Citing details released by the U.K.-based Conflict Armament Research organization, the Middle East Institute says Houthi rebels have been using the technology to destroy radar components of a missile defense system so their volleys can reach targets and do damage.
“It is not the first time that Iran’s alleged transfer of drone technology to the Houthis has alarmed the Saudi-led coalition,” MEI explained. “In early February, the United Arab Emirates summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires to protest ‘Iran’s illegal arming’ of Shiite Yemeni rebels, including providing drones to target the Yemeni and Saudi-led coalition forces.”
That happened just days ago, according to MEI, after the UAE Air Force destroyed an Iranian military drone intended to target Yemeni government troops near the Red Sea.
MEI reported Maj. Gen. Ahmed Saif Al Yafei, the deputy chief of general staff of Yemeni forces, said at the time the drone had been smuggled in by the rebels from Iran after government troops trapped them on the coast.
In Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest nations, forces loyal to the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi have been fighting off a Houthi rebel movement.
Nearly 7,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands hurt in just the last two years.
A Saudi-led multinational coalition is defending the president, while Houthi rebels have been trying to unseat the government.
Iran has been behind much of the destruction of the Houthis.
The MEI reported CAR, which tracks and analyzes weapons shipments around the world, said the rebels use the drones, which are loaded with explosives, to blow up missile defense system components.
“By disrupting the coalition’s radar system with the drones, the rebels are able to fire a barrage of missiles at coalition targets,” the report said.