New reports have shown that the US was directly involved in destroying Yemen’s air defence systems back in 2004, through pressure exerted by top US officials for on then Yemeni government led by Ali Abdullah Saleh. This was revealed by a security official in a statement on Thursday.
The statement affirmed that destruction of Yemen’s defences came under the pretext of US “fear that Al Qaeda elements might seize and use the air defence system to attack on civilian airports.” Using this excuse, Yemeni defences were utterly dismantled, which has contributed to the ease with which Saudi war planes have been able to bomb Yemen since 2015.
In 2004, a US delegation began collecting and destroying Yemeni missiles with the help of Ronco corporation, which is specialized in dealing with explosives.
“The first batch of air defense system, including 1078 SA-7 GRAIL (Strela), is a shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missile system. 1,161 other missiles (…) were destroyed in 52 batteries in al-Jaddan area of Ma’rib province in 2005, and a second batch of 102 SAM missiles were destroyed in 2009 in Halhalan valley in the same province,” the statement explained.
The official affirmed that 1, 263 air defence missiles of the Yemeni army, along with 103 batteries were destroyed by the agreement signed between the United States and the Saudi-backed leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The American delegation included the US Department of State, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, Dennis Hadrick, liaison officer Santo Polisi and foreign affairs official Laurie Freeman.