American analysis: Iranian expertise developed missiles and drones for the Houthis in Sanaa and Saada

English - Tuesday 31 January 2023 الساعة 05:17 pm
NewsYemen, translation:

An analysis published by the American Acclid Project for Crisis Analysis confirmed that Iranian expertise in Sanaa and Saada worked during the past years of the Yemeni crisis to develop long-range missiles and drone capabilities for the benefit of the Houthi militia.

 The recent analysis said that Tehran has expanded Iranian technology transfers to the Houthis in order to expand the arena of competition between regional powers, and help the Houthis strike civilian targets and infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The ACLID project explained that the period from September 2016 to 2018 revealed the Houthi-Iranian rapprochement, mainly through the development of the local missile industry, and the expansion of the military targets targeted by the Houthis.  After this period, specifically from 2019 to 2022, the Houthi militia used high-precision air weapons, developed by Iran, to launch attacks on Saudi Arabia.

The analysis was prepared by researcher Luca Nivola, a regional Middle East specialist who was originally assigned as a researcher in Yemen and Saudi Arabia and later worked as a senior researcher on religion and oppression in the MENA region.  He currently produces analysis and coordinates research across the Middle East offices, has conducted extensive field research in Yemen and serves as a Yemeni analyst for several think tanks focusing on elite politics, political Islam, minority groups, and tribal dynamics.

The American analysis confirmed that the Iranian stockpile of missiles, drones and weapons provided to the Houthi militia is unlimited, in light of the flow of Iranian support through Yemen's land and sea ports, explaining that in March 2015, an air bridge between Tehran and Sana'a transferred trainers and equipment from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard to the Yemeni capital, while  An Iranian cargo ship unloaded 180 tons of military equipment at the Red Sea port of Salif.  Additionally, Iran escalated smuggling of small arms and missile components across the Omani border in May 2016.

According to Aclide's analysis, the Houthis' rapprochement with Tehran was evident in September 2016, in the form of technological transfers.  The Houthis unveiled their first "home-made" ballistic missile, the Burkan 1, which is a long-range version of the Scud based on Iran's Shahab-1 missile.  Iran's wide-ranging technology has opened the way for attacks on critical infrastructure deep within Saudi territory and within liberated provinces.

The American researcher stated that in 2017, Iran fully developed the local missile industry for the Houthis, including the Burkan 2 missile, which is a "locally manufactured" weapon "developed from Burkan 1, whose range reached the Saudi capital, Riyadh, which indicates the achievement of a range that exceeds capabilities."  technology to Yemen, pointing out that the Houthis' expansion of military attacks against Saudi Arabia and against oil facilities and the use of the Burkan 2H missile, which includes parts of the Iranian Qiam-1 missile, is evidence of Iran's supply of components to the Houthis.

 The American analysis showed that the Houthis took advantage of the Hodeidah agreement concluded at the end of 2018 in order to stop the comprehensive attack on the port city of Hodeidah.  They also took advantage of the ceasefire to showcase technological developments and repeat their tactic of "escalation for de-escalation".

He pointed out that there is a factor behind thwarting the Houthi attacks via missiles and drones against Saudi Arabia, including an improvement in the effectiveness of the Saudi air defense, and this is shown by the rate of interception of the Saudi forces that has doubled over the past years, which made the majority of the Houthi attacks with drones and their long-range missiles in 2020 ineffective.  effective.  The rate of interception of drones reached 77%, while the rate of missiles reached 40% in reality.  Also, Saudi Arabia received new ground-based air defense systems from the United States, in addition to developing new anti-drone systems.

The analysis confirmed that the recent UN-brokered truce, which took effect on April 2, 2022 and ended on October 2, 2022, gave the Houthis the possibility to replenish their stockpiles of missiles and drones, while developing new technology with Iranian assistance.

According to the American analysis of Aklaid, the current disruption of the negotiations led by the United Nations puts the Yemeni crisis in front of three scenarios in the future: one of them is that the talks through back channels between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis will lead to peace negotiations and political talks with the Yemeni parties.  The second possibility is that the current state of low-level hostilities will continue indefinitely.  While the latter option, which has already been planned by the Houthis, would be a three-stage escalation: First, an increase in domestic drone strikes to prevent oil exports from Yemen.  Second, the resumption of regional attacks against Saudi and Emirati oil facilities.  And third, international attacks targeting shipping companies in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab.  In this latter scenario, technological developments may allow the Houthis to internationalize the conflict beyond their current involvement in the Yemen war.