Iran Rushes to Help Consolidate Houthi Rule

Iranian media celebrate the acquisition of another “ally” after Houthi leaders arrive in Tehran for talks.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani arrives in Zanjan, October 22, 2014
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani arrives in Zanjan, October 22, 2014 (Presidency of Iran)

Iran is rushing to support the Shia rebels who took over Yemen’s government last month. A delegation of leaders from the Houthi group visited Tehran earlier this week for talks while Iranian medical supplies arrived in Sana’a a day after the two regimes signed an aviation agreement.

Whereas Iran previously denied claims from Arab Gulf states that it backed the Houthi rebels, its media have openly celebrated the acquisition of another “ally” in recent days.

An editorial in the conservative Kayhan newspaper — a mouthpiece for Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — said the “revolution” in Yemen had “woken up the reactionary Arabs.”

The recent developments in Yemen are surely not favorable for or to the liking of the Americans and the region’s monarchs who follow them.

Arab Gulf states and the United States have thrown their support behind Yemen’s elected president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi, who fled to the port city of Aden last month and established a rival government there.

That makes Yemen the latest in a series of proxy wars between Iran and its Sunni Arab foes. The two back opposing sides in the Syrian civil war and rival parties in Iraq.

The Houthis, an insurgent group from the Shia-dominated north of Yemen, still hold the prime minister and his cabinet under house arrest in Sana’a. They first stormed the capital in September and dissolved parliament in February.

Hadi is supported by local authorities in the southwest but not by separatists in the rest of the former South Yemen who oppose his plan to split the country up into six autonomous regions. The constitutional reforms were drafted in consultation with neighboring Gulf Cooperation Council states.

The Gulf Arabs, like Britain and the United States, withdrew their ambassadors from Sana’a when the Houthis took over. China, Iran and Russia have kept their envoys in the city.

The rebel leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, accused Saudi Arabia of seeking to turn Yemen into another Libya where two rival governments operate.

“Our Saudi brothers want to turn Yemen into the Libyan model and they are using Hadi’s departure to achieve that,” he said in a televised speech last week.

Houthi further claimed that Hadi was “subordinate” to American and Saudi interests.

The United States have supported Hadi as an ally against Al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen.

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