February 11, 2013 - 12:51 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - As the United States pushes for an end to the UN arms embargo on Somalia, UN monitors are reporting that Islamist militants in the Horn of Africa nation are receiving arms from distribution networks linked to Yemen and Iran, diplomats told Reuters, the news agency reported.
The UN Security Council's sanctions monitoring team's concerns about Iranian and Yemeni links to arms supplies for al Shabaab militants come as Yemen is asking Tehran to stop backing armed groups on Yemeni soil. Last month Yemeni coast guards and the U.S. Navy seized a consignment of missiles and rockets the Sanaa government says were sent by Iran.
According to the latest findings by the monitoring group, which tracks compliance with UN sanctions on Somalia and Eritrea, most weapons deliveries are coming into northern Somalia - that is, the autonomous Puntland and Somaliland regions - after which they are moved farther south into Shabaab strongholds.
The supply chains in Yemen are largely Somali networks in that country, council diplomats said on condition of anonymity.
The monitors were scheduled to informally brief Security Council members but the meeting was canceled due to a major snowstorm, diplomats said. The UN monitors favor a gradual easing of the arms embargo rather lifting it as the Americans and the Somali government advocate, the diplomats said.
Yemen is proving to be of central importance for arming Shabaab, the monitors' reporting shows, both because it is feeding arms into northern Somalia and because it has become a playing field for Iranian interests in Somalia and elsewhere.