Through their association with Iran, Yemen's Houthis (Ansarallah) have been able to gain access to lethal weapons that were not previously present in the country, to devastating effect, experts told Al-Mashareq.
With arms supplied by the Iranian regime, the Yemeni militia has been able to inflict deadly violence in Yemen and in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which has widened the circle of violence and exacerbated the conflict, they said.
The Arab coalition, which has been fighting the Houthis in support of Yemen's legitimate government, has presented evidence that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been supplying the Houthis with weapons.
The US also has presented evidence that implicates Iran in the supply of advanced weapons to its proxies in Yemen, the Houthis, including various types of missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
On December 14th, 2017, then-US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley unveiled previously classified information, intending to prove Iran violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231 by providing the Houthis with arms.
She presented this as "undeniable" evidence that a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis at Saudi Arabia the previous month was Iranian-made, AFP reported.
The Arab coalition has on several occasions displayed the remains of missiles and UAVs the Houthis have fired at the kingdom.
Military experts have confirmed these weapons are similar to Iranian-manufactured missiles and UAVs, journalist Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.
Evidence of Iran's involvement
Most of the weapons the Houthis have been using were not seen in Yemen before the militia's coup of September 2014, Ahmed said.
Iran's provision of arms to the Houthis dates back to 2013, he added, noting that two arms-laden Iranian vessels seized in Yemeni territorial waters in 2013 and 2015, the Jihan 1 and Jihan 2, "are proof of this".
Iran has used Yemen's 2,500-kilometre coastline, Yemeni islands and traditional boats (dhows) to smuggle weapons to the Houthis, he said.
The Houthis also have carried out attacks in the Red Sea with naval mines, which are new weapons for them, he said, noting that this confirms the Iranian regime's support for the militia, as Iran uses the same weapons elsewhere.
"All this evidence proves Iran's involvement and violation of Security Council resolutions on Yemen," he said.
The UN Security Council Sanctions Committee confirmed the connection between Iranian weapons and those used by the Houthis in their attacks on Saudi Arabia, Yemen's Deputy Minister of Human Rights Nabil Abdul Hafeez told Al-Mashareq.
"The UN panel of experts in Yemen confirmed that the Qasef-1 UAV fired by the Houthis at the kingdom has the same design, dimensions and capacity of the Ababil T UAV manufactured by the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company," he said.
This confirms the IRGC’s involvement in attacks that have killed and wounded innocent victims in Yemen and in Saudi Arabia, Abdul Hafeez said.
Weapons used by the Houthis such as naval mines and UAVs "are very similar to Iranian weapons, and confirm Iran's role in prolonging the war", he said.
IRGC experts present in Yemen
Evidence of the presence of IRGC experts in Yemen to support the Houthis includes "the IRGC’s use of the direct flight route between Sanaa and Tehran launched after the Houthi coup in September 2014", Abdul Hafeez said.
There were no direct flights between Tehran and Sanaa prior to this date, he said, but since then, there have been two flights a day between them, transporting IRGC military and educational cadres to Sanaa.
The weapons used by the Houthis are the same as those possessed and used not only by the IRGC, but also by Lebanon's Hizbullah, Abaad Centre for Strategic Studies director Abdulsalam Mohammed told Al-Mashareq.
"There are IRGC units that smuggle and deliver weapons to the Houthis that Yemen did not possess before the Houthi coup," he said.
These include short-range missiles, UAVs, explosives, mines and anti-armour missiles, he said.
"These actions have widened the cycle of violence in Yemen and extended it into Saudi Arabia, with the targeting of economic oil installations and civilian airports," Mohammed said.