DUBAI: On Tuesday, the US Navy announced that it had nabbed more than 2,000 assault rifles that had been smuggled aboard a fishing boat along the Iranian-Yemeni maritime route.
The US Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, announced in a statement that the cargo was discovered on Friday off the coast of Oman “on a route historically used to traffic illicit cargo to the Huthis in Yemen,” noting that the vessel “was crewed by six Yemeni nationals.”
Vice Admiral Brad Cooper was quoted as saying, “This shipment is part of a continued pattern of destabilizing activity from Iran.”
In 2014, the Huthi rebels, backed by Iran, took control of Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. This prompted a Saudi-led coalition to intervene the following year.
Since then, a brutal war has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and brought the impoverished nation to the brink of famine.
A UN-brokered ceasefire that went into effect in April resulted in a significant decrease in fighting. The truce ended in October, but fighting has largely stopped.
2,116 AK-47 assault rifles were aboard the fishing vessel seized last week.
The Fifth Fleet stated that “the direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer of weapons to the Huthis violates” international law, and that “the transfer of the vessel and its crew for repatriation is in progress.”
In February 2022, the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on the Huthis.
The US Navy announced last month that it had seized one million rounds of ammunition, rocket fuses, and propellant that were being smuggled from Iran to Yemen on a fishing trawler.
A boat carrying “explosive materials” from Iran meant to supply the Huthis with enough power to power a dozen ballistic rockets, the US Navy claimed in November, was sunk.