New evidence has emerged that reveals Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been spying for the Houthis (Ansarallah) in addition to smuggling arms to the militia.
In a February 16th report, Sanaa-based independent news site almawqea.net revealed that six IRGC experts had been killed in an Arab coalition airstrike on the Yemeni city of Taez.
The IRGC experts had been spying on the telecommunications network for the benefit of the Houthis, according to the report, which also revealed that Yemeni forces have dismantled more than 30 explosive devices outfitted with cameras.
The Iranian experts' bodies were transported to Ibb province, and then moved to Sanaa by the Iran-backed Houthis, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the IRGC's elite Quds Force has been overseeing the smuggling of arms to the Houthis by land and sea, political analyst Yassin al-Tamimi told Al-Mashareq.
This effort is being carried out with the help of a network of smugglers, conspirators and accomplices who handle their delivery inside Yemen, he said.
Geopolitical and ideological ambitions
Some weapons destined for the Houthis are smuggled by boat to Yemen's southern shores, and others to its Red Sea coast, al-Tamimi said, where the Iranian regime’s ambitions include gaining control of the Bab al-Mandeb strait.
"Iran’s ambitions are geopolitical and ideological at the same time, and each of these factors affects the other," he said, noting that the political, media and even religious discourse of the Houthis has been greatly influenced by the IRGC.
"At the geopolitical level, Iran planned to empower [the Houthis] to take control of Bab al-Mandeb," he said.
This move would give Iran an "important card" with which to influence the region and impose its agenda, he added.
This should not be allowed to happen, he said, expressing his hope that the international community would "take serious action" to ensure Iran abides by the terms of UN resolution 2216 of 2015.
The UN resolution imposes sanctions, including a general assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo, on Abdulmalik al-Huthi, the Houthis' leader.
It also calls on all parties to immediately and unconditionally end violence, for the Houthis to withdraw from all areas seized during the current conflict, relinquish arms seized from military and security institutions, and cease all actions falling within the authority of the legitimate government.
Violation of international sanctions
Despite these sanctions, the IRGC's Quds Force is working to "fuel conflict in the region by supporting the Houthis with various weapons and providing them with all forms of support", political researcher Waddah al-Jalil told Al-Mashareq.
The Quds Force is smuggling weapons to Yemen via several routes, he said, in particular via "Eritrean islands that it uses as launchpads to reach the ports of al-Hodeidah and Kamran [island]".
It also uses remote parts of the coastline that are not monitored by Arab coalition aircraft and ships, he said, adding that there are land smuggling routes via the desert and ports between the Omani border and al-Bayda province.
"These routes were inherited by the Houthis from [former president] Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had dozens of intelligence cells in those areas that are familiar with the smuggling routes and are experienced in getting past checkpoints," he said.
The smuggling of weapons from Iran to the Houthis is being carried out by highest level Quds Force commanders, said political analyst Adnan al-Humairi.
Iran has various objectives in supporting groups or militias in several countries in the region, he told Al-Mashareq.
The Quds Force's weapon smuggling, particularly of missiles to the Houthis, is a breach of the UN arms embargo, al-Humairi said, calling on the Security Council to fulfill its responsibilities to maintain regional and international security.