It has been reported that the Saudi-led coalition stopped and detained an Iranian ship allegedly carrying weapons to Houthi militant fighters in Yemen. The seizure of the ship comes as the coalition has imposed a near-blockade in the Arabian Sea for the purpose of stopping arms deliveries to the Houthis.
The coalition, which includes Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, has been fighting the Iranian-backed Houthis for over six months. The alliance is trying to stabilize the Yemeni government led by President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Another goal of the coalition is to contain an increasing Iranian presence in the region.
With respect to the recent detainment of the Iranian ship, the coalition released a statement that, “The Command of the Coalition . . . foiled an attempt to smuggle weapons destined to the Houthi militias, on an Iranian fishing boat.” Authorities stated that 14 Iranian soldiers were placed in custody after they found 54 anti-tank shells, firing guidance systems, launchers and 18 anti-armored Concourse shells. The boat was seized about 150 miles off the coast of southern Oman.
The naval seizure comes shortly after the coalition seized the Marib dam from Houthi fighters earlier this week. The recapture of the dam is a sizeable victory for Yemen as its location is critical in pushing back against the Houthis.
The coalition also released a statement emphasizing that it was not responsible for the airstrike that killed 131 people attending a wedding reception in the Taiz province over the weekend. Alliance spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri stated that, “No air strikes were launched in that area in the past three days . . . it’s not true that every explosion that happens in Yemen is caused by the coalition.”
The past six months of the civil war has resulted in hundreds of coalition airstrikes and the deaths of more than 5,400 people. The war has also greatly exacerbated the significant hunger and suffering of Yemeni civilians.