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Yemeni Houthis receiving heavy weapon shipments via Red Sea ports: sources - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Two members of the Shi'ite Houthi movement inspect the scene of a car-bomb blast that targeted the residence of the newly-appointed Iranian ambassador to Yemen, in Sana'’a, on December 5, 2014.  (EPA/YAHYA ARHAB)

Two members of the Shi’ite Houthi movement inspect the scene of a car-bomb blast that targeted the residence of the newly-appointed Iranian ambassador to Yemen, in Sana’’a, on December 5, 2014. (EPA/YAHYA ARHAB)

Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen’s Houthi fighters have received shipments of heavy weapons via Red Sea ports under their control, Yemeni government sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday.

Militia groups loyal to the Shi’ite movement, which continues to advance in a number of regions across Yemen, received the weapons shipments via the Red Sea ports of Midi, Hodeidah and Al-Khokha from an allied “Islamic” country, likely the Islamic Republic of Iran, which some Gulf states accuse of backing the movement, according to the sources.

The weapons shipments include heavy weaponry as well as machine guns and mines, they added.

The report came the same day as a senior Yemeni security official warned other states to respect Yemeni sovereignty. Addressing a regional security conference in the Bahraini capital of Manama, the head of Yemen’s National Security Agency, Ali Al-Ahmadi, called for other states not to attempt to interfere in Yemen’s internal affairs.

The latest allegations follow on the heels of the Houthis, once an insurgent movement confined to parts of northern Yemen, taking control of the capital Sana’a and assume an increasingly dominant role in the country’s politics.

Although a power-sharing deal was agreed between the Shi’ite militia and President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi in September and a new government led by Prime Minister Khaled Bahah has been formed, the Houthis have objected to the appointment of a number of ministers and continue to take control of different parts of Yemen.

The Yemeni government sources also claimed that the majority of Yemen’s maritime forces and Coast Guard are now under control of the Houthi group, citing a “conspiracy” between the Shi’ite militia and officers loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The UN Security Council recently authorized sanctions on former Yemeni president Saleh and senior Houthi rebel military commanders Abd Al-Khaliq Al-Houthi and Abdullah Yahya Al-Hakim over the latest unrest in Yemen, freezing their assets and imposing a travel ban on them.

The US had submitted a formal request to the UN’s Yemen sanctions committee for Saleh and the two senior Houthis to be sanctioned, claiming that the former president “was behind the attempts to cause chaos throughout Yemen” and was using the Houthi militia to “not only delegitimize the central government, but also create enough instability to stage a coup.”

Meanwhile, Clashes continued mid-week between Houthi fighters and Sunni tribes allied with Al-Qaeda in central Yemen as the Shi’ite militia continued to try and expand its presence in Al-Baydah province. At least 33 people were killed in fighting over Tuesday and Wednesday between Shi’ite militia fighters and Sunni tribesmen.

Yemeni military sources also said that US drone strikes had killed at least seven suspected Al-Qaeda militants in southern Yemen this week as the situation in the country continues to deteriorate.