The head of the US Central Command discussed support for Yemen’s army and anti-smuggling efforts during a visit on Wednesday that a former US envoy to the country said was a warning to Iran.
Gen Joseph Votel’s visit to Aden, the interim capital, was his first official trip to Yemen since the civil war broke out in 2015. He arrived with a military delegation for a day-long visit and met the Yemeni military chief of staff Gen Taher Al Aqili and other high-ranking officers.
The trip followed visits this week to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the leading members of the Arab military coalition supporting Yemen’s government against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. It also comes days after the US Navy seized a large consignment of light arms being smuggled through the Gulf of Aden.
Gen Votel’s discussions were focused on tackling “the threat of terrorist militias and fighting smuggling”, the Yemeni state news agency reported, as well as “efforts to restore the state and put an end to the coup by the Iran-backed Houthi militia”.
Yemen’s embassy in Washington said support to the Yemeni coast guard and special forces was on the agenda as well.