Iran's proxy war in Yemen just got exposed


REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Followers of the Houthi demonstrate against the Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, in Sanaa April 1, 2015.

A recent confidential UN report has documented ongoing Iranian support for Yemen's Houthi rebels since 2009, AFP reports.

Saudi Arabia described the report as proof of Iran's proxy efforts to destabilize the Arabian Peninsula. It also lends credence to the Saudi's beliefs that Iran is a disruptive force in the Middle East.

In response to the report, Saudi Arabia has refused to pursue peace talks through the UN in an aim to end the conflict.
Although the UN report lends official weight to Riyadh's claims, examples of Iranian meddling in the country have been clear since at least December 2014.

In December, a senior Iranian official told Reuters that the Revolutionary Guard "had a 'few hundred' military personnel in Yemen who train Houthi fighters."

In addition, the official said that nearly 100 Houthi rebels traveled to Iran for training, while Tehran sent money and weaponry back to Yemen for the rebels to use.

"Everything is about the balance of power in the region. Iran wants a powerful Shi'ite presence in the region that is why it has got involved in Yemen as well," the official told Reuters.

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Saudi Arabia had carried out nearly a month of airstrikes against the Houthis as part of Operation Decisive Storm from March 26 to April 21. The operation was declared successful by Riyadh and replaced by a second campaign Operation Renewal of Hope, which is aimed at stabilizing Yemen.

However, Saudi Arabia's military campaign has done little to change the facts on the ground. After more than 2,300 airstrikes, the Houthis still remain the dominant force in western Yemen as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula consolidates in the east.

Saudi Arabia had previously gone to war with the Houthis in 2009.