A new report revealed that Iran is violating UN Resolution 2216 by smuggling weapons to its allies in Yemen via Somalia and other countries despite international sanctions that prohibit these transactions.
In a report issued November 30th , international investigators said they had found a suspected "weapon pipeline" from Iran through Somalia to Yemen, where the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) are battling the government.
Iran has been smuggling arms to the Houthis in Yemen via sea, with arms shipments initially arriving in Somalia, according to the Conflict Armament Research (CAR) report.
CAR, which is based in Britain and funded primarily by the EU, said it analysed photographs of weapons confiscated from dhows during inspection operations conducted by Australian warship HMAS Darwin and French frigate FS Provence.
The report was based on inspections conducted in February and March, during which the two ships seized arms smuggled aboard dhows in the Arabian Sea.
The two vessels conducted the inspections within the framework of an international maritime navigation monitoring mission that is unrelated to the ongoing war in Yemen, the CAR report said.
The Australian warship seized more than 2,000 pieces of weaponry aboard a dhow headed for Somalia, including Iranian-made rocket launchers, the report said, while the French frigate seized 2,000 assault rifles "characteristic of Iranian manufacture" and 64 Iranian-made sniper rifles, among other weapons.
Meanwhile, UAE forces reported recovering an anti-tank guided missile in Yemen, which CAR said is part of "the same production run" as those on the dhow, and "supports allegations that the weapons originated in Iran and that the dhow's cargo was destined for Yemen".
French government sources said the dhow was headed to Somalia "for possible transhipment to Yemen", CAR said.
Machine guns with the same serial number sequence were found on both dhows, the report added, "which suggests that the materiel derived from the same original consignment".
Iran funnels arms to Houthis
The CAR report provides further confirmation that "Iran is involved in the rebellion and coup in Yemen", Abaad Centre for Strategic Studies director Abdulsalam Mohammed told Al-Mashareq.
The actions of the Iranian regime "threaten international maritime oil transport routes and seek to threaten the security of the Gulf region", he said.
The report reveals "the source of the weapons of the Houthis in Yemen, and in particular how they are acquiring the heat-seeking, anti-armour and anti-ship missiles that targeted ships in Bab al-Mandeb strait ", he added.
Iran's actions violate UN Resolution 2216, adopted in 2015 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, Mohammed said, adding that the regime's interference in Yemen's conflict makes the "region's future more uncertain".
Iran smuggles arms to Yemen by way of Somalia, Mohammed said, adding that Yemen has a long coastline that cannot be closely monitored.
"The arms are dropped at various islands then transported by fishing boats, because monitoring is only conducted in regional waters, where some of the arms shipments were seized," he said.
"When the arms are transported to Somalia, they are dropped off in leased areas supervised by gangs, then transported in small loads [to Yemen] aboard fishing boats, which are difficult to inspect," he said.
"Based on confirmed information, coalition aircraft have attacked some of those boats, yet smuggling continues," Mohammed said.
Coalition warships ordinarily inspect non-military cargo ships suspected of carrying or smuggling weapons, he said, adding that Iranian vessels positioned in regional waters may be assisting the smuggling of weapons into Yemen.
Entry via unofficial ports
"According to circulating reports, weapons are entering via unofficial ports in Shabwa province and through smuggling routes from Oman," media professional Musa al-Nimrani told Al-Mashareq.
Some are seized at sea by the coalition or naval forces of other countries, and others are seized on land, on roads or at checkpoints, he said, yet supplies still reach the Houthis.
A number of Iran-linked weapons have been recovered by Yemeni forces at positions lost by the Houthis on several fronts, he said.
"Yemen has a long coastline that stretches from the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean in the east to the western coast on the Red Sea, as well as many islands scattered along these coastlines, providing an opportunity to smuggle weapons," said strategic expert Adnan al-Humairi.
The reliance of the coastal provinces on fishing has contributed to the success of smuggling activities, which are a means for some to earn a living amid the economic hardships made worse by the current conflict, he said.
The Iranian regime "is using all illegal means to achieve its objectives and smuggle weapons to its allies any way it can", he said, "including transporting the weapons to Somalia and from there to Yemen".
Al-Humairi called on the international community to do more to stop Iran's smuggling of weapons to its allies in Yemen and to work to bring an end to the war, which is compounding the suffering of the Yemeni people.