As if its support for Hezbollah, the terrorist organization notorious in the Middle East, and for sundry other gangs of thugs operating in the region under various acronyms, was not enough Iran continues to create trouble far and wide. The idea is to support sectarian strife – directly or indirectly, through training, cash or arms – any disruptive and destructive activity by any Shia outfit to keep the neighbouring countries on their toes.
Having been time and again checkmated, thwarted and exposed in the middle of its nefarious activities aimed at Bahrain, Iran nevertheless continues to provide rifle-and-missile ‘succour’ to the Houthi rebels. Until yesterday, the Houthis were a minority living it out docilely in Yemen – now they create mischief and mayhem in the poor mountainous country bordering Saudi Arabia.
Dhows No Match For Warships
But despite repeated failures, Iran does not realize that it is difficult for it to carry its loads of arms past the alert patrols of First World warships.
In the last five weeks alone. Iran has suffered three setbacks while its minions innocuously carted, in non-descript-looking dhows or country boats, caches of assault rifles, sniper rifles and anti-tank missiles headed for Yemen. The trick to disown the consignments in case of a seizure is to say they are stateless craft since they tend to fly no flag.
Seizing Iranian Arms Shipments
Thus, on March 28 USS Sirocco [belonging to the US Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain] seized a large haul of 1,500 Kalashnikovs, 200 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 21.50 caliber machineguns. A report in ‘Stars and Stripes,’ an American newspaper, was quoted in the Bahrain Press as saying “the illicit shipment of arms originated in Iran and was intended for the Houthi rebels in Yemen.”
On March 20, French Navy destroyer FS Provence seized arms including some 2,000 AK-47s, 64 Dragunov sniper rifles and nine anti-tank missiles in a similar instance. And earlier, on February 27, the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Darwin intercepted a dhow with a similar load.
The Shia Houthis are fighting the internationally-recognised government in Yemen which is backed by Saudi Arabia. Due to the nature of the terrain, the Saudi as well as the Bahraini and the United Arab Emirates forces are having to be deployed to contain them. The resultant fighting is greatly disturbing peace in the region.
More than 6,000 people have been killed as a consequence of this Iranian-backed misadventure which has also attracted Al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula. And ISIS also has tried to exploit the chaotic scenario to find a toehold in the region.
Houthis Reject Iran Offer
Interestingly, talks are in progress between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi representatives. Last month, a Houthi official spurned an Iranian military official’s suggestion that Tehran might send military advisers to support them. The message was loud and clear. Even if the Houthis were at one time receptive to the idea of accepting Iranian aid, they no longer find it an attractive proposition to take their advice.
With the seizure of their arms caches in quick succession and the spurning of their offers by the Houthis themselves, it is time the Iranians stopped nursing ambitions of exporting their brand of destructive policies to distant shores.