As the war of words between the U.S. and Iran continues to rage on, the situation in Yemen continues to decline. The Houthi rebels are continuing to fight against the Saudi-led coalition supporting the internationally recognized Yemen government. In a confidential report to the UN Security Council, a panel of UN experts indicated that it continued to believe that short-range ballistic missiles and other weapons were transferred by the Iranian government after the weapons embargo was put into place in 2015.
The Iranian regime repeatedly denied that it had been arming the rebels, but recent inspections of weaponry fired by the rebels shows characteristics similar to those produced in Iran. The panel, which produced the report, traveled to Saudi Arabia to examine weapons used by the Houthis. The 10 missiles examined had markings that suggested Iranian origin.
“It seems that despite the targeted arms embargo, the Houthis continue to have access to ballistic missiles and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to continue and possibly intensify their campaign against targets in KSA (Saudi Arabia),” according to the report.
Iran denies links to rebels
Iran issued a statement to the panel, arguing that they have not been involved in supplying weapons to the Houthis and that the weapons used are domestic versions of the SCUD missile that was part of Yemen’s weapons arsenal before the start of the war.
There is also an ongoing investigation into information that points to the Houthis obtaining an allowance of donated fuel from the Iranian regime, to the tune of $30 million monthly. The Iranian government has also denied that they have provided any such contributions to the Yemen rebels.
As part of their findings, the panel also found power converters manufactured by a Japanese company, as well as markings that point to a Russian connection. Both of these findings are under investigation.
Questions remain despite investigation
While there appears to be some connection between the weapons and Iran, it is unclear when the parts of the weapons were sent to Yemen and whether they were part of an effort to support the Houthis.
The panel also opened an investigation into air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition, which possibly violated international law by hitting civilian buildings, including a gas station and commercial vessels. The Houthi rebels are also accused of widespread use of landmines.
The war between the two sides started with the rebels versus the Yemen government, but in 2015, Saudi Arabia led a coalition against the rebels in defense of the internationally recognized Yemen government. The conflict left approximately 10,000 dead and uprooted thousands more. The United Nations considers the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.