Sana’a is a victim of Iran’s export of revolution

Sana’a is but one victim of this Iranian export, which brings only destruction and desolation, backwardness and sectarian strife.
Sunday 17/02/2019
A Houthi fighter stands in the rubble of a building in Sana’a. (AFP)
Proxy war. A Houthi fighter stands in the rubble of a building in Sana’a. (AFP)

The only thing that matters for the Houthis is the establishment of a certain reality in Yemen and an important part of that objective is a cease-fire in Hodeidah.

The Houthis want to remain in the city and by the port to establish an Iranian presence on the Red Sea. That is all there is to it. Iran is using the United Nations to create a new status quo in Yemen: a Houthi entity with Sana’a as the capital and an all-important foothold on the Red Sea.

Amid the confusion in Yemen today, the illegitimate Houthi presence in Sana’a, which has been occupied since September 21, 2014, has been overlooked. The international community is distracted by Hodeidah and its future but no mention is being made of the fundamental problem: the Houthis’ presence in the capital.

What are the Houthis doing in Sana’a? They wouldn’t have got their hands on the capital were it not for the many mistakes made by the legitimate government and other pro-legitimacy forces.

At some point in the conflict, the legitimate government and its allies restricted their mission to making life miserable for former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The latter waged war on the Houthis from 2004-10. He had an opportunity to win the confrontation but didn’t take it. Saleh paid with his life for toying with the Houthis.

It is certain that the mastermind of the Houthis is not Abdelmalik al-Houthi. Someone in Tehran and in Beirut has been doing the thinking and planning for them.

The Houthis have always had a very close and profound relationship with Lebanese Hezbollah and that is no secret. The Houthis are following the strategy of “take and make more demands” and that is exactly what Hezbollah has been doing in Lebanon and what Iran has been doing in Iraq.

This is something that those who initially underestimated the extent of coordination between the Syrian regime and Iran and its lackeys paid no attention to. The indictment issued by the International Court of Justice in The Hague in connection with Rafik Hariri’s assassination on February 14, 2005, is further proof of this.

Whether in Yemen, Iraq or Lebanon, Iran is seeking breakthroughs wherever it can. After the Houthis got their hands on Sana’a, they moved towards Taiz and southern Yemen. They are still in Taiz, where there is a Zaidi pocket. What cannot be overlooked is that they have supporters in Taiz, the Shafi’is in particular. The city is under undeclared alliance between the Houthis and the Muslim Brotherhood, or at least those who have an interest in dividing Yemen between the two sides.

Were it not for the Arab alliance that is still fighting to kick Iran out of Yemen, the Houthis would still be in Aden, which they controlled for a short time, and in Mocha, through which the Bab el Mandeb Strait can be controlled.

In southern Yemen, the Houthis struck alliances. This explains why there are southerners in the government formed by the Houthis in Sana’a.

What is unfolding in Yemen is another chapter in the battle with Iran in Yemen. The Houthis will take advantage of every opportunity and of every fissure in the opposite camp to have their own political and geographical entity.

The situation in Yemen cannot be isolated from the context of the Iranian expansion project. That project is based mainly on the long-term policy of fragmenting societies and institutions in Arab countries.

Like it or not, the Houthis emerged as the foremost winners of the popular uprising against Saleh’s regime in 2011. The Muslim Brothers, who took advantage of the wave of popular protests at the time and who tried, through their armed militias, to assassinate the former president on June 3, had no clue that everything they had been doing was in Iran’s interest.

It’s been four-and-a-half years since the Houthis seized control of Sana’a. Since then, we’ve witnessed the retreat of the Iranian project in Yemen thanks to the Decisive Storm campaign as well as its entrenchment in one part of Yemen.

So any new formula for Yemen will have to account for the existence of a Houthi entity that enjoys international cover, especially after the pressure exerted by international organisations on the Arab alliance since last May to avoid a military solution in Hodeidah.

Sooner or later, we will find out whether the Americans are serious about standing up to Iran in the region. Unfortunately, judging by the events in Yemen, it doesn’t look like they are.

Iran, on the other hand, is following a policy of taking quick bites at the Americans wherever it has proxies; so it is no coincidence that the Iraqi government is not yet complete despite the presence of a prime minister and of the fact that the parliamentary elections were more than eight months ago.

In Syria, the demographic makeup and balance in many areas, especially in Damascus and its surroundings, and along the border between Lebanon and Syria, have been changed. In Lebanon, the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri could not be formed until Iran had made sure that it had breached the Sunnis and the Druze after its wide-ranging penetration, which dates to the agreement signed February 6, 2006, by Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.

As we wait to see if change will take place inside Iran and if US sanctions have any effect on Tehran’s behaviour beyond its borders, the Yemenis, Syrians, Iraqis and Lebanese will, unfortunately, suffer at the hands of the madmen of the Islamic Revolution.

This revolution was a genuine one when it happened 40 years ago and overthrew the shah’s regime but it didn’t help Iran and the Iranians live in better conditions. The regime brought by this revolution knows only how to forge ahead with the revolution outside Iranian borders. Sana’a is but one victim of this Iranian export, which brings only destruction and desolation, backwardness and sectarian strife.