Iran recruited Somalia’s Al-Shabab to smuggle weapons to Houthis: Study
The US military says it has carried out air raids against al-Shabab in Somalia, killing at least 34 suspected fighters, while another raid killed 28.
Iraqi political analyst Firas Ilyas has conducted a study entitled “Iran and Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen in Somalia, Exchange of Roles and Interests” to clarify how Iran is using the Horn of Africa to smuggle weapons to the Houthi militias in Yemen.
According to the study, the relation between Iran and armed organizations and groups, with their various ideological and sectarian shades, has formed a general strategy that Iran has been following since 1979 for the supreme interests and aspirations of Iran to take control over the region and tamper with the international scale of powers.
The study further pointed out that Iran’s ambitions in the region extended far than mere sponsorship to certain active and armed movements like the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood. Iran’s support to armed groups has been also including other movements that are labelled as “an enemy,’ to achieve mutual security interests.
Founded in 2004, Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, more commonly known as al-Shabaab, is a jihadist fundamentalist group based in East Africa. In 2012, it pledged allegiance to the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda.
Al-Shabab was founded at a time when Somalia was mired in a civil war that had already been raging for about 15 years.
Ilyas also shed the light on a number of points of ideological similarities between the father of Salafi jihadism Sayyid Qutb and the revolution that was led by Ali Khamenei and the methods of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. These similarities are what allowed the Iranian regime to take advantage of Al-Shabab movement within its regional strategies to achieve its political schemes.
The author of the study revealed that Iran exists in countries of the Horn of Africa, especially in Eretria and Djibouti, to hinder any roles by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or Israel there, in addition to other countries like Tanzania and Comoros; and the Turkish influence in Mogadishu as well. In addition, Iran seeks to create some sort of balance with Israel, which has been supporting Ethiopia, by providing support to Eritrea, while using it for security and intelligence purposes.
Moreover, Iran is using these countries as transit points to smuggle arms, military equipment and aid to the Houthi rebels group in Yemen through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Eden.
The Iranian regime has also been supporting Al-Shabab movement to keep on threatening the international maritime navigation to force the United States to move part of its marine fleet in Strait of Hormuz to secure these areas. It also smuggles weapons to the Islamic Jihad Movement and Sabireen in Palestine, after Egypt closed down most of the border crossings with Gaza.
The study also affirms that after the UN banned exports of Somali charcoal in 2012, Iran dedicated its ships to export banned cargos under the Iranian flag, in exchange, the movement smuggles uranium to Iran for its nuclear activities. As the movement is considered one of the biggest uranium suppliers to Tehran.
Iran’s policies in Africa has been growing its influence in the region since the 1990s, that matter which paved the way for establishing connections with many armed groups in countries of conflicts.
Iran is sponsoring many armed groups and militias in the Middle East, the matter that affirms that the defeat of the Houthi militias is considered a hard slap on Khamenei’s face.