by Bernhard at Moon of Alabama, August 1, 2017
The Trump administration is filled with people who, for whatever reason, hate Iran. These people are attempting to break the “nuclear deal” with Iran and other powers. Their propaganda accuses Iran of every “evil” in this world. Their position is fully in line with the Israeli-Saudi anti-Iran axis.
Since the U.S., the UK and the Saudis wage war against Yemen they claim that Iran is allied with the Zaydi people of northern Yemen who, together with the Yemeni army, resist the Saudi invasion. Iran is regularly accused of smuggling weapons to them even as no evidence for this has ever been shown.
Reuters jumps into the breach with this fantastic fake-news item: Exclusive: Iran Revolutionary Guards find new route to arm Yemen rebels:
LONDON (Reuters) – Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have started using a new route across the Gulf to funnel covert arms shipments to their Houthi allies in Yemen’s civil war, sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters.
For the last six months the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has begun using waters further up the Gulf between Kuwait and Iran as it looks for new ways to beat an embargo on arms shipments to fellow Shi’ites in the Houthi movement, Western and Iranian sources say.Using this new route, Iranian ships transfer equipment to smaller vessels at the top of the Gulf, where they face less scrutiny. The transhipments take place in Kuwaiti waters and in nearby international shipping lanes, the sources said.
“Parts of missiles, launchers and drugs are smuggled into Yemen via Kuwaiti waters,” said a senior Iranian official. “The route sometimes is used for transferring cash as well.”
The writer of that Reuters piece is one Jonathan Saul. Other most recent piece on his Reuters page are: European banks struggle to solve toxic shipping debt problem, Global shipping feels fallout from Maersk cyber attack and Lenders to ramp up pressure on holders of toxic shipping debt – survey. Older stories by Saul have similar headlines. Saul writes from London about the global shipping industry. That surely qualifies him as an expert on Yemen.
But even an expert can err. The Houthi are not Shia in the sense that Iran is predominantly Shia. They are Zaidi and follow the Hanafi school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence. They pray in same mosques as Sunni believers do. Using the term Shia for the Zaidi side of the Yemen conflict is a lazy repeat of unfounded Saudi claims which try to set any local conflict in the Middle East into a “Sunni-Shia” frame even when that is completely inappropriate. As the Carnegie Endowment states:
Claims of Iran’s influence over the Houthis have been overblown. While the Houthis do receive some support from Iran, it is mostly political, with minimal financial and military assistance. However, since the Houthis took control of Sanaa, the group has increasingly been portrayed as “Iran-backed” or “Shia,” often suggesting a sectarian relationship with the Islamic Republic. Yet until after the 2011 upheavals, the term “Shia” was not used in the Yemeni public to refer to any Yemeni groups or individuals.
The Reuters piece comes with this rather unhelpful map.
While that map (bigger, original link) is headlined “Iran’s new route to Yemen” it shows no route at all.
Pushing anonymous rumors of Iranian weapon transfers at high sea the Reuters piece totally fails to explain how these weapons would then be transported INTO Yemen. There is no route shown for that. Saudi Arabia and its al-Qaeda allies on the ground blockade and control all sea and land routes into Yemen. Millions of Yemenis are near starving and a huge Cholera epidemic is ravaging the country with 400,000 infected and hundreds dying each day. Hardly any food and no medicine comes through. How please are Iranian weapons supposed to jump from some Daus into the hands of the Houthi when not even food can be passed along?
The claim of weapon transfers near in the upper Persian Gulf makes no sense at all. It is about 2,000 kilometers from the area to the Yemeni coast. There are many much shorter routes from Iran to Yemen which small ships could use without any higher risk. Deeper down the Reuters piece even admits that and thereby contradicts itself:
“Smaller Iranian ports are being used for the activity as major ports might attract attention,” [a second senior Iranian official said.]
Another sign that the Reuters piece is utter bullshit is the claimed sourcing from three(!) anonymous “senior Iranian officials”. Are we to believe that multiple “senior Iranian officials” admit to a shipping correspondent in London that Iran is willfully breaching UN resolutions by smuggling weapons into Yemen? Why would they do that? Why would they confirm Saudi anti-Iran propaganda?
The Reuters piece makes a fantastic claim that has no practical logic. The author lacks knowledge of the actual conflict at hand. The sourcing is extremely dubious. Reuters itself can not find “Iran’s new route” on the map it provides.
Reuters is the major British news agency. Britain is heavily involved in the conflict in Yemen and the Saudis and their allies are the biggest customers of British weapon manufacturers. The piece on the ominous “new route” will surely make a splash but it disqualifies Reuters as a reliable source of information.