Iran and Yemen have had cordial, if tepid, relations since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Ties between the two states, however, have been damaged in recent years by the Islamic Republic’s support for Shi’ite rebels engaged in armed conflict with Yemeni government forces. Yemeni officials have repeatedly accused Iran of providing funding and weapons to the Zaydi Shi’ite al Houthi rebels and on one occasion claimed to have discovered Iranian-made arms in rebel weapons caches. Iran has also deployed submarines and warships off Yemen’s coast, in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, ostensibly to conduct anti-piracy operations.
In January 2013, a Yemeni boarding team operating from the USS Farragut (DDG-99) seized an Iranian dhow off the coast of Yemen that was found to be carrying ChineseQW-1MANPADs. Relations between the two nations soured as Iran denied Yemeni assertions that the shipment was an Iranian attempt to arm rebel forces. The ship's movements had been tracked by American forces from the point when it loaded cargo at an Iranian military base until it was seized.