Yemen: Coast guards increase surveillance to tackle rise in arms and drug smuggling to Houthi-controlled region

July 22, 2020

Yemen coast guards, backed by international forces, have ramped up security checks and surveillance drives in the Red Sea after seizing boats smuggling weapons and drugs to the Houthi-controlled region. In last few months, its the fourth time Yemen coast guards have caught illegal shipment set for Iran-backed Houthi militant forces.

The local officials who seized the boat on Thursday sailing inside Yemeni waters near Perim Island, said that they found about three tonnes of ammunition, including AK-47guns wrapped up in plastic bags, hidden inside the boat. In another such sea patrolling drive, authorities found packets containing 40kg of cocaine being illegally smuggled in the country.

Col Abduljabar Zahzooh, who heads Yemen’s coastguard in the Red Sea, told reports about the Thursday operation,”The patrol suspected a boat while it was sailing in the Yemeni waters in Bab Al Mandab. The patrol stopped the suspect boat and towed it with its three-man crew to a safe area in Bab Al Mandab where our officers inspected it and found dozens of plastic bags containing thousands of AK-47 rounds hidden within the body.”

“In June 2020 our forces thwarted four attempts to smuggle weapon and drug shipments in the Red Sea including a boat loaded with a shipment containing different types of pistols and another boat loaded with 40 kilos of cocaine heading to Houthi controlled areas,” he added.

Of late there have been multiple seizures of armaments from the eastern coast of Yemen. This rampant seizing of weapons and drugs have been a key factor in turning of events in the country. The coastal officer said that the costal forces receive major support from the Saudi-led coalition in combating piracy and smuggling especially along the eastern coastline of Yemen. The Arab coalition, lead by Saudi Arabia and UAE, has been actively empowering the coastal forces with money, training and technology to fight back increasing terrorism in the region. The coalition supports UN-recognised government.

He said, “The major support our forces receive from the coalition was behind the uptick in the weapon shipment seizures by our forces in collaboration with the Arab Coalition forces and the US navy. Our forces seized lots of weapons, projectiles and landmines near the eastern shores, some of these weapon shipments were heading to the Houthis, meanwhile, other shipments belong to smugglers networks.”

He added “We succeeded because everyone supports us including the Saudi-led coalition, the National Resistance and others. We have now 150 boats.”

Houthis are strongly supported by Iran, for both share common ideology of Islamic extremism and work unitedly for its application across different parts of the region. Iran has been supporting Houthi militants in establishing its dominance over the country, by supplying it with arms and money.

Houthis have been trying to destabilise the government but Saudi Arabia has been trying to bring peace in the country. In a recent development, Saudi ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Al-Jaber, said that the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) had given back the seized money to the central bank in Aden after the government agreed to pay security forces. A successful Saudi mediation led to this negotiation.

“Saudi Arabia’s continuous efforts, through direct meetings between the Govt of Yemen and the STC, to resolve issues of CBY funds and salary payments and implement the Riyadh Agreement, have succeeded due to a consensus among the two parties on alleviating suffering in Yemen,” Al-Jaber tweeted on Friday.

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