DUBAI (Dispatches) – Amnesty International accused the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday of diverting arms supplied by Western and other states to "unaccountable militias accused of war crimes” in Yemen.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia are leading a military coalition, including local forces drawn from various Yemeni factions, that is trying to restore the former government ousted from power in 2014 by the Houthi Ansarullah group.
"Emirati forces receive billions of dollars’ worth of arms from Western states and others, only to syphon them off to militias in Yemen that answer to no-one and are known to be committing war crimes,” Amnesty said in a statement.
"The proliferation of these fighting forces is a recipe for disaster for Yemeni civilians who have already been killed in their thousands, while millions more are on the brink of famine as a direct result of the war,” the human rights group said.
The UAE government media office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Amnesty statement.
U.S. news channel CNN also reported on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia and its allies have handed over U.S.-made weapons to al-Qaeda-linked terrorists and other terrorist groups fighting in the kingdom’s war on Yemen.
Serial numbers and footage obtained by CNN showed that heavy weaponry sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates was passed down to terrorists as part of its war effort in Yemen.
Some of these arms were later captured by Houthi fighters after they were left abandoned or sold to other groups.
Abu Dhabi and Riyadh had reportedly given the arms to curry favor and loyalty among local groups fighting in Yemen.
Among the weapons given to these groups by Saudi Arabia and the UAE include Mine-Resistant Armored Protection Vehicles (MRAP) and Oshkosh armored vehicles - military hardware that is used by the U.S. army.
U.S. military officials who spoke to CNN said the UAE and Saudi Arabia had violated the terms of its defense agreement by handing over arms to third parties.
The officials added that there was an ongoing investigation into the matter.
Yemen has been wracked by violence since 2015, when Saudi Arabia launched a devastating air campaign aimed at returning a former fugitive president to power.
Tens of thousands of people, including civilians, are believed to have been killed and the UN estimates that around 14 million Yemenis are at risk of famine.
Houthi Ansarullah fighters who fight against the Saudi-led coalition stand guard during a rally to mark the third anniversary of the Houthis’ takeover of the Yemeni capital, in Sanaa, Yemen.