A commander of Houthi rebels in Yemen admitted that Iran and its proxy group Hezbollah are deeply involved in training his militia, Al Arabiya reported Sunday.
Abu Mohammed, who oversaw rocket attacks in Yemen’s al-Nihm district, confessed to Iran’s involvement after surrendering, according to Al Arabiya. It wasn’t clear if he was captured or surrendered voluntarily. He added that Iran and Lebanon were running secret training facilities in Saada.
Iran boasted of its support for Houthi rebels as early as October 2014, after the Houthis captured Yemen’s capital Sana’a. The following month, an Iranian lawmaker with ties to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei boasted that Iran controlled four Arab capitals. (The other capitals that the official was referring are Beirut in Lebanon, Damascus in Syria, and Baghdad in Iraq.) Days later, a Saudi Arabian newspaper reported that members of Hezbollah were fighting alongside the Houthis.
A senior Iranian diplomat told Reuters this past October that there has been a “sharp surge in Iran’s help to the Houthis in Yemen” since May, referring to weapons, funds, and training, according to the news agency. “The nuclear deal gave Iran an upper hand in its rivalry with Saudi Arabia, but it needs to be preserved,” the diplomat elaborated.
In a report released in November, British researchers indicated that weapons shipments that were intercepted en route to Houthi rebels in 2016 were likely sent with the complicity of the Iranian regime. Last week, The New York Times reported that newly-released photographs from one of these intercepted shipments shows Iranian-manufactured weapons.
After studying Iranian media reports, the Long War Journal concluded last August:
The history of Iranian missile transfer to allies, along with the Iranian media’s brandishing of the successful firing of the Zelzal-3, suggests that the IRGC or its proxies are implicated in the provision of either material or know-how for the latest rocket used by Ansar Allah in the Arabian Peninsula.
Hezbollah’s aid to the Houthis was one of the factors that led the Gulf Cooperation Council to brand the group a terrorist organization last year.
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