- The Washington Times - Friday, May 25, 2018

The White House expressed alarm Friday about Iranian-backed Houthi militants firing missiles at a cargo ship off the coast of Yemen, saying the violence was financed by Tehran.

Missiles or rockets hit a Turkish vessel earlier this month about 70 miles off the coast of Yemen. The ship was attempting to deliver 50,000 metric tons of wheat to Yemen’s Saleef port near Hudaydah.

“This proves yet again that missile proliferation in Yemen is a real threat to all countries and underscores the need to fully enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

The United Nations resolution imposed an arms embargo on the militants and called for the disarmament of the Houthis, a Shiite group that controls much of North Yemen including the capital Sanaa.

Mrs. Sanders said missile attacks, including reports of strike on an oil tanker in the Red Sea, underscores Iran’s malign influence in the region.

“We deplore the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ diversion of the Iranian people’s wealth to exacerbate conflicts in other countries and threaten international commerce. Areas under the Houthi control are suffering. The Houthis should engage meaningfully with the United Nations Special Envoy in order to provide a better future for all Yemenis,” she said.

Since pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, President Trump has sought to build international support in confronting Iran’s destabilizing influence and spread of terrorism in the Middle East, as well as its long-term goals of nuclear weapons.

The Houthis drove a Saudi-backed government into exile in 2014. The militants have been fighting Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their Sunni Muslim allies in Yemen for three years.

U.S. officials have blamed Iran for inflaming the turmoil in Yemen.

Last month, a Saudi oil tanker was hit off Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah, suffering limited damage, in what coalition forces said was an attack by the Houthis. The Houthis said they had targeted a coalition warship.

“By risking the spill of millions of barrels of oil, which could further disrupt commerce and destroy fisheries upon which many Yemenis depend for their food and livelihoods, this action further reflects the Houthis’ disregard for the Yemeni people,” said Mrs. Sanders.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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