Iranian dissidents warn regime is creating proxy terrorist naval units to back Houthis in Yemen

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Iranian dissidents warn regime is creating proxy terrorist naval units to back Houthis in Yemen

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Iranian dissidents are warning that the brutal regime in Tehran is creating a proxy naval force in the region with which it intends to attack ships and help the embattled Houthi forces in Yemen.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran, the umbrella group for those opposed to the regime, issued a report on Wednesday that claims that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) Quds Force has been recruiting mercenaries for “newly created, armed and trained terrorist units to attack ships and maritime targets in the region.”

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The report claims that after the U.S. strike that took out Quds leader Qassem Soleimani in 2020, Iran’s ability to affect nearby countries including Iraq, Lebanon and Syria was damaged.

“To compensate for this failure, the IRGC has turned to intervention in Yemen, especially escalating naval terrorist activities and threatening the international shipping on its shores,” the report says.

The NCRI report alleges that the Quds forces in Yemen recruit Iran-backed Houthi forces — who are engaged in a brutal and yearslong civil war with the Saudi-backed government — and sends them to Iran for training.

The regime then trains mercenaries from Africa, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon both at home and at nearby Persian Gulf islands, before they are dispatched to their home countries to form naval proxy units. Allegedly, in just one course in 2020, 200 Yemenis were trained in naval science and technology. 

Separately, the Iranian regime is reportedly setting up a smuggling network to send weapons and equipment to Yemen via third countries such as Somalia. In doing this, it is providing the Houthis with speedboats, missiles, mines and other weapons, and allowing them to set up terror attacks against boats and ships in the region’s waters.

This destabilizing behavior has escalated since the rise of hardliner Ebrahim Raisi to the presidency, the report says. 

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“In fact, the destructive intervention of the Quds Force in the region has intensified, as have Tehran’s UAV and missile attacks. The escalation of maritime violence by the Iranian regime is in line with its stepped up drone attacks in the Persian Gulf countries, as well as its nuclear defiance.”

The report points to attacks by two bomb-carrying boats in September near the Yemeni port of al-Saleef, suicide boat attacks in October and November targeting a camp in Al-Hudaydah and mine detonations in the Red Sea to threaten international shipping — as well as seizures by the U.S. of weapons and missiles from Iran destined to Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The purported activity comes as Iran’s regime has been hit by repeated protests over the oppressive conditions and poor economic health in the country — in part due to sanctions imposed by the Trump administration as it removed the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal. The Biden administration has moved to re-engage with the 2015 deal — which would likely involve withdrawing some of those sanctions. Talks are still ongoing, with Iran accused of dragging its feet.

The report warns that the Iranian regime has been emboldened by concessions from Western countries, and urged those countries to hold Tehran accountable for its proxy activities in the region.

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“This new information is added evidence that none of the sanctions against the regime should be lifted; instead, additional sanctions are warranted as a result of the Iranian regime’s escalation of violence in the region and stepped-up repression at home,” Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of NCRI’s Washington office told Fox News.

“The nuclear talks over the past one year, in the absence of a decisive policy, has resulted in an emboldened regime in Iran which is much closer and more determined to build the nuclear bomb, easily evades sanctions and sells more oil, gets away with killing its protesters who want regime change and seek democracy,” he said.

Jafarzadeh called the new information a “wake-up” call for the West and called on the U.S. to take the lead in reimposing prior United Nations resolutions against the regime, while making human rights and democracy “a central element of U.S. policy regarding Iran.”

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