Lethal explosives deployed in Yemen linked to Iran

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


A magnifying glass shows part of the guidance system to an Iranian Qiam Ballistic Missile on display after US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley unveiled previously classified information, intending to prove Iran violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231 by providing Yemen's Houthis with arms on December 14th, 2017. [Jim Watson/AFP]

Arab coalition forces have been recovering an increasing number of bombs camouflaged as rocks in various locations in Yemen, according to a weapons-tracking group that has linked these devices to Iran.

In a March report, Conflict Armament Research, which identifies and tracks conventional weapons and ammunition in contemporary armed conflicts, said these devices closely resemble devices recovered in Iraq and Lebanon.

The devices recovered in Iraq and Lebanon have been previously linked, forensically, to Iran, the report said, noting that those recovered in Yemen are of similar design and construction.

Classified as radio-controlled improvised explosive devices (RCIEDs), these bombs are armed by radio control and initiated using passive infrared switches.

They are typically concealed in synthetic rocks.

"Identical construction, and the use of hand annotated, serialised components, suggest that the electronics kits used in the Yemen RCIEDs were constructed in bulk and potentially in the same workshop," the report said.

"Iran uses identical components in a number of improvised weapon systems, which it has clandestinely supplied to groups in Yemen and Bahrain."

Influx of new technology

The Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) have used improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in significant quantities to target Arab coalition forces throughout the current conflict in Yemen.

"Although most are rudimentary in design, the number of comparatively more sophisticated IEDs in Yemen has increased, which speaks to a recent influx of technology," according to the report.

Between April 2017 and February 2018, CAR field investigation teams conducted six missions to Yemen to document weapons and IEDs seized from the Houthis.

The teams have documented dozens of synthetic rock-concealed IEDs recovered by Arab coalition forces along motorways connecting al-Mokha and Dhubab, al-Mokha and Taez, and al-Mokha and Khokha, CAR said.

Multiple strands of information suggest that Iran orchestrated the transfer of technology and material to the Houthis in Yemen to assist in the manufacture of RCIEDs, the report concluded.

"Camouflaged mines built with unconventional expertise are one of the destructive techniques that Iran has introduced into the inflamed Yemeni landscape," Yemeni researcher Yassin al-Tamimi told Al-Mashareq.

He described the CAR report's findings as "one of many documented evidences" that the Houthis are part of Iran's attempt to export its Islamic Revolution to the countries of the region.

The report found evidence that suggests Iranian support to the Houthis began as early as 2013, revealing that material documented by CAR is identical to components previously seized aboard the Jihan 1.

Yemeni forces seized the Jihan 1, an arms-laden cargo ship from Iran, in the Gulf of Aden in January 2013, and international forces have intercepted weapons shipments from Iran to Yemen on at least four separate occasions.

Dangerous to civilians

The Houthis have used weapons supplied by Iran to kill thousands of civilians and military personnel in Yemen, al-Tamimi said.

"There is plenty of evidence that Iran is supplying the Houthis with qualitative weapons that are increasing their capabilities to undermine regional security," political analyst Waddah al-Jalil told Al-Mashareq.

"These bombs have undoubtedly been supplied to the Houthis by Iran, as it is the only party that supplies the Houthis with weapons and provides them with support," he said.

"These bombs are very dangerous to civilians because they are camouflaged and indistinguishable from the surrounding environment," he said.

It is important that Yemeni and international organisations document "mine explosion incidents, compile a list of their victims and provide assistance and support to their families", he said.

All necessary resources to have these mines removed and spare civilians from their dangers must be provided, al-Jalil added.

Iranian experts in Yemen

"The use of such weapons prolongs the war and increases the number of victims," Abaad Centre director Abdulsalam Mohammed told Al-Mashareq.

Many of the victims are civilians, he said, including children, who have been killed or have suffered disabilities after encountering these concealed devices.

It is well known that Iran provides logistical and military support to the Houthis as part of its sectarian project in the region, Mohammed said.

"Iran has been working for some time on smuggling weapon parts, missile components and explosives via known smuggling routes," he said.

Iranian experts are working in Yemen on the development of conventional weapons and assembly of smuggled missile components, he added.

Iran also has dispatched Hizbullah and Iranian experts to upgrade old ballistic missiles and assemble new missiles that arrive through smuggling, he said.

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