eye on Yemen

Iran has continued its weapon, drug shipments to Yemen despite Saudi pact, U.S. envoy says

’The Iranians have continued to smuggle weaponry and narcotics… and we are very concerned that this would continue despite the benefits that would come from a Saudi-Iran deal,’ Tim Lenderking said


U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking takes part in a conference on Yemen's devastating war hosted by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council in the Saudi capital Riyadh on March 30, 2022, hours after the Riyadh-led coalition announced a ceasefire for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The U.S. special envoy for Yemen said on Thursday that Iran’s shipments of weapons and drugs to proxy forces in Yemen have continued despite the China-brokered agreement to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Tim Lenderking told reporters in an online briefing that Iran’s shipments, which have helped fuel the yearslong war in Yemen, have persisted since the agreement earlier this year.

“The Iranians have continued to smuggle weaponry and narcotics toward this conflict, and we are very concerned that this would continue despite the benefits that would come from a Saudi-Iran deal. So I think that is a space we have to watch,” Lenderking said, according to Reuters. “Despite the fact that we welcomed an agreement between the Saudis and the Iranians, I remain concerned about Iran’s role.”

He added that the deal between Riyadh and Tehran “will not bring peace to Yemen” unilaterally, which he said will require an agreement between rival Yemeni factions, according to The National News.

Secretary of State Tony Blinken had expressed optimism about the deal, describing it as a positive development if it could bring about deescalation between Saudi Arabia and Iran and curb Iranian malign activities — including providing missiles to the Houthi militia in Yemen.

But Blinken also warned that the U.S. should be “appropriately skeptical” about whether Iran would renege on the agreement, as it has with other deals in the past.

Mark Dubowitz, the CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, predicted further Iranian breaches.

“The Saudi agreement with the Islamic Republic in Iran will end in tears. This is merely the beginning of what will be massive violations of the understandings that the Saudis believe they reached in Beijing with Tehran,” Dubowitz said. “China will now be on the hook to enforce the agreement or be yet another superpower embarrassed by regime perfidy.”

Separately, the United Nations human rights office announced earlier this week that Iran has executed 209 people so far this year, describing its record as “abominable.”

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