The #Yemen conflict is a source of division within the Middle East, as Saudi Arabia backs a coalition supporting the internationally recognized Yemen government and #Iran backs the Houthi rebels, who are currently in control of a vast amount of the country. The conflict has created a humanitarian crisis, as basic services and medical care are not available for large portions of the population.
In response to the conflict, the UN had issued an arms embargo. A recent report from a #UN panel of experts, however, indicates that Iran broke that embargo, by failing to block supplies to the Houthi rebels. The missiles that reached the rebels were shot at Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have both accused Iran of being a part of that attack.
“The panel had identified missile remnants, related military equipment and military unmanned aerial vehicles that are of Iranian origin and were introduced into Yemen after the imposition of the targeted arms embargo,” said the report to the UN Security Council. “As a result, the panel finds that the Islamic Republic of Iran is in non-compliance with paragraph 14 of resolution 2216.”
Iran’s government has denied that they armed the Houthis, even going so far as to accuse U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley of presenting “fabricated” evidence that a missile fired at the Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh airport was Iranian-made. The issue is that the attack took the conflict out of Yemen and has now created the potential for a regional fight. Saudi Arabia has concluded that Iran is responsible and called it an “act of war.”
The Saudi Arabia foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said last year, “Iran cannot lob missiles at Saudi cities and towns and expect us not to take steps.”
When the UN experts traveled to Saudi Arabia in November and again in December, they inspected the remnants of missiles that fired into the country by Houthis on four different occasions. The results of their study of the evidence concluded that the missiles were consistent with the features of Iranian missiles and were likely made by the same manufacturer.
The report’s authors concluded that Iran hadn’t taken the proper care to prevent direct or indirect supplying of arms to the Houthi rebels. However, it stopped short of saying that Iran actively supplied weapons to the Houthis.
The international community is rightly concerned about the civilians in Yemen, as the country has almost ceased to function since the Saudi-led coalition came into the country in support of the Yemen government. Air attacks have primarily impacted the civilians and non-combatants.
“Instead of a single state, there are warring statelets, and no one side has the political support or the military strength to reunite the country or achieve victory on the battlefield,” said the UN report.
Iran has denied supplying the Houthis, but has indicated that they sympathize with the rebel group and noted that its missile attacks on Saudi Arabia were in retaliation for the country’s interference in Yemen.
Iran has not issued a response to the UN report, which was finished almost a month after Haley showed reporters a display of recovered war debris, which she claimed was proof of Iran’s involvement in arming the Houthis. It is not clear that the UN will be issuing any punitive actions against Iran or if the report will impact the opinions of various international factions.
The Trump administration has ramped up its efforts to pressure Iran over a range of concerns, most notably the sanctions that were waived as part of the 2015 nuclear agreement. President Trump released a statement with points that must be included in any amendment to the nuclear agreement, or he will not waive the sanctions again in four months.
The Trump administration has also authorized new sanctions on 14 Iranian individuals and entities that the U.S. sees as responsible for repressing the recent protests, as well as being part of the Iranian ballistic missile program.