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Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of blocking Yemen peace

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Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (R) and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attend a press conference in Riyadh on October 22, 2017. Alex Brandon / POOL / AFP

Saudi Arabia on Sunday accused Iran of blocking peace efforts in Yemen, slamming its political archrival over support for the Yemeni rebels Riyadh is fighting against.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir accused Tehran of smuggling arms to Yemen’s Shiite Huthi rebels, who control northern Yemen, and to the rebels’ ally former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

“Iran is destroying all attempts to find a solution in Yemen, which has led to the failure of all political negotiations between the government and these militias,” Jubeir told a gathering in the Saudi capital of foreign ministers and military officials from countries including Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Senegal.

“These militias would not have continued operations without the support of the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world — the Iranian regime,” Jubeir said.

The Yemen war has claimed more than 8,600 lives since a regional military coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, joined the Yemeni government’s fight against the rebels in 2015.

A cholera outbreak has also claimed more than 2,100 lives since April as hospitals struggle to secure supplies amid a blockades on ports and the country’s main international airport.

The United Nations has warned Yemen now stands at the brink of famine.

Both sides in the Yemen conflict have come under harsh criticism for their neglect of civilian safety, but the Saudi-led coalition has in particular been accused of bombing schools, markets and hospitals in support of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The United Nations this month placed the coalition on a blacklist over its “killing and maiming of children”.

Sunday’s gathering in Riyadh comes a week after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Gulf officials in the Saudi capital for talks that largely focused on Iran’s role across the region.

The UN Human Rights Council in September agreed to send a group of experts to investigate alleged violations and abuses in Yemen, overcoming strong resistance by Saudi Arabia’s representative.



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