A new study by the London-based Conflict Armament Research (CAR) puts the record straight on the role of Iran in arming non-state actors in Yemen.
The findings presented in the study, titled Maritime Interdictions of Weapons Supplies to Somalia and Yemen: Deciphering a link to Iran and published in November 2016, proves beyond any doubt that Iran was indeed supplying lethal arms to the Houthi rebels with absolute impunity.
The CAR’s analysis comprises four components. First; analysis of weapons seized during a four-week period in February and March 2016 by the warships HMAS Dar-win, FS Provence, and USS Sirocco, which were operating as part of the multi-national Combined Mari-time Forces (CMF). The CMF intercepted three dhows transporting weapons in the Arabian Sea. The dhows contained significant quantities of Iranian-manufactured weapons and weapons that plausibly derive from Iranian stockpiles.
Second; in October 2016, CAR also documented military equipment that was recovered in Yemen. A portion of this materiel matches dhows. Similarly, among the weapons recovered in Yemen included a 2015 Iranian-manufactured Dehlavieh anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) and a Russian-manufactured 9M133-1 Kornet ATGW. The Kornet’s lot number matches those of five Kornets seized by the crew of the FS Provence in March 2016, and its serial number falls within the same sequence. The discovery of weapons in Ye-men from the same production run as weapons on board the dhow intercepted by the FS Provence confirms that the weapons originated in Iran and that the dhow’s cargo was destined for Yemen.
Third; all three interdictions involved significant weapon seizures. For instance, the dhow intercepted by FS Provence included 2,000 new condition AK pattern assault rifles with serial numbers in sequential order. This suggests, according to CAR analysis, that the rifles derived from a national stockpile, rather than disparate non-state sources.
Also, the crews of the FS Provence and HMAS Darwin each seized RPD-pattern light machine guns of suspected North Korean manufacture. Weapons from the same serial number sequence were present on both vessels, which suggest that the materiel derived from the same original consignment.
Fourth; the Iranian shipbuilder, Al Mansoor, manufactured two of the three dhows intercepted by the CMF. Local sources in Puntland, Somalia, report that Al Mansoor vessels have supplied weapons to local markets and used the region’s ports as transshipment points for maritime weapon transfers. According to records maintained by the Iranian Registry for Personal and Deed Organisations, AMansoor is located next to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) facility. Equally importantly, CAR investigations into the dhow trade around the Horn of Africa suggests the existence of a weapon pipeline extending from Iran to Somalia and Yemen, which involves the transfer, by dhow, of significant quantities of Iranian -manufactured weapons.
HMAS Darwin seized more than 2,000 weapons, including AK-type assault rifles and 100 Iranian-manufactured rocket launchers, from the dhow bound for Somalia, CAR said.
The seizure by FS Provence included 2,000 assault rifles “characteristic of Iranian manufacture” and 64 Hoshdar-M Iranian-made sniper rifles, all of which were in new condition, CAR said.
There were also nine Russian-made Kornet antitank guided missiles, it said.
It also referred to the US navy’s seizure from a dhow in March of AK-type assault rifles, rocket launchers and machine guns which the US believed “orginated in Iran and were destined for Yemen”.