Iran rejects remarks by former official about military support to Yemen’s Houthis

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Iran’s foreign ministry rejected on Friday remarks made earlier this week by a former Iranian official about Tehran’s support to the Houthi militia in Yemen.

The remarks by Rostam Ghasemi, former oil minister and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander, “are contrary to reality and the policies of Iran in Yemen,” Iran’s foreign ministry said in a short statement published on its website.

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Iran’s “support for Yemen is [solely] political,” the statement said, adding that Tehran supports efforts to find a political solution to the conflict.

Ghasemi had said in an interview with Russia Today on Wednesday that the IRGC has provided weapons to the Houthi militia in Yemen and trained the militia in manufacturing weapons.

Ghasemi, a potential candidate for Iran’s upcoming presidential elections in June, said there is currently a “small” number of “advisors” from the IRGC on the ground in Yemen.

Iran has long been accused of providing financial and military support to the Houthis.

“All the weapons the [Houthis] possess is thanks to our aid,” Ghasemi said.

He added: “We helped them with weapons manufacturing technology, but the weapons production takes place in Yemen, they make them themselves, the drones and missiles are Yemeni-made.”

Ghasemi claimed his country is currently unable to send any weapons or even humanitarian aid to Yemen due to the “siege” imposed on the country.

“We have provided weapons in a very limited way. We have provided more consultations compared to supplying weapons to Yemen.”

Iranian admissions about military support to the Houthis are rare, but not unprecedented.

In 2018, Iran for the first time acknowledged being involved in the Yemen conflict when then-IRGC head Mohammad Ali Jafari said Iran provided “advisory assistance” to the Houthis.

In 2019, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces Mohammad Bagheri said the IRGC is providing the Houthis with “advisory and intellectual assistance.”

US Special Envoy on Yemen Tim Lenderking said on Wednesday that “Iranian support [for the Houthis] is quite significant, and it’s lethal.”

Speaking during a congressional hearing in Washington, Lenderking said that the Houthis’ behaviour showed they were not devoted to the interests of the Yemeni people.

The Houthis have conducted 150 attacks against Saudi Arabia this year, according to Lenderking.

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