Yemenis call on Iran to stop arming Houthis

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

A magnifying glass shows a part of the guidance system to an Iranian Qiam Ballistic Missile on display after US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on December 14th unveiled previously classified information intending to prove Iran violated UN Security Council resolution 2231. [Jim Watson/AFP]

A magnifying glass shows a part of the guidance system to an Iranian Qiam Ballistic Missile on display after US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on December 14th unveiled previously classified information intending to prove Iran violated UN Security Council resolution 2231. [Jim Watson/AFP]

The international community must take a stand against Iran for threatening the security of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states through its support of the Houthis (Ansarallah), Yemeni officials and experts told Al-Mashareq.

Saudi Arabia on December 19th intercepted a missile fired by the Houthis over Riyadh, as the Iran-backed militia said the target was Yamamah palace, where the king was scheduled to unveil the Saudi budget that day.

It was the second ballistic missile the Houthis have fired at the Saudi capital in recent weeks, with Saudi forces on November 4th intercepting a missile fired from Yemen towards Riyadh's King Khalid Airport.

On November 30th, Saudi Air Defence Forces intercepted another ballistic missile fired from Yemen by the Houthis towards the Saudi Arabian city of Khamis Mushayt.

Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of being behind the attacks and of using the Houthis to undermine the stability of the kingdom and the Gulf region.

According to a Houthi-controlled media outlet, the militia on December 4th fired a cruise missile at a power plant in Abu Dhabi that was set to open in 2018.

But Abu Dhabi's National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority swiftly denied the claim, with Saudi-owned al-Hadath news reporting that the missile in question had fallen into Yemeni territory.

'Stop supplying weapons to the Houthis'

"The international community must act resolutely to stop the smuggling of weapons of all kinds to the [Houthis]," Yemeni Minister of Local Administration Abdul-Raqib Fateh told Al-Mashareq.

"Iran’s ambitions of expanding its influence and drowning Yemen and its neighbours in chaos" must be reigned in, he said.

Fateh also called on the international community to ensure the Houthis abide by UN resolutions that call upon them to return control of the country's ports and airports to the internationally recognised government.

Returning the port of al-Hodeidah and other key areas to the hands of the legitimate government would eliminate the threat the Houthis pose to international navigation and commercial vessels, he said.

The conflict in Yemen is part of a regional conflict, through which Iran seeks to extend its influence, said Yemeni researcher and writer Yassin al-Tamimi.

As the Syrian conflict is still under way, he told Al-Mashareq, it is not yet clear whether the Iranian regime will benefit from the developments in Syria in terms of consolidating its influence.

"But it is clear that Tehran has hastened to use maximum force with the Houthi card, and committed what can be described as great folly when it pushed the Houthis to direct its missiles at Riyadh and Abu Dhabi," he said.

This move will make Saudi Arabia and the UAE more determined to put an end to the threat of the Iran-backed Houthis in Sanaa, al-Tamimi added.

Conditions not favourable for the Houthis

"There is no doubt" that the Houthis' assassination of their former ally, ex-Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, "has created all the conditions for a crackdown on the Houthi militia", he said.

Saleh's political and military influence in Sanaa has ended, he said, and his killing has created a clearly discernible rift among the Houthis and their supporters.

"By supporting and directing the Houthis to launch missiles at Saudi Arabia and its neighbours, Iran wants to send a message that it is capable of harming and threatening the security of the Arab Gulf," said writer and political analyst Wadhah al-Jaleel.

With these actions, the Iranian regime is attempting to send a message that "everyone must recognise its existence, role and the extent of its capabilities", he told Al-Mashareq.

"Iran sought to turn Yemen into a military and social base from which to threaten the security of the Gulf," he said. "However, the Arab coalition’s intervention at a pivotal moment of the Houthis’ expansionist operation in Yemen blocked Iran from achieving that goal."

As the Houthis’ control begins to slip, the Iranian regime "is trying with all its might to hold on to whatever territory is still under Houthi control and force its adversaries in the region to agree to the Houthis’ staying [in power]", he said.

Iran reaps benefits from Yemen's war

The Houthis' decision to launch missiles at Saudi Arabia has multiple dimensions, researcher Ahmed Nurreddin told Al-Mashareq.

These include "triggering conflicts and opening fronts against Saudi Arabia directly to exert pressure on it socially, politically and economically", he said.

"Iran is benefiting from the war in general," he said, as the war keeps Saudi Arabia preoccupied and incurring losses.

Iran, which has been under an economic blockade for years, sees in the direct war against its traditional foe Saudi Arabia an opportunity to weaken it while it works to increase its own strength, he said.

"Iran is supporting the Houthis with missiles to even the balance of power for its allies in Yemen," Abaad Centre for Strategic Studies director Abdulsalam Mohammed told Al-Mashareq.

The Houthis' weakness "is that they have no answer to the coalition’s air power", he said, so launching missiles is intended to address this by ensuring the militia survives and retains the ability to serve the Iranian regime’s interests.

Iran’s interests dictate that the war continue, because that enables it to threaten the security of the region and oil-producing Gulf countries, Mohammed said.

Strategic goal to encircle Arab Gulf states

"The Houthis' continued presence in northern Yemen means control of Bab al-Mandeb strait, which is one of Iran’s goals," Mohammed said.

Control of this key maritime passage enables Iran to surround the Gulf countries, he said, having already gained a foothold in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

The Iranian regime has strategic objectives in supporting the Houthis, and is willing to use "violence, chaos and threats to the interests of others" as a means to further its interests, he added.

"This is clear from its support of the Houthis," he said, who have been uprooting civilian life in Yemen and keeping it in a state of war and chaos, which enables Iran to achieve its ambitions and threaten the security of the Gulf.

Iran is seeking with its intervention in Yemen "to keep the region in a state of instability, and that is why it has not pushed for stability in the countries in which it has intervened, such as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon", he said.

Do you like this article?

0 Comment(s)

Comment Policy * Denotes Required Field 1500 / 1500