A senior government official in Yemen has accused Iran of recruiting more than a
thousand Yemeni youths and sending them to Lebanon and Syria to receive military
training from Hezbollah, according to report on Monday by Kuwaiti daily
The Yemeni official, who spoke on condition of anonymity,
told al-Seyassah that Iran has spent around $1 billion on supporting the
separatist movement in southern Yemen, and also accused Tehran of exploiting
Yemen’s deteriorating economic situation in order to recruit young people from
the provinces of Aden, Taiz and Sana’a.
According to al-Seyassah’s
source, the young recruits are initially sent to Beirut or Syria, where they
receive military training from Hezbollah operatives.
They then go on to
the Iranian holy city of Qom, where they receive religious indoctrination, the
The trained fighters are then sent back to Yemen to form
subversive cells controlled by Tehran, the official added.
, the source noted that the Yemeni government is very concerned about
Iran’s recruitment of large numbers of Yemeni youth, and enlisting them to carry
out espionage and sabotage on behalf of Tehran.
Yemen has long accused
Iran of sponsoring insurgent groups in the north and south of the
Earlier this year, Yemen’s president, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, said
Iran was providing support to both the Southern Separatist Movement – a militant
group that seeks independence for south Yemen – and the Shi’ite Houthi movement
in the north, whose slogan – “God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, a
Curse on the Jews” – indicates a shared ideology with Tehran.
the Yemeni news site 26 September reported that domestic security forces had
captured members of an Iranian spy cell, including Iranian, Syrian and Yemeni
According to that report, the Iranian members of the cell
entered Yemen on the pretext of setting up a factory and had begun to transfer
equipment and personnel to the southern port of Aden. However, when the Yemeni
authorities inspected containers that the Iranians had imported, they found
military equipment that could be used for assembling rockets and other
In March, a senior American official told The New York Times
that the Qods Force, the elite extraterritorial unit within Iran’s Revolutionary
Guard Corps (IRGC), is engaged in sending arms shipments to Houthi rebels in
Yemen, including AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades.
Both the US and
Israel are concerned about Tehran’s increasing efforts to expand its influence
over the Middle East, which come as its closest and largest regional ally,
Syria, is increasingly under threat.
By enlarging its influence in Yemen,
Iran aims to gain control over the Bab al-Mandeb Strait between the Gulf of Aden
and the Red Sea, a crucial part of the route Iran uses to supply arms via Sudan
and Egypt to its proxy Hamas in Gaza.
Iran’s presence in Yemen is also an
attempt to create a proxy force, similar to Hezbollah in Lebanon, but on the
border with Tehran’s rival Saudi Arabia, as part of its ongoing shadow war with
Earlier this year, Gen. James N. Mattis, the head of the US
military’s central command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that
“Iran poses the single greatest threat to US interests and to our friends and
stability in the region, and poses a global threat through its worldwide proxy
“From active attempts to exploit the Arab Awakening, to working
to undermine and subordinate the democracy in Iraq, to supporting the Assad
regime in Syria, to heightening Shi’ite-Sunni tensions, to active support for
Lebanese Hezbollah, Iran’s activities are motivated by its hegemonic ambitions,”
While most of Iran’s attempts to expand its regional
dominance are undertaken covertly, Tehran has recently decided to publicly
announce and capitalize on its role in supporting its Gaza proxies Hamas and
Iran has mounted a large-scale and ongoing propaganda
campaign both domestically and internationally in order to present the message
that its military technology and expertise had propelled Gaza to a “victory”
over Israel, even falsely claiming on one IRGC-run news site that Iranian
technology had allowed Gazans to shoot down an Israeli fighter jet.