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Seized UAE-flagged ship was carrying ‘weapons’ not toys, top Yemeni official tells UN Security Council

This picture, provided by the media bureau of Yemen’s Operations Command Center on January 3, 2022, shows military vehicles and equipment aboard a United Arab Emirates-flagged military cargo vessel seized by Yemeni naval forces.

A senior Yemeni official has dismissed the UN Security Council’s call for the immediate release of an Emirati-flagged vessel, stressing that the ship was carrying various munitions and military equipment when it was seized in Yemen’s territorial waters earlier this month.

“The Rwabee was neither loaded with dates nor children's toys. It was rather carrying weapons destined for extremist groups who jeopardize the lives of ordinary citizens,” Hussein al-Azi, deputy foreign minister in Yemen’s National Salvation Government, said in a series of posts published on his Twitter page.

On Friday, the 15-member Security Council “demanded the immediate release of the vessel and its crew and "underscored the necessity of ensuring the crew's safety and well-being.”

The Council highlighted "the importance of freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea" and urged "all parties to de-escalate the situation in Yemen," including by working with the UN's special envoy to return to the negotiating table.

Azi said the Rwabee belongs to a country involved in the devastating Saudi war on the Yemeni nation, highlighting that the vessel trespassed into Yemen's territorial waters in contravention of international law.

The deputy Yemeni foreign minister emphasized that financial considerations have eclipsed the Security Council's statement, stating it actually has nothing to do with moral principles and maritime safety.

He expressed regret that the UN body is misleading the world public opinion, and is outrageously demonstrating solidarity with killer regimes and violators of international law.

“Even though Yemeni naval forces could rightfully target the hostile Rwabee ship, they opted not to do so. It is very important to respect Yemen’s sovereignty and not to violate its territorial waters,” Azi pointed out.

On January 3, the spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces said the country’s naval troops, backed by allied fighters from Popular Committees, had managed to seize a UAE-flagged vessel off the port of Hudaydah as it was carrying military equipment and engaging in hostile acts.

Brigadier General Yahya Saree stated that the Yemeni forces and their allies captured the vessel after it trespassed into Yemen’s territorial waters and was acting against the security and stability of the country.

The senior Yemeni military official added that the ship was loaded with various munitions and was seized off the coast of Yemen’s strategic western province of Hudaydah.

Saudi Arabia, backed by the United States and regional allies, launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi back to power and crushing the popular Ansarullah resistance movement.

The war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead and displaced millions more. It has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases there.

Despite heavily-armed Saudi Arabia’s incessant bombardment of the impoverished country, the Yemeni armed forces and the Popular Committees have grown steadily in strength against the Saudi-led invaders and left Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the country.

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