The Panel of Experts on Yemen considers that, after nearly two years of conflict in Yemen, an outright military victory by any one side is no longer a realistic possibility in the near term. The country has fractured into competing power centres, with the Houthi-Saleh alliance controlling much of the northern highlands and the legitimate Government, backed by forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, seeking to build capacity to administer parts of the south and the east. To date, the parties have not demonstrated sustained interest in or commitment to a political settlement or peace talks.
The Panel assesses that the Houthi and Saleh forces continue to operate as part of a military alliance, while maintaining separate lines of command and control at the operational level. The Panel has identified the increased use by the Houthis of battle - winning weapons, such as anti-tank guided missiles that were not in the pre-conflict Yemeni stockpile. These missiles are covertly shipped to the Houthi-Saleh alliance over land, along a new main supply route from the border with Oman. The Houthis have also continued to use short-range ballistic missiles and free-flight rockets against Saudi Arabian towns within 300 km of the border, to some political and propaganda effect.
B. Probability of large-scale supply of weapons from the Islamic Republic of Iran to Yemen
61. In a letter addressed to the President of the Security Council dated 14 September (S/2016/786), Saudi Arabia alleged violations of resolution 2216 (2015) by the Islamic Republic of Iran and demanded that the Council take the appropriate and the necessary measures against those who had violated the relevant resolutions. The Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran rejected the allegations as “pure fabrications and unsubstantiated” in a response dated 27 September (S/2016/817). A further response was made by the United Arab Emirates, also on behalf of Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan and Yemen, in a note verbale dated 27 October addressed to the Secretary-General (A/71/581), requesting that the annex thereto, containing alleged violations by the Islamic Republic of Iran, be circulated to the General Assembly. The allegations were again firmly rejected as being “baseless” in a response dated 16 November by the Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran (A/71/617).
62. The Panel has not seen sufficient evidence to confirm any direct large -scale supply of arms from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, although there are indicators that anti-tank guided weapons being supplied to the Houthi or Saleh forces are of Iranian manufacture. The air supremacy of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia over Yemen and the effectiveness of the maritime inspection system means that there are now only three credible direct supply routes from the Islamic Republic of Iran to Yemen for small-scale trafficking.