Arms dealer's assets frozen

Yemen's leading arms dealer, Fares Mana'a, has had his assets frozen by the UN Security Council and the US Treasury.

Mana'a served for some time as head of the committee mediating between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels, while allegedly simultaneously supplying the rebels with weapons. His brother was governor of Saada province, where the rebellion originated.

He was named in a list of illegal arms traffickers issued by the Yemeni government last October and was also named in connection with a Chinese weapons ship discovered at Hodeida port in the same month.

According to the US Treasury notice issued on Tuesday, Mana'a holds two Yemeni diplomatic passports and one ordinary Yemeni passport.

The international action against Mana'a is connected with his activities in Somalia rather than Yemen. The Security Council statement says he has "has directly or indirectly supplied, sold or transferred to Somalia arms or related material in violation of the arms embargo". It adds:

"In 2004, Mana'a was involved in weapons contracts from Eastern Europe for weapons allegedly marketed to Somali fighters. Despite the Somalia UN arms embargo since 1992, Mana'a's interest in trafficking arms into Somalia can be traced back at least to 2003. Mana'a made an offer to buy thousands of arms in 2003 from Eastern Europe, and indicated that he planned to sell some of the arms in Somalia."

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 15 April 2010.