By illegally supplying the Houthis (Ansarallah) with lethal weapons, including parts for ballistic missiles, Iran seeks to pursue its own interests at the expense of the Yemeni people, experts tell Al-Mashareq.
According to Abdulsalam Mohammed, who heads Yemen's Abaad Centre for Strategic Studies, Iran relies on two units to smuggle weapons into Yemen.
These are Unit 400 and Unit 190 of the elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC-QF), he told Al-Mashareq.
IRGC-QF Unit 190
According to a study published by the Abaad Centre in February, IRGC-QF Unit 190 "is responsible for the smuggling of weapons and modern technologies to wars outside the borders of Iran".
Since the 1980s, Unit 190 has formed large weapon smuggling networks across the geopolitical map of the Middle East, Mohammed said.
These smuggling networks make use of the state’s capabilities -- aircraft, ships, intelligence and political influence -- to carry out their operations, he added.
"This is a special unit of the Quds Force responsible for smuggling weapons to its militias and areas of conflict, including Yemen," Mohammed said.
The unit dedicated to Yemen "uses a variety of methods to transport arms, which are hidden among [non-military] goods to maintain secrecy and maximize the chances that the cargo reaches its destination", he said.
Efforts are taken to ensure these shipments will not be tied to Iran if they fall into the hands of any other force, he said, adding that weapons are usually concealed inside boxes and placed in a container among non-military goods.
Meanwhile, Unit 400 focuses on planning and conducting attacks outside Iran. It transfers military aid to armed groups around the world and co-ordinates their activities to prepare them to carry out attacks that serve the interests of the Iranian regime
Hassan Moezzi: smuggling weapons to Yemen
IRGC-QF Unit 190 specialises in transporting military equipment to IRGC affiliates in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, said Sheyar Turko, who has been researching the financing of the IRGC.
"Hassan Moezzi is an officer of the 190 external operations unit of IRGC-QF, and is working with a group of 20 officers in Yemen tasked with transporting arms, ammunition and military equipment to the country," he told Al-Mashareq.
"Moezzi is known to have a close relationship with Quds Force deputy commander Maj. Gen. Ismael Qaani," he said, and has played a prominent role in co-ordinating the smuggling, reception and distribution of smuggled weapons.
He served as the liaison with the authorities in Iran, Turko said, particularly Mehdi Tayeb, head of the Iranian regime’s Amariyoun cyber-intelligence unit.
He also has a role in making arrangements for the reception and assignment in Yemen of IRGC and Hizbullah officers and elements, Turko said.
"Moezzi is not only responsible for the smuggling of conventional weapons and fighters, he also is directly responsible for the transport of ballistic missile engines, dry fuel and rocket explosives to Yemen," he said.
The Houthis would not have these weapons if it were not for the Iranian intervention, he noted.
Moezzi also has been implicated in the smuggling of metal fuselages and other material that enabled the Houthis to manufacture or assemble long-range ballistic missiles, Turko said.
"Iran has several experts in Yemen, such as commander Hassan Moezzi," said Adel al-Shujaa of the General People's Congress (GPC) general committee.
"It is only natural that the IRGC supplies its proxies in Yemen with weapons and assistance to strengthen them and [help them] continue the battle," he told Al-Mashareq.
"Iran has given nothing but death to Yemen and the Yemenis, as it is training the Houthis on the industry of death through camouflaged mines and bombs," he said.
Bombs camouflaged as rocks have killed many civilians, sparking public outrage, al-Shujaa said.
"The Iranian support for the Houthis with weapons and money has undermined the stability of Yemen and the region," said GPC media department director Abdul Hafeez al-Nahari.
So has the presence of Iranian military personnel, he told Al-Mashareq, "be they elements of IRGC-QF, such as commander Hassan Moezzi, or others".
"They are smuggling and re-assembling missiles and weapons in Yemen and training the Houthis on how to assemble these weapons and manufacture camouflaged bombs and mines," he added.
According to Turko, "what Moezzi and other Iranian officers are doing in Yemen can be likened to what is happening in Syria and Lebanon".
In all three cases, he said, the public is being duped into believing that its intervention is in the interest of the people, when it is only intervention to serve the interests of the IRGC and expand its influence in the region.