Arab Paper Accuses Iran of Indoctrinating Yemeni Youth, Shipping Drugs to Houthis

By Ahmad Majidyar | Fellow and Director of IranObserved Project - The Middle East Institute | Mar 09, 2017
Arab Paper Accuses Iran of Indoctrinating Yemeni Youth, Shipping Drugs to Houthis

A report in Asharq al-Awsat alleges that the Houthi militias have allowed large amounts of narcotic drugs into Yemen disguised as Iranian medical assistance. The report claims that Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) has set up front companies to facilitate such illicit shipments. “Iran also provided to Houthi militias and [Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah] Saleh with land mines to plant in residential areas and has continued to provide them with armory and missiles despite [U.N.] Security Council resolution 2216.” Quoting unnamed sources, the pan-Arab daily also accused Iran of “hosting 7,000 Yemeni students to indoctrinate them with their [Iranian] ideology.”

Comment: The allegations made by Asharq al-Awsat about the I.R.G.C.’s smuggling of drugs into Yemen are hard to verify independently. The state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) also reported on it today, claiming that the I.R.G.C.’s drugs shipment to Yemen is aimed at “helping Al-Houthi and Saleh in the establishment of illegal trade and smuggling.”

But as far as Tehran’s indoctrination of Yemeni students is concerned, the issue is not restricted to the Yemeni students. In fact, the Islamic Republic has been actively trying to indoctrinate young foreign Shiites over the past 38 years in its revolutionary ideology, both in religious seminaries inside Iran and its cultural and religious centers in neighboring countries.

In January, Yemen’s Ministry of Education stopped student scholarship programs to Iran because the students “are fed destructive ideas devoted to sectarianism and factionalism.” The ministry also stopped recognizing certificates issued by schools under the Houthi leadership. And on February 19, the Yemeni government sent a letter to the United Nations Chief Antonio Guterres, in which it protested Iranian interference in the Yemeni affairs and specifically mentioned about the alleged indoctrination of Yemeni students inside Iran.

Moreover, after the Houthi takeover of Sana’a, Iran also expanded its academic and cultural exchange programs inside Yemen. Iran later began using these programs to recruit Yemenis for its political and military training courses, some of which are jointly run with the Lebanese Hezbollah. The UNICEF said last month that the civil war and destruction in Yemen has prevented more than two million children from attending school - making Yemeni youth extremely vulnerable to foreign exploitation and indoctrination.