Reuters carries this news item, beginning with the following paragraph:

Iran is sending advanced weapons and military advisers to Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement, stepping up support for its Shi’ite ally in a civil war whose outcome could sway the balance of power in the Middle East, regional and Western sources say.

(emphasis mine.)

I'm very jaded and skeptical about claims by the US and its allied regarding use of arms by middle-east regimes they don't like (e.g. Iraq WMDs). The US has been quite hostile to Iran, especially with the Trump administration reneging on the JCPOA agreement and their amped-up rhetoric against the Iranian regime. The US is also allied to Saudi Arabia, which it is arming and otherwise supporting in its military campaign in/against the Yemeni rebels; and Iran is kind of a nemesis for SA (also in the Sunni-vs-Shia aspect).

So, you can understand my skepticism. But just because some parties are biased does not mean their claims are incorrect. What credible evidence is there, if any, for the claims of funding and arming by Iran of Yemeni Houthi rebels?


  • I'm differentiating arms or funding from diplomatic support, rhetorical encouragement, favorable trading conditions, freedom to conduct foreign affairs etc - which are also a kind of support, but of different significance/intensity.
  • See also the relevant section of the Wikipedia article on the Houthis.
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    "The US is also allied to Saudi Arabia, which it is arming and otherwise supporting in its military campaign in/against the Yemeni rebels; and Iran is kind of a nemesis for SA (also in the Sunni-vs-Shia aspect)" the fact the Houthis are pro-Iran Shia is actually the reason that the Saudis are involved, not the other way around.(of course your question regarding the actual arming is still a good one) – user19831 Dec 8 '18 at 20:12
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    @Orangesandlemons: Saudi Arabia has been meddling in Yemeni affairs for many decades, well before Iran even became an Islamic republic. Now, it's not been the only culprit here - Nasser's Egypt also intervened in Yemen - but I disagree with the line of causality you draw in your comment. – einpoklum Dec 8 '18 at 20:53
  • @Burt_Harris: I don't buy the "we'd tell you but we'd have to kill you" attitude... but regardless, I disagree that a question asking for credible evidence can only solicit opinion. – einpoklum Dec 10 '18 at 0:58
  • The problem is who defines "credible evidence", you haven't specified the standard which you are seeking. Edit your question and I'll reconsider. – Burt_Harris Dec 10 '18 at 1:26
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    @dan-klasson: Please don't miscontrue my question. Nowhere did I suggest that Saudi Arabia's attack is justified. – einpoklum Mar 16 '19 at 16:26

Most western governments claim to have evidence of Iran military involvement in Yemen, including weapons shipments, that they keep classified.

However, here are some concrete elements of proof that have reached the world's medias. How decisive they are is up to you; Western governements', Saudi's and Iran's reactions about them have widely differed.

2013 : Ship Jihan I

Yemeni authorities have seized an Iranian boat full of weapons:

Yemeni authorities point to the “Jihan 1” as evidence of Iran’s support. The ship was seized by Yemen in 2013, smuggling weapons from Iran to local insurgents. The Yemeni official showed Reuters a breakdown of the cargo, which included Katyusha rockets M-122, heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles, RPG-7s, Iranian-made night vision goggles and “artillery systems that track land and navy targets 40km away”.

But of course:

Iran denied any connection with the arms found on Jihan 1.

2015 : UN 'secret' report

In April 2015, a report by UN expert was transfered to the Iran Sanction Committee but has leaked to the medias (notably French AFP) and been widely reported.

Studying evidence that includes afore-mentioned Jihan I, it suggests that weapons were delivered by sea from Iran to Yemen "at least since 2009":

Les informations recueillies "suggèrent que le cas du Jihan suit d'autres livraisons par mer au Yémen que l'on peut faire remonter au moins à 2009", indique le rapport que l'AFP a pu consulter.

In English:

The collected informations "suggest that the Jihan case follows other shipments by sea to Yemen that can be dated back at least to 2009", says the rapport AFP could consult. - my translation.

2017: new UN report

On dec 1, 2017, Reuters says it has had access to another report, dated nov 24, 2017:

Remnants of four ballistic missiles fired into Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Houthi rebels this year appear to have been designed and manufactured by Riyadh’s regional rival Iran, a confidential report by United Nations sanctions monitors said.

The existence of the report was confirmed on dec 13, 2017, when the UN Secretary General Antonio

Guterres said in a report to the security council that the United Nations was investigating Iran’s possible transfer of ballistic missiles to Houthi Shia rebels in Yemen that may have been used in launches aimed at Saudi Arabia in July and November.

2017 : Remnants of ballistic missiles shown in Bolling Air Force base in Washington.

On Nov,14,2017, Nicky Haley presented short-range ballistic missiles that are said to have been built in Iran, delivered to Houthis and fired in Yemen.

Standing in front of segments of two missiles, which US officials say were fired recently by Houthi forces at Saudi Arabia, Haley said: “As you know we do not often declassify this time of military equipment recovered from these attacks but today we are taking an extraordinary step of presenting it here in an opening setting.”

“In this warehouse is concrete evidence of illegal Iranian weapons proliferation gathered by direct military attacks on our partners in the regime,” she added, saying that representatives from other countries had been invited to inspect the evidence at Bolling.

Sure, US officials displaying proofs of enemy weapons is taken with a bit of salt at least since Colin Powell... Guess what Iran's comment has been ?

The Iranian spokesman at the UN, Alireza Miryousefi, said the evidence was fake.

He said: “We categorically reject it as unfounded and, at the same time, irresponsible, provocative and destructive. This purported evidence, put on public display today, is as much fabricated as the one presented on some other occasions earlier.”

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    First - thanks for the effort to compile this. It's certainly better than the vacuous phrases we mostly hear in the media. Indeed, these pieces of evidence have something in the middle between no-credibility and full-credibility. The most interesting part here, AFAIAC, is the "secret" UN reports. Isn't the UN supposed to be transparent, with no classified documents? – einpoklum Dec 10 '18 at 10:28
  • If you ask the bit about UN in a separate question, that is an interesting topic to investigate... – Evargalo Dec 10 '18 at 20:49

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