Last month, the Combined Maritime Forces, a naval partnership that includes 34 nations and is led by the U.S. Central Command, established a new multinational task force to help quell the Islamic Republic from smuggling weapons to its terrorist proxies. Bradley Bowman, Ryan Brobst, and Mark Montgomery report:
There is little doubt that the new task force will have its hands full. Iran has used the waters around Yemen to smuggle major quantities of weapons to the Houthi [rebel army] there. The Houthis, in turn, continue to use those weapons to stoke the conflict in Yemen, attack vessels in the Red Sea, and target civilians in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as documented in annual reports by the United Nations’ Panel of Experts on Yemen.
The reliable flow of weapons has given the Houthis little incentive to negotiate with Riyadh in good faith. Instead, the Houthis, sometimes employing human shields, conducted at least 375 cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia in 2021. And that does not include two Houthi attacks in January on the United Arab Emirates that struck the Abu Dhabi International Airport and targeted the al-Dhafra airbase, which houses American troops.
It is also worth remembering that the Houthis fired anti-ship cruise missiles at the U.S. Navy destroyer Mason in 2016 while it was operating in international waters in the Red Sea near Yemen. Since then, the Houthis have used unmanned “waterborne improvised explosive devices” to attack commercial vessels, according to a 2022 UN report.