Iran financing Houthi rebels via illegal fuel shipments
New York - Panel said it found that the fuel was loaded from Iranian ports under false documentation to avoid required UN inspections.
Published: Sun 20 Jan 2019, 11:02 PM
Fuel is being shipped illegally from Iran to Houthi rebels in Yemen to finance their war against the government, UN experts said in a new report.
The experts painted a grim picture of a "deeply fractured" country sliding towards "humanitarian and economic catastrophe" with no sign of victory by either side.
In the 85-page report to the Security Council, the experts identified a small number of companies inside and outside Yemen operating as front companies using false documentation "to conceal a donation of fuel" to an unnamed individual on the UN sanctions blacklist.
The panel said it found that the fuel was loaded from Iranian ports under false documentation to avoid required UN inspections, and "the revenue from the sale of this fuel was used to finance the Houthi war effort".
In 2018, the experts said "the threat to commercial shipping increased as Houthi forces developed and deployed sophisticated weapons such as anti-ship cruise missiles and waterborne improvised explosive devices against commercial vessels in the Red Sea".
In one case, they said, the Houthis targeted a vessel carrying wheat, which endangered the delivery of humanitarian aid and raised shipping costs to Yemen.
The Houthis also attacked and damaged two Saudi oil tankers, each carrying two million barrels of crude oil, which "could have created an environmental disaster in the Red Sea", the experts said.
Since about last August, the panel said it noted the Houthis' deployment of extended range drones that would allow rebel forces to strike deep in coalition countries.
"Based on the evidence available, the panel observes that unlike in 2015 and 2016 when the Houthi forces used complete or partially assembled weapons systems which were supplied from abroad...they are now increasingly relying on imports of high-value components which are then integrated into locally assembled weapons systems," the experts said.