Iran must be punished for supplying weapons to Houthis

Iran must be punished for supplying weapons to Houthis

Iran must be punished for supplying weapons to Houthis
A Houthi militant armed with a rocket launcher, Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 21, 2019. (AFP)
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The Iranian regime has been facing ongoing protests for four months now due to its citizens’ economic, political, religious and social grievances against the theocratic establishment. Nevertheless, this has not compelled the authorities to address the people’s demands. And, in spite of the serious domestic crisis it is encountering, the regime has also not halted or cut down on its illegal smuggling of weapons to its proxies.
The Iranian regime uses several methods to smuggle weapons, including ships and commercial airlines. Last week, a shipment of more than 2,100 Iranian assault rifles bound for the Houthis was intercepted by the US Navy within international waters in the Gulf of Oman. The shipment was destined for Yemen, based on a statement from the US military. “The illegal flow of weapons from Iran through international waterways has a destabilizing effect on the region,” said Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, the commander of US Central Command.
In November, the US Navy also intercepted a “large quantity” of explosive material in the Gulf of Oman that was heading toward Yemen. A statement from US Naval Forces Central Command reported: “On Nov. 8, US 5th Fleet intercepted a fishing vessel in the Gulf of Oman smuggling lethal aid, including a large quantity of explosive material, from Iran to Yemen.”
The Iranian regime appears to have ratcheted up its efforts to illegally supply weapons to terrorist groups and its proxies, particularly the Houthis. When it comes to smuggling and supplying the Houthis with weapons, the Iranian regime is generally involved in four major actions. First is the supply, sale or transfer of short-range ballistic missiles known as Burkan-2H. Second is the supply of field storage tanks, which are utilized for storing liquid bipropellant oxidizers that can be used in the development of ballistic missiles. Third is the supply of unmanned aerial vehicles, such as the Ababil-T and Qasef-1. And fourth is the provision of ballistic missile technology.
It is important to point out that the Iranian regime’s actions are in direct violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which imposed an arms embargo on Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Even the UN has previously disclosed: “The panel has now identified strong indicators of the supply of arms-related material manufactured in, or emanating from, Iran.”
As long as the Houthis, or any other of Iran’s proxies or militia groups, advance the ideological, geopolitical and parochial interests of the Iranian regime, Tehran appears determined to not let them run out of weapons or ammunition. This ought to offer insights into the tactics and long-term strategies of the Iranian-trained and armed proxies across the region. Their plans and agendas seem to be built on four pillars: Destabilization, which will allow Iran to benefit from the chaos; conflict; assassinations; and the rejection of any solution that has Sunni or Western origins.
It is also worth noting that the conflict in Yemen means more to the Tehran regime than merely taunting its Gulf rivals. Instead, it appears to be an ideological endeavor aimed at uniting the Muslim world under its own Islamist rule, which sees any attempts at peace as merely delaying the process.

The regime appears to have ratcheted up its efforts to illegally supply weapons to terrorist groups and its proxies.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

The Houthi militia, which Iran consistently and illegally supplies weapons to, “works closely” with Al-Qaeda and Daesh, according to a Yemeni government intelligence report. In addition, it commits crimes against humanity. Since 2015, it has reportedly killed or injured more than 17,500 civilians, while it also recruits, injures and kills children, according to Human Rights Watch.
The Houthis, by the same token, also use land mines. Human Rights Watch stated in its World Report 2020: “Houthi-planted land mines across Yemen continue to harm civilians and their livelihoods … Since January 2018, at least 140 civilians, including 19 children, have been killed by land mines in just the Hodeidah and Taiz governorates.”
The Iranian-backed Houthis also routinely resort to various methods of torture. According to Human Rights Watch: “Former detainees described Houthi officers beating them with iron rods and rifles and being hung from walls with their arms shackled behind them … The (Abductees’ Mothers Association) reported that there are 3,478 disappearance cases, at least 128 of those kidnapped have been killed.”
In a nutshell, the Iranian regime continues to illegally smuggle weapons to the Houthis. It is time for the international community to hold the Iranian leaders accountable for violating UNSC Resolution 2216 and sponsoring terrorism.

  • Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh
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