Yemen Blasts Iran For Arming Insurgents

Brushing aside Iranian denials, Yemen’s president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has now formally blamed Iran for a seized ship filled with weapons believed to be intended for Shiite insurgents fighting the country’s government:

But government official Abdel-Rashid Abdel Hafez said President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi had contacted Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to demand Tehran stop smuggling in weapons… Yemen, a majority Sunni Muslim country, said last week the vessel had been loaded in Iran. Yemen has complained to the U.N. Security Council and asked for the weapons shipment to be investigated by the council’s group of experts that monitors compliance with the Iran sanctions regime. It includes a ban on arms exports, U.N. special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, said Thursday.

The shipment was intercepted January 23 and included Soviet-era Katyusha rockets, anti-aircraft missiles, RPG launchers and Iranian-made night-vision goggles. Sana’a has asked the UN Security Council to launch an inquest.

Iran maintains a global arms network supplying non-state and state actors throughout the Middle East and Africa. In that regard the violence that Tehran is fueling Yemen differs little from the conflicts it fuels in the Ivory Coast, Niger, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Afghanistan.

The announcement will also be read, however, against the backdrop of increasingly vocal Arab frustration over Tehran’s interference in the internal affairs of Sunni states.

Those concerns stretch back years, and both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have publicly and privately urged military action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The calls to degrade Tehran’s atomic program have become more urgent as the Islamic republic has taken to seizing Saudi fishing vessels and as it has significantly expanded its capacity to enrich nuclear material.

Arab states fear that Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons will give Tehran immunity to press its territorial claims throughout the region, which include among other things the entire country of Bahrain.

[Photo: Yemeni Defense Ministry via EPA via NBC]