Iranian fishing boats have entered Yemen’s territorial waters illegally over the last few weeks, prompting Yemeni officials to renew calls for Iran to halt its interference in the country.
Yemeni Minister of Fisheries Fahad Kafayan confirmed the claims on September 28, stating that more than 40 Iranian fishing vessels had entered Yemeni waters around the Socotra Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, where they were fishing illegally. Iran has also been accused of using vessels to supply the Houthi rebels with weapons..
"It is through these repeated Iranian violations in Yemeni waters that Iran carries out its destructive actions in Yemen,” Minister Kafayan stated in a series of tweets.
He then called on the international community to stand "firmly against the destructive role that Iran is playing in Yemen."
Kafayan added that the international community's silence in the face of Iran’s “open attack on Yemeni sovereignty” was a violation of the principles of the United Nations, international legitimacy, and the sovereignty and security of states.
The minister expressed Yemen's hopes for greater coordination between the Yemeni government and the Arab coalition to repel what he described as "Iranian violations,” urging them to “protect Yemeni marine waters and marine resources from the tampering that they are exposed to, which is represented in the first instance by illegal fishing."
The Arab coalition in Yemen, which is led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has previously announced on several occasions that Iranian ships have been seen in Yemeni territorial waters, suspected of smuggling weapons to the Houthi group Ansarallah, which has links with Iran.
Kafayan stated in July that Iranian fishing vessels had been positioned nine miles from the coast of Socotra Island in the Indian Ocean, confirming that these vessels continued to fish indiscriminately, "depleting Yemeni fish resources.”
On June 29, an international report by Global Fishing Watch, which specializes in monitoring fishing vessels, revealed that more than 200 Iranian vessels had fished illegally in Yemeni and Somali waters during 2019 and 2020.
More than 1.7 million Yemenis depend on traditional fishing for their livelihoods, and more than 500,000 people work in the fishing industry along the Yemeni coast. This represents the largest working group in Yemen, and it has been badly affected by the ongoing war, which is now in its sixth year. According to the Sana'a Center for Strategic Studies, fish production in Yemen has decreased by more than 60 percent in recent years due to the five-year war in Yemen.
In June, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that the United States, together with coalition forces, seized a ship carrying Iranian weapons destined for the Houthis in Yemen.