Iran involved in Kuwait plot, using new routes to aid Houthi rebels
London- Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has been using Kuwait’s territorial waters to smuggle weapons and equipment to the Houthis in Yemen as part of its effort to arm the rebel group, media reports say. The Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry has denied the accusations.
Reuters earlier this month cited sources claiming the IRGC was using new routes to transport “covert arms shipments” to the Houthis, whom Tehran is backing in their two-and-half-year battle with forces loyal to the internationally recognised government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
“For the last six months, the [IRGC] has been using waters further up the Gulf between Kuwait and Iran as it looks for new ways to beat an embargo on arms shipments to fellow Shias in the Houthi movement, Western and Iranian sources say,” Reuters reported.
“Parts of missiles, launchers and drugs are smuggled into Yemen via Kuwaiti waters,” a senior Iranian official was quoted as telling the news agency. “The route sometimes is used for transferring cash as well.”
The official added that “what is especially smuggled recently, or to be precise in the past six months, are parts of missiles that cannot be produced in Yemen.”
Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry responded with a statement saying: “The State of Kuwait refuted news by the Reuters news agency regarding Iran’s exploitation of Kuwaiti waters to deliver arms and military assistance to the Houthis in Yemen.”
The smuggling accusations came to light after it was reported that Kuwait was closing the Iranian cultural mission and related offices in the country and had expelled a number of Iranian diplomats. The moves were related to the case of members of a group known as the Abdali cell who have been convicted on terrorism-related charges and were alleged to have ties to Iran and Hezbollah.
Reuters had also reported in March that Iran was shipping not only weapons to the Houthi militia but sending military advisers as well, “either directly to Yemen or via Somalia.”
Iran’s past support for the Houthi militia is well-documented and has complicated an already convoluted situation.
Kuwait has instituted several pre-emptive security measures through its Interior Ministry, including the deployment of police patrols and several checkpoints to cover the country’s six governorates. Kuwaiti authorities also urged citizens “to cooperate with security people and carry… their IDs and personal documents.”