Houthis a fulcrum in Iran's regional game: analysts

By Abu Bakr al-Yamani in Sanaa

Yemeni demining experts prepare for a controlled explosion in Aden on April 5th to destroy explosives and mines laid by the Houthis (Ansarallah). The Iranian regime has been accused of arming the Houthis in violation of international agreements. [Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP]

Yemeni demining experts prepare for a controlled explosion in Aden on April 5th to destroy explosives and mines laid by the Houthis (Ansarallah). The Iranian regime has been accused of arming the Houthis in violation of international agreements. [Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP]

The Iranian regime's intervention in Yemen's war has become clear with its continued attempts to smuggle weapons to the Houthis (Ansarallah) in violation of an international ban.

Four weapons shipments from Iran to Yemen have been intercepted by the US Navy and allied nations since April 2015 , AFP reported October 27th.

"Iran is involved in supporting the [Houthis] by providing them with logistical support, namely weapons, and specifically explosives and missiles, in addition to its announced political and media support," Abaad Centre for Strategic Studies director Abdulsalam Mohammed told Al-Mashareq.

"Iran does not aim for a Houthis victory or to seize control of Yemen, as it knows that this is difficult to accomplish through this war, seeing as after a full decade it has been unable to control Iraq, Syria or Lebanon," he said.

The Iranian regime has, however, "succeeded in creating chaos" that has torn apart the social fabric of these countries and enabled it to penetrate their decision-making processes and power structures, he added.

"Iran aims to create a hotbed of tension and chaos in Yemen," he said, explaining that this will eventually spread, igniting tensions inside the surrounding Gulf states and helping Iran extend its influence in the region.

Regarding the role of Iranian weapons in Yemen's war, Mohammed said these not only prolong the conflict, but "inflame the entire region and the world", as global security is threatened by armed groups operating outside the state.

Proxies further Iranian interests

The Iranian regime deals with Shia groups based on Wilayat al-Faqih, a doctrine which advocates a guardianship-based political system, Mohammed said.

It uses these groups "as tools to advance its strategic project", he said, with the aim of gaining control of the holy sites and the Gulf's oil supplies .

Iran is waging a war "with two dimensions, ideological and geopolitical, each of which feeds and drives the other", political affairs researcher Yassin al-Tamimi told Al-Mashareq.

"Iran plans to prolong the war in Yemen to drain Gulf and Saudi resources and ease the pressure on its primary battle in Syria and Iraq," al-Tamimi added.

"This does not mean that Yemen is a marginal country to it," he said, adding that on the contrary, it has become pivotal for Iran, since the Houthis and their allies were able to draw Saudi Arabia into a war.

This proxy war spares Iran from getting directly involved in a conflict that could deplete its economic resources, already strained by sanctions , he said, and helps it maintain its influence on regional policies and arrangements.

Arms smuggling to Iran's allies

The Iranian intervention in Yemen serves its political project for expansion in the region, political affairs expert Adnan al-Humairi told Al-Mashareq.

"[Iran] has allies in the region -- Hizbullah in Lebanon and Ansarallah in Yemen ," he said, noting that the Iranian regime has been arming these affiliated groups.

"Iran’s supply of its proxies in Yemen, the Houthis, is not new, as it has been doing this for years, specifically since 2013 with the Iranian arms ships, Jihan 1 and Jihan 2," he said.

Yemen has roughly 2,400 kilometres of coastline and many islands, he said, which make it easy to smuggle arms by sea. It also overlooks Bab al-Mandeb strait on the Red Sea, through which 40% of global maritime trade passes.

It is difficult to inspect all the ships that pass through Bab al-Mandeb, he added, and thus it would be easy to smuggle arms through it, despite the presence of ships monitoring Yemen’s maritime border.

Arms smugglers "use all means to ensure the success of arms smuggling and are helped by the interests of a number of major countries that support Iran" , he said, adding that Iranian efforts to smuggle arms to the Houthis via these middlemen cannot be ruled out.

One of the reasons the war in Yemen has dragged out, unresolved, is that Iran is supporting the Houthis with weapons, he said.

Political, military, media intervention

"Iran's political, military and media intervention in Yemen has become clear, and has led to a sectarian divide in Arab society, and in Yemen in particular," political affairs researcher Khaled Taeman told Al-Mashareq.

The Iranian revolution was sectarian in nature, he said, noting that "before the Iranian revolution, the Arab world was in a state of political conflict between two currents, the nationalist and reactionary currents".

The Iranian revolution in 1979 transformed the conflict into an Arab sectarian conflict, heavily influenced by Iran, he said, which is trying to export the revolution and Wilayat al-Faqih to expand its influence in the region.

Iran has "a set of interests and cards to play to expand its influence and interests in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and other countries", Taeman said, pointing to the danger the sectarian conflict poses to the Arab countries' social fabric.

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6 Comment(s)

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Everything from Iran! What’s wrong with you, Arabs? Why don’t Arabs unite and go to fight Israel and the Jews? We just stay and say Iran while we know what Arab countries are causing commotion!


No land is too narrow for its people; rather, it is men’s manners that change. The sheikhs must understand their position from Yemen.


If the oil sheikhs have any understanding of Iran’s ambitions, why should they [Illegible] their neighbours (Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Egypt)? All these countries have been ruined throughout the history of this royal family. Headband without a brain!


Iran is an exporter of terrorism. Iran has agents everywhere across the Arab world to occupy it and ignite strife in order to weaken the Arabs and make them follow it in its dirty Persian project. This is shown from their support of the criminal Bashar, their occupation of Lebanon, destruction of Iraq, occupation of and intervention in Yemen. May Allah destroy the plots of Persian Shia.


No foreigner shall ever hold dominion over my land! Thanks to the King of humanity! Thank you for defending Sunnis! (Salman is synonym for glory!


This is very strange for the [gibberish]; the news agencies didn’t report any news about Yemen although it dealt with Iraq and Syria.