WASHINGTON, DoD News, April 17, 2018 - Iran is exploiting the situation in Yemen, arming opponents of the internationally recognized government and using the country as a "test bed" for malign activities, a top Defense Department official told lawmakers today.
The United States, as Defense Secretary James N. Mattis has said, supports efforts for a United Nations-brokered settlement to the conflict, Robert S. Karem, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. policy in Yemen.
The conflict, which began more than three years ago, threatens regional security and U.S. national security interests, which include the flow of commerce in the Red Sea, he said.
“Yemen has become a test bed for Iran's malign activities,” he said, adding that a political solution to the conflict will “reduce the chaos that Iran has exploited to advance its malign agenda.”
With support from Iran, the Houthis – a Shia group trying to take control of Yemen – have launched more than 100 ballistic missiles and “countless” rockets into Saudi Arabia directed at major population centers, international airports, military installations and oil infrastructure, he said. In this month alone, he added, the Houthis have launched more than 13 ballistic missiles and long-range rockets into Saudi Arabia.