The United Arab Emirates has summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires to protest Iran’s arming of Houthi rebels in Yemen, Iranian and Arab media report. Earlier today, U.A.E.’s Foreign Ministry handed the Iranian diplomat a memorandum protesting “Iran’s illegal arming” of Shiite Yemeni rebels, including providing drones to target the Yemeni and Saudi-led coalition forces. According to Gulf News, the letter stated that “Iranian weapons, including unmanned drones targeted recently by the Arab coalition, represent a flagrant violation” of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The move comes just days after the U.A.E. Air Force destroyed an "Iranian military drone" intended to target Yemeni government troops near the Red Sea. Major General Ahmed Saif Al Yafei, the deputy chief of general staff of Yemeni forces, said the drone had been smuggled in by the rebels from Iran, after government troops trapped them on the coast. He added that the supply of sophisticated weapons to Houthi rebels by Iran is “a desperate attempt to undermine the successive victories of forces that support the legitimate government of Yemen.”
Yesterday, the White House also put Iran “on notice” following an attack on a Saudi frigate by Iran-backed Houthi militants and a ballistic missile test by Iran.
It is not the first that Iran’s arming Houthi rebels has triggered angry reactions from Washington and its regional allies. Last month, the Australian government released photographs that showed light anti-armor weapons seized near the Yemeni coast were manufactured in Iran. Analysts who surveyed the findings claimed that the weapons confiscated matched Iranian-made rocket-propelled grenade launchers used in Iraq and Ivory Coast in 2015. The new findings followed another report published by the U.K.-based Conflict Armament Research (CAR) on November 30 last year that indicated an arms “pipeline” originating from Iran extended to Yemen and Somalia.
The United States, too, has repeatedly accused Iran of playing a destabilizing role in Yemen and the broader region. In October, U.S. officials also reported on the seizure of five shipments of Iranian weapons destined for Yemen. Indeed, Iran’s former ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi last November admitted that Tehran “assisted the region’s oppressed people, including in Yemen against the Saudi invaders that have laid an economic siege over Yemen.” In an interview with conservative Mashregh newspaper, he warned that Iran’s national security would be compromised if Riyadh succeeded in Yemen.