The heavy price of Hezbollah’s meddling in Yemen
As Lebanon experiences the political vacuum produced by the May elections, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah publicly acknowledged his party’s backing of the Houthi militias in Yemen and reaffirmed his absolute support for the Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi.
Nasrallah’s speech came two days after Colonel Turki al-Maliki, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition supporting the internationally recognised Yemeni government, announced that coalition forces destroyed a major communications system in the Houthi stronghold of Saada province in northern Yemen.
The operation yielded intelligence indicating the involvement of Hezbollah in setting up, running and managing communications systems in five locations across Yemen. This may explain the formal complaint made by Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani to the UN Security Council.
Hezbollah has been supporting the Houthi insurgents both logistically and militarily since the beginning of their coup in September 2014. It trains Houthi fighters in sabotage and subversion operations against the elected authorities.
In February 2016, a videotape found by Yemeni security forces at a location liberated from Houthi militia purportedly confirmed the involvement of Lebanese Hezbollah militia in supporting the rebels and plotting terrorist attacks in Saudi territory.
The video supposedly showed a Hezbollah field commander with a group of armed men during a training session and announcing preparations for a “special” operation targeting Riyadh. In December 2017, it was reported that three Lebanese Hezbollah operatives were killed in Hajjah province in western Yemen.
Hezbollah was one of the major parties behind the coup against legitimacy in Yemen. It played an even greater role from September 2014-March 2015 when Tehran established a direct air link with Sana’a that was used to strengthen the military capabilities of the Houthi militias. This was confirmed by leading military figures in the Yemeni Presidential Guard, who, after the assassination of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh last December, spoke of receiving military training from Hezbollah agents.
Nasrallah’s admission of supporting the Houthis represents a stark violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216, specifically Article 13, which prohibits countries and organisations from providing any military support to the Houthi militias.
Hezbollah’s violation of the article qualifies as a crime against Yemen and the entire region and places the perpetrator among the rogue organisations and parties seeking to aggravate the crisis in Yemen.
An ironic aspect of the Houthis’ replication of Hezbollah’s methods and strategies is how they left garbage in the streets of Sana’a in 2016, creating a scene reminiscent of the tons of rubbish in the streets of Beirut because of Hezbollah tactics in Lebanon. Except that this time, the garbage crisis in Yemen had more horrific consequences. Cholera broke out in 18 Yemeni provinces and hundreds of citizens died.
The Houthis became experts at aping Hezbollah. Even al-Houthi strives to reproduce the Nasrallah’s oratory style and mannerisms. He would try to best himself in finding the harshest anti-American rhetoric but secretly seeks Uncle Sam’s satisfaction. Everybody remembers how the Obama administration facilitated the growth of Iran’s tentacular organisations’ apparent anti-American stance.
All the patriotic political forces in Lebanon are engaged in a sustained struggle against the policies of Hezbollah, whose foreign interventions have greatly damaged the Lebanese state. Hezbollah was involved in terrorist attacks targeting Saudi Arabia and made incursions in Bahrain, Syria and Iraq.
It has constantly meddled in Lebanon’s internal politics trying to push an Iranian agenda. Because of its actions, the Lebanese state was unable to pursue developmental and economic projects. The party refuses to abide by Lebanon’s commitment to a non-interference policy.
In Yemen, the price of Hezbollah’s policies is being paid for by the helpless Yemeni population. It’s a heavy tribute of greater poverty, hunger and disease. Since the Houthi coup, thousands have been killed and more than 3 million people displaced. These scary statistics are the direct results of Houthi policies with foreign support.
Fortunately, the relationship between Lebanon and Yemen is different. Lebanon is one of the few countries to grant
unconditional access to Yemenis. It hosts thousands of Yemeni students, workers and political refugees. For Yemen, Lebanon is an Arab brother country that shares its pains and burdens despite the distance.