‘Iran’s Fingerprints in Yemen: Real or Imagined?’ Dr Elisabeth Kendall’s New Paper Commissioned by the Atlantic Council, Washington D.C.

23rd October 2017

There are a number of challenges to unravelling ‘Iran’s fingerprints in Yemen’. In her recent paper, commissioned by the Atlantic Council in Washington D.C., Pembroke Senior Research Fellow in Arabic Dr Elisabeth Kendall states that it is easy to create an argument for Iran’s hand in arming and training the Houthis in Yemen, but equally it is possible to present a lack of its hand. This happens through a selective choice of the messages coming out of Iran, citing circumstantial evidence as fact or ‘dismissing strongly suggestive evidence owing to plausible deniability’.

The paper takes a line of neutrality, presenting evidence and suggestions that point in different directions. It is structured around a number of questions, including, ‘Is the War Sectarian?’, ‘What is Iran’s Role? Rhetoric versus Action’, ‘Why Might Iran Have Talked Up Its Role?’ and ‘Why Might Iran’s Opponents Talk Up Iran’s Role?’ among others.

Detailing the ranging perspectives, Dr Kendall offers up her own suppositions. She concludes that ‘a conflict that began essentially as a politically and tribally motivated dispute over territory, resources and power may yet over time turn into a long-term cycle of bloody sectarian violence. In this respect, the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen is – to some extent – helping to exacerbate the very problem it claimed to be designed to solve.’

Read the full paper here.