Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 May 2019

UN report shows Iranian fingerprints on Yemen war

Revenues from illicit oil found their way to the Houthis, exacerbating the tragic conflict

Houthi allied police troopers secure a street in Hodeidah, Yemen. Abduljabbar Zeyad / Reuters
Houthi allied police troopers secure a street in Hodeidah, Yemen. Abduljabbar Zeyad / Reuters

The new UN expert report, presented to the United Nations Security Council on Friday, confirmed what many in this region already knew – that Iran’s shady dealings are supporting the Houthi rebels and exacerbating Yemen’s war.

From the outset, the conflict never quite added up. How could a ragtag militia seize the country’s capital in 2014, toppling the internationally recognised government of Abdrabu Mansur Hadi? Many saw the fingerprints of Tehran, the region’s main destabilising power.

The new report offers damning evidence of that connection. Last year, it claims, Iran violated a UN arms embargo by providing missiles and drones to the rebels. The revenues of illicit oil, loaded from Iranian ports under false documentation, found their way to the Houthis, who amassed a sophisticated arsenal of modern weaponry.

How else could the rebels have acquired the anti-ship cruise missiles and drones with which they target Saudi vessels and soil? A previous report by the panel found that Houthi ballistic missiles show characteristics similar to Iranian-made weapons. In prolonging this war to carve out influence, Iran and its Houthi clients are the primary obstacles to peace.

This report comes as UN monitors scramble to bolster a ceasefire in the vital port city of Hodeidah, a flashpoint in the wider war, through which about 70 per cent of Yemen’s imports and aid arrive.

Agreements over prisoner swaps and Hodeidah in Sweden last month marked a breakthrough in a war that has brought Yemen to the brink of famine. But Houthi aggression now risks derailing the peace process altogether.

In response to rebel drone activity, the Saudi-led coalition fighting to reinstate Mr Hadi’s government launched air strikes on Houthi strongholds in Sanaa on Saturday.

The coalition has, nonetheless, repeatedly expressed its desire to see a political solution to end Yemen’s war. The Houthis – and their Iranian backers – must now put self-interest to one side and pursue the same.

Updated: January 20, 2019 06:10 PM

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