Confidential UN report highlights Iran’s involvement in Yemeni conflict
London - Iran is arming the Houthi rebels in Yemen, a recent leaked UN document has shown. The findings by a panel of UN experts give credence to complaints by Gulf Arab countries concerned about Tehran’s intentions in the region.
The report, which has been forwarded to the UN Security Council, states that the panel 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.
“As a result, the panel finds that the Islamic Republic of Iran is in non-compliance with Paragraph 14 of Resolution 2216,” which called for an arms embargo in Yemen.
Houthi rebels have increased ballistic missile launches targeting Saudi Arabia, indicating capabilities the militia did not have at the start of the war almost three years ago.
On January 20, the Houthis fired a missile at the southern Saudi province of Najran, the second such attack in less than a week. The short-range missile targeted a military base but there were no reports of casualties or damage. Four days earlier, a missile was fired at civilian areas in Najran, Saudi-led coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said.
There have been a series of such attacks in recent months, including the Houthis’ launch of a missile towards King Khalid International Airport on November 4. All of the missiles were intercepted by Saudi air defences. While causing little serious damage, the missile attacks have deepened tensions between Riyadh and Tehran.
Claims that Iran was arming the Houthis are nothing new. A 2015 UN report stated that Iran’s providing weapons to rebels in Yemen dated to 2009, the early years of the insurgency. The report included findings of an investigation into the 2013 seizure by Yemeni authorities of an Iranian ship that was found carrying weapons.
The latest UN report, leaked to several international media outlets, blamed Iran for most of the conflict in Yemen but was also critical of the Saudi-led coalition concerning civilian casualties.
In December, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley presented the UN Security Council with what she described as irrefutable proof of Iran supplying Houthi rebels with weaponry.
“These are Iranian made, these are Iranian sent and these were Iranian given,” Haley said. “You will see us build a coalition to really push back against Iran and what they’re doing.”
Analysts said the more recent UN report might give the Trump administration justification for further sanctions against the Iranian government, which denies arming the Houthis.
As the war rages on and the humanitarian and economic circumstances in Yemen deteriorate, Saudi Arabia answered a call from Yemen’s internationally recognised government asking for help in saving the country’s currency from collapse.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on January 17 issued a directive to transfer $2 billion to the Central Bank of Yemen to support the Yemeni rial. The move by Saudi Arabia to save the Yemeni currency resulted in a 16% spike for the rial against the dollar.
The total amount given by Riyadh to Yemen’s central bank since the start of the war is more than $3 billion.
“All this money has been sent with the aim to boost Yemen’s financial and economic situation while bolstering the Yemeni rial. As the value of the rial goes up, the living conditions of Yemeni citizens will change for the better,” an official statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency said.
Saudi sources called the latest cash infusion “a deposit… the legitimate Yemeni government will not have to return.”
The conflict in Yemen began when Shia Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh overran Sana’a in September 2014 and seized most of the country. A Saudi-led Arab coalition, supported by the United States and the United Kingdom, began an air campaign against the rebels in March 2015.
Saleh was killed in Sana’a last December by the Houthis two days after he said he was willing to “turn a new page” with the Saudi-led coalition.