Iran’s arms shipments to Houthis fuel war in Yemen, experts say
The latest Saudi-led-coalition seizure of an Iranian arms shipment destined for the Houthis is further evidence of Iran’s destabilizing role in war-torn Yemen, according to government officials and experts. “This is concrete proof of Iran’s involvement in Yemen,” Salem Al-Khanbashi, the deputy prime minister of Yemen, told Arab News. At a press conference in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Monday, the Saudi-led coalition announced intercepting a dhow carrying hundreds of weapons, made in Iran, early this month, including missiles, sniper rifles and ammunition. The dhow was seized off the Yemeni coastal town of Mocha on the Red Sea and was heading to the Houthis, the coalition said.
The Yemeni government has swiftly demanded that the international community put an end to Iranian meddling in Yemen in their sending arms shipments that fuel the war to the Houthis.
“There must be strong punishments against this country that supplies Houthis with those advanced weapons,” Al-Khanbashi said.
Even before the start of the war 5 years ago, consecutive Yemeni governments accused Iran of smuggling arms to the Houthis, enabling them to keep fighting despite coming under heavy attacks by government and Saudi-led coalition forces. The Yemeni coast guard has intercepted many similar arms shipments off the Yemeni coast over the past several years.
“There is a continuous smuggling process that resupplies Houthis with advanced weapons. The national army forces have seized many Iranian weapons from Houthis during fighting,” Al-Khanbashi said. Gerald Feierstein, the former US ambassador to Yemen, said that the Iranians supported the Houthis with weapons and trained them in using them long before the start of the Saudiled military operation in Yemen.
“The Iranian engagement began long before the outbreak of the civil war or the Saudi coalition’s intervention. It’s clear that the Iranians saw the Houthi movement as an opportunity to put pressure on Saudi Arabia and to threaten its southern border,” he told Arab News in an interview in March.
This is concrete proof of Iran’s involvement in Yemen.