The London-based Arab newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported Saturday that Yemen's Navy has detained an Iranian ship trying to deliver weapons to the country's Shiite rebels.
The paper quoted a high ranking Yemeni Coast Guard official as saying that the vessel was able to unload some of its cargo before it was seized, and that "a great variety of weapons" were found on board.
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According to the report, 16 Syrians and two Somalis were arrested on board.
Sanaa has maintained that Tehran was providing the country's Shiite rebels, known as the "Houthi" with training and funding.
Destabilizing force. Revolutionary Guard's march (Archives: EPA)
The Houthi are based in northen Yemen. Sanaa's National Security Board Chief Maj.-Gen. Ali Al Ahmadi told Yemeni media that "Iran is providing al-Houthis with weapons via the Medi sea port in the Red Sea.
"Also, Iran has exploited the political turmoil in Yemen to expand its leverage in the north and it is ready to drive al-Houthis to occupy Sanaa."
Yemen claims it has intercepted Iranian arms shipments to the rebels before. Still, Sanaa has yet to take any diplomatic action, and it is believed it does not intend to suspend or sever diplomatic ties with Teheran, which was investing in Yemen’s health and power sectors.
Yemeni President Abbed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has also accused the Islamic Republic of providing funding and arms to another rebel group, the Herak, which is based in the country's south.
Yemen also accused Iran of recruiting more than a thousand Yemeni youths and sending them to Lebanon and Syria to receive military training from Hezbollah.
Earlier in the week, the Kuwaiti daily al-Seyassah quoted an unnamed Yemeni source as saying that Tehran has spent some $1 billion in aid to the various rebel groups trying to topple Sanaa's regime.
According to al-Seyassah’s source, those recruited by the Iranian regime are sent to Lebanon and Syria, where they receive military training from Hezbollah; before being shipped to Qom, Iran, for religious indoctrination.
Once they complete their training, they are sent back to Yemen, "To form subversive cells controlled by Tehran," the report said.
According to al-Seyassah, Sanaa is "very concerned that Iran is using the youths for espionage and sabotage on behalf of Tehran."
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