U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that Iran is instructing Houthi rebels in Yemen to violate a fragile ceasefire agreement reached in December between the Tehran-sponsored rebel group and the internationally recognized Yemeni government.
The Houthis “continue to refuse to comply with the agreements that they signed up for in Stockholm, Sweden, they refuse to withdraw from the port of Hodeidah,” Pompeo said at an event in Washington. “This is because Iran has chosen to direct them to do that,” he stressed.
Under the terms of the ceasefire, the Houthis agreed to the full withdrawal of their troops from Hodeidah’s three ports and city.
Pompeo explained that Iran’s control over the Houthis was also seen “with the missile system, the hardware, the military capability” that they had acquired. “These are not Houthi indigenous weapons systems. They have been smuggled into Yemen from Iran.”
From September 2015 through March 2016, the United States Navy’s 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, intercepted four Iranian smuggling vessels that yielded more than 5000 AK-47 rifles and 80 antitank guided missiles, as well as sniper rifles and machine guns.
The Islamic Republic has also stepped up smuggling efforts via Somalia and Oman. Notably, Kornet anti-tank missiles – a weapon possessed by Iran but not part of Yemen’s depleted stockpiles – have been reported on the battlefield, as have other advanced systems, including armed drones.
“The Saudis have had missiles fly that could have hit you [US citizens] at King Khalid airport,” Pompeo noted. “The support we are providing to the Saudis is in America’s best interest.”
The Houthis have been linked to numerous human rights abuses and attacks on civilians during the ongoing civil war in Yemen, including an attack on an Emirati civilian ship in October 2016, the use of child soldiers, and the shelling of civilian areas.
We are simply asking Iran to behave like a normal country,” Pompeo concluded. “Simple things such as don’t kill people in Europe, you shouldn’t support Shia militias in Iraq trying to destabilize the Iraqi government, and not to continue to sow strife in Lebanon by underwriting Hezbollah.”
[Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr]