- Yemen government claims it has evidence of Hezbollah role
- Hezbollah said aiding Houthi attacks on Saudi border
Yemen’s government said Wednesday that it has proof Iran-backed Hezbollah militants are helping Yemeni rebels carry out cross-border attacks in Saudi Arabia, fueling the tensions between the regional powers.
The Saudi-backed Yemeni government has documents and “concrete evidence” to back up its claim against the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah, Yemen’s state-run Saba news service cited government spokesman Rajeh Badi as saying. It gave no further details of Hezbollah’s alleged support for Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels, but said it would provide the evidence to the United Nations Security Council and the Arab League. It gave no timetable.
Sunni-led Saudi Arabia has long claimed that Shiite Iran’s hand was behind the Houthi advance in Yemen. Western diplomats have played down the claims of Iranian involvement and Iran denies it is directing the rebels.
Saudi Arabia has become increasingly impatient with Hezbollah’s role in the region as its political and military rivalry with Shiite Iran heats up. The kingdom scrapped $3 billion in pledged military aid to Lebanon last week, blaming Hezbollah’s influence over the country’s national affairs.
Hezbollah fighters, with Iran’s support, are also backing the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The kingdom supports rebels fighting to remove him.
A Saudi-led coalition started bombing the Houthis in March last year after they ousted Yemeni President Abdurabuh Mansur Hadi, the kingdom’s ally. Saudi Arabia said earlier this month that 375 of its civilians have been killed by missile strikes around its southern border with Yemen.
More than 6,000 people have been killed and 28,000 wounded in Yemen since airstrikes began almost a year ago, according to the UN.
Politically, relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia ebbed in January when the kingdom severed diplomatic ties following an attack on its embassy in Tehran. The assault was provoked by the kingdom’s execution of a Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr.