“Yemen is where the real proxy war is going on and winning the battle in Yemen will help define the balance of power in the Middle East.”
Iran is increasing its military support for Houthi forces in Yemen through the transfer of new technology and advanced weaponry. According to Taimur Khan, a writer at The National, the technology transfer includes anti-ship cruise missiles, sea/naval mines, speedboats and even a drone boat loaded with explosives. In addition, Conflict Armament Research (CAR), a UK-based organization that identifies and tracks conventional weapons, in its March 2017 report, “Iranian technology transfers to Yemen,” said it had evidence showing that the Qasef-1 UAV drone was transferred from Iran to Houthi rebels. Similarly, Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, spokesman for the Arab coalition fighting the Houthis, claimed that the rebels has received Kornet anti-tank weapons from Iran.
According to The Trumpet, Iran is deeply engaged in training, arming and funding the Shiite group, which currently controls the western third of Yemeni territory. Similarly, Reuters’ military sources indicated that in recent months Iran has increased its long-standing support, including providing special attention from its foreign fighting force, the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The sources also claimed that this strategy mirrors the one used in Syria where it supported Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
Iran is using ships to deliver supplies to Yemen either directly or via Somalia, bypassing coalition efforts to intercept shipments. Military sources say once the ships arrive in the region, the cargoes are transferred to small fishing boats, which are hard to spot because they are so common in these waters and due to the fact that policing around 2,700 km of coastline being impossible.
As a result, the rebels have been using increasingly sophisticated weapons and tactics that analysts say are the result of Iranian training and equipment specifically for use against naval and maritime targets. In addition, Conflict Armament Research indicates that drones are “used by Houthi forces to attack coalition missile-defense systems.” Evidence of more sophisticated equipment suspected of being used by the Houthis has emerged in recent attacks.
Regarding the purpose of Iranian’s increased military support, Jerusalem Post relates it to its effort to build a stranglehold on the Middle East. A senior Iranian official told Reuters that “Yemen is where the real proxy war is going on and winning the battle in Yemen will help define the balance of power in the Middle East.”
Despite the surfacing of more proof and accusation against Iran’s proactive support for Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the country rejects these claims blaming the deepening crisis on Saudi Arabia. Any transfer of weapons to Yemen is in contrary with the UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and the Security Council’s embargo on the export of weapons by Iran.
The civil war in Yemen has created one of the world’s greatest humanitarian disasters where according to United Nations estimates, more than two-thirds of Yemen’s entire population needs some kind of assistance. Seven million people are hungry and 10,000 have been killed in the war.
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