Are Iran, Hezbollah helping Yemen's Houthi rebels?

Published September 28th, 2014 - 05:55 GMT

Forces with links to Iran and Hezbollah, a Shi’ite Lebanese militia, are supporting Houthi rebels to boost their control of Yemen’s capital Sana’a, intelligence sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Elements affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah, who were training Houthis in the north of Yemen, are currently present in the capital Sana’a,” an intelligence source who requested anonymity because he was not permitted to brief the media told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Following a month of protests against Yemen’s central government, Houthi militants last week gained control of key government buildings in Sana’a and looted the homes of top government officials.

Members of the Iranian elite force and Hezbollah are helping the Shi’ite rebels implement their political and military agenda in the country, the source said.

Houthi rebels obtained a large number of official documents after ransacking the residences of several Yemeni officials, including those of Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsin Al-Ahmar and director of national security Ali Al-Ahmadi, the source added.

Eye-witnesses told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Shi’ite group stormed several mosques across the country on Friday and appointed its own preachers after Houthi militants expelled those licensed by the country’s Ministry of Religious Endowments.

The move provoked public outrage and was seen as an attempt to impose Houthi ideology throughout the country.

Militias loyal to rebel leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi on Friday held their positions in Sana’a, particularly in the northern parts of the city, security sources reported.

The group is using arms it seized from government military bases to assert its control over the capital.

President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi delivered a speech on Thursday to mark the 52nd anniversary of the revolution that toppled the rule of imams in Yemen. He said the occasion “coincides with extraordinary circumstances,” urging the people of Yemen to “be unified in a single entity under national partnership for all without exception and exclusion.”

Hadi said that despite the difficult circumstances, the state remains strong and resistant to collapse. He also called for the “immediate implementation” of the peace agreement between his government and the Houthis.

Last week, the central government and Houthis signed a deal under the auspices of the UN to form a new government and introduce several economic reforms.

By Arafat Madabish


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