermine global and regional security, as well as the security of US forces, diplomats, and citizens in the region and those from allied countries.

“We will continue to do whatever we can to shed light on and stop Iran’s destabilizing activities.”

Rashed Al-Alimi, chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Council, urged the US in February 2023 to transfer seized Iranian weapons to the Yemeni army to help combat the Houthis. 

The appeal came a week after the Wall Street Journal reported that the US was considering delivering confiscated Iranian weapons, including thousands of rifles, ammunition, and anti-tank missiles, to Ukraine.

“We demand that they be turned over to the legitimate government. They (the Americans) only provided samples of them with smugglers as courtroom proof,” Al-Alimi said.

Since November, the Houthis have fired ballistic missiles and drones at commercial and navy ships in the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandab Strait and the Gulf of Aden, claiming that the strikes are intended to put pressure on Israel to relieve its siege of Gaza.

The US, the Yemeni government, and others in the region believe Iran provided the Houthis with the weapons and assisted the militia with military know-how and intelligence.

In response to the Houthi attacks, the US formed a coalition of naval task forces to protect the Red Sea, and launched strikes against Houthi targets in Yemeni areas under their control.

On Tuesday, US Central Command said that its forces had destroyed an air defense system preparing to launch two missiles as well as a ground control center in Yemen-controlled areas.

A drone fired by the Houthis toward international ships in the Red Sea was also intercepted. 

The Houthis on Sunday launched a ballistic missile at a US-led coalition ship escorting M/V Hope Island, which the US military described as “a Marshall Islands-flagged, UK-owned, Italian-operated cargo ship.”

“There were no injuries or damage reported by US, coalition, or commercial ships. This was the fifth observed missile launch against this coalition ship and M/V Hope Island,” CENTCOM said.

The Houthis said on Monday that a man had been injured and his home demolished in a US and UK strike in Al-Hawak district in the western province of Hodeidah.

Meanwhile, the Houthis freed Abu Zaid Al-Kumaim, head of the Yemeni Teachers Club, an umbrella organization that represents thousands of Yemeni teachers, after kidnapping and holding him for more than six months over salary payment demands.

The Houthis took Al-Kumaim from his home in Sanaa in October after he urged teachers to go on strike over demands that the Houthis pay the salaries of thousands of teachers.

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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