Photographs of weapons alleged to have been seized while being moved from the Horn of Africa to Yemen have been released by the Australian Department of Defence, the New York Times has reported. The evidence suggests that the weapons originated in Iran.
The cargo contained at least nine rocket-propelled grenade launchers among thousands of weapons seized by an Australian warship last February when it intercepted an Iranian sailing vessel en route, it is believed, to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Initially, Canberra decided not to release the photographs, but after a lengthy dispute with Geneva-based research centre Small Arms Survey, the Australian government decided to release a sample of the pictures of the weapons that were seized.
This is not the first time that Iran has been caught shipping weapons to the Houthis; the first occasion was as early as 2009, when the Yemeni government announced that its navy had intercepted an Iranian vessel in the Red Sea carrying weapons intended for the rebels.
Yemen has been locked in a bitter war between Houthi rebels allied with forces loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh and government forces led by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, along with local tribes and resistance forces backed by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition. Nearly 10,000 people have been killed as a result of the conflict, with millions displaced.