Politics

Iran's support for Houthis stymies efforts to end war

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

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A member of the Yemeni pro-government forces looks for mines on the eastern outskirts of al-Hodeidah on November 14th, 2018. [Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP]

Later this month, the conflict in Yemen that began in 2015 when the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) staged a coup in Sanaa will enter its sixth year.

The conflict has caused displacement and destruction on a massive scale and has worsened living conditions in the country, where Yemenis are contending with what the UN has termed the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Yet there is still no end in sight -- a state of affairs that many blame on Iran's interference in Yemeni affairs and continued support of the Houthis.

During a February 19th meeting with German Ambassador to Yemen Carola Müller-Holtkemper, Yemen's Prime Minister Moeen Abdulmalik accused Iran of prolonging the conflict and hindering international efforts to bring peace.

He accused Iran of violating UN Security Council resolutions on Yemen, especially legislation that pertains to the ban on supplying arms to the Houthis.

"The international community must play an active role in stopping these Iranian interferences and exposing Tehran's projects to export havoc and chaos," he said.

UN Security Council Resolution 2511, of February 25th, reaffirmed the council's strong commitment to the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen.

It also authorised a one-year extension of the asset freeze and travel ban imposed in 2014 on individuals or entities threatening peace, security and stability in Yemen, and reaffirmed the provisions of a 2015 arms embargo.

Iran is continuing to supply the Houthis with weapons, "deeply undermining the prospects of peace", Rodney Hunter, political co-ordinator for the US Mission to the UN said at the February 25th session of the Security Council.

Iran undermines peace prospects

Weapons linked to Iran that were seized aboard vessels in the Red Sea on November 25th and February 9th were assessed to have been destined for the Houthis, in violation of the 2015 arms embargo.

"The continued Iranian support to the Houthis with modern and advanced weapons enabled the Houthis to carry out limited military attacks and strikes," Deputy Minister of Human Rights Nabil Abdul Hafeez told Al-Mashareq.

The ongoing smuggling of "arms shipments, ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) gave the Houthis the strength to continue the war to achieve Iran's goals", he said.

The reason for the continued failure of peace talks and agreements signed with the Houthis is that the proposed settlements are incompatible with Iran's interests, Abdul Hafeez said.

"Stopping the war in Yemen does not serve Iran's interests," he added, noting that this is why the Houthis have repeatedly stymied peace agreements that seek to bring the war to an end.

The Houthis have not implemented the Stockholm Agreement primarily because "the decision to implement it is not in their hands, but rather in the hands of Iran, which is trying to prolong the war", Abdul Hafeez said.

"Iran is controlling the path of war and peace in Yemen," he added, noting that this is a political calculation that does not take into account the military and civilian victims and the scale of devastation that has been inflicted on Yemen.

Smuggling arms via Red Sea

The Stockholm Agreement supported Iran's interests in that it would have prevented Yemeni forces from storming al-Hodeidah province, political analyst Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.

Iran has been supplying weapons to the Houthis via the Red Sea coast, he said, noting that a return to government hands would have closed this illicit arms pipeline and prevented the weapons smuggling from continuing.

The recent seizure of weapons in the Red Sea makes it clear that Iran has been smuggling weapons into Yemen through this channel, he added.

Experts from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) "play a significant role in the development of Houthi weapons", Abaad Studies and Research Centre director Abdulsalam Mohammed told Al-Mashareq.

"There is a special unit for smuggling weapons from Iran to the Houthis, and there are experts who assemble the disassembled parts and upgrade existing missiles as needed, and also supervise missile launches," he said.

Iran's influence in the region has been dangerous, Mohammed said.

And with every year the war in Yemen drags on, he added, "Iranian weapons that threaten Gulf security develop further, and the Houthis acquire more missiles, giving Iran full control over the decision of war and peace in Yemen".

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This is a lie.

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O, God, please liberate Yemen of the invaders.

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