A senior Houthi Ansarullah official has lashed out at British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt for supporting continued exports of lethal weapons to Saudi Arabia, saying that London cannot be a peace-broker in Yemen while it is still arming the invaders.
The remarks were made by Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the Chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Yemen, in an interview with The Guardian published on Friday.
“Britain sending aid does not change the tragic reality of its arms sales. Jeremy Hunt cannot promote peace while at the same time acting as an arms salesman,” al-Houthi said, slamming Hunt for pressing Germany to relax its arms sales ban on Saudi Arabia.
“Mr. Hunt has gone beyond defending British arms sales, by attempting to pressure other European countries, such as Germany, to sell arms,” he added.
Earlier this month, Germany extended a ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia imposed over the kingdom’s deadly campaign against Yemen and the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The decision drew criticism of European partners, including France and Britain, due to the fact that the move has impacted joint defense projects.
Both Hunt and the French government have been lobbying the German coalition to allow the arms sales, but there has been an impasse between the Social Democrats, who oppose the sales, and the Christian Democrats, who back them.In his Friday interview, al-Houthi blamed the joint British, US, Saudi, and UAE naval forces for the currently “critical” level of famine and the “tragic humanitarian situation” in Yemen.
“The Saudi-led coalition, backed by Britain, commits war crimes and does not abide by, as Britain claims, ‘the most stringent guidelines for the export of weapons in the world’,” the Yemeni official said.
“The principles mentioned are solely for political speech and to avoid the legal and moral responsibility concerning the war crimes and humanitarian situation that the British government faces as part of such alliance,” he added.
Back on March 1, Hunt held a rare meeting with chief negotiator for Yemen’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement Mohammed Abdul-Salam in the Omani capital of Muscat to discuss ongoing peace negotiations related to the Yemeni port city of Hudaydah.
Speaking to Hunt, Abdul-Salam expressed concern about what he described as the Saudi-led coalition’s attempts to introduce new conditions to a follow-up deal to the Stockholm agreement, a deal reached in December between the Ansarullah and the Saudi-backed former regime on a ceasefire in Hudaydah.
Later on March 3, the British top diplomat paid a rare visit to Yemen, where he claimed that Hudaydah “was supposed to be cleared of militia and left under neutral control by the beginning of January.”
The remarks were widely condemned by the Ansarullah movement, whose spokesman said Hunt is distorting the terms of the UN-mediated ceasefire deal reached in Sweden.
Hudaydah, the entry point for most of Yemen’s commercial goods and vital aid, has seen some of the heaviest fighting in the four-year Saudi war.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE launched an offensive against Hudaydah in June 2018, but they have faced strong resistance put up by Yemeni armed forces – led by the Houthis — and the city’s residents.
The Saudi-led coalition claims that the Houthis are using the port for weapons delivery, an allegation rejected by the fighters.
The UK has licensed over £4.7 billion worth of arms exports, including missiles and fighter jets, to Riyadh since the Saudi regime and its allies launched the war on Yemen in early 2015.