Iran has been funneling arms to its proxies in Yemen, the Houthis, with several recent shipments smuggled into the war-torn country on fishing boats via the Red Sea port of al-Hodeidah, Yemeni officials said.
The most recent incidents, carried out in July, demonstrate that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is continuing to use smuggling networks to destabilise the region and undermine its security, they said.
According to local media reports, Houthi fishing boats were spotted on July 11, 12 and 13 unloading arms shipments at various locations on the Red Sea coast.
Some of the vessels, which were sighted in al-Luheyah and as-Salif districts in northern al-Hodeidah province, were carrying fishing boxes, sources said.
The cargo of weapons they delivered ashore was then transported from the coastal area to workshops, depots and farms belonging to the Houthis in northern and eastern al-Hodeidah, they said.
From these areas, they were transported onwards to Saada and Sanaa, which are under the control of the Iran-backed group.
The Houthis are using the nine districts of the northern sector of al-Hodeidah as a military operation hub for the management of arms shipments smuggled via sections of the Red Sea coast under their control, the sources said.
Yemeni forces in March foiled a previous attempt to smuggle weapons to the Houthis in al-Mahra province via the Gulf of Aden, in a shipment that included more than 52 Iranian-made anti-tank missiles.
“The IRGC’s smuggling of weapons on board fishing boats to ports under Houthi control in al-Hodeidah has become routine,” Yemeni Deputy Minister of Justice Faisal al-Majeedi told Al-Mashareq.
“The IRGC has been using this smuggling method since 2005,” he said.
Since 2017, the reports of United Nations Security Council experts “have regularly revealed that the Houthis are receiving steady support from Iran”, he said.
“The confirmation that Iran is attempting to undermine the region is that these arms smuggling efforts coincide with a clear media campaign to confirm loyalty and ties between Iran’s regional militias,” he said.