Houthi and Iran... a deep ideological connection that began four decades ago

English - الأحد 29 يناير 2023 الساعة 05:50 م
Sanaa, NewsYemen, Muhammad Yahya:

 After the success of the "Khomeini" revolution in Iran in 1979, Tehran adopted a policy of "exporting the revolution" under the slogan of supporting the "oppressed", initially relying on sectarian mechanisms to extend its influence religiously, which fueled tension between it and the Arab neighborhood, so that the Iranian regime would live in a state of undeclared hostility with its surroundings.  During the past forty years, it sought to fuel sectarian conflicts in a number of Arab countries, and to support the establishment of sectarian militias that would allow Iran to extend its influence in the Arab region and directly interfere in the affairs of some countries.

Khomeini flag raiser

 During the Iran-Iraq war between 1980 and 1988, the regime in northern Yemen stood on the side of Iraq, and Sanaa provided direct support to Baghdad in its fierce war with Iran, which was then making great efforts to spread Shiism in Yemen, within the policy of "exporting the revolution", by bringing in missions  Yemeni students to study in Iran and Lebanon.

At that time, the followers of the Twelver Jarudi school of thought in Saada, led by the Al-Houthi family, were influenced by the thought of Khomeini, and were supportive of Iran in its war with Iraq, and sought to build bridges of communication with Tehran, at a time when they were engaged in religious conflicts with their opponents of the scholars of the Zaydi sect.  Due to their adoption of extremist Shiite ideas, especially after the visit of Hussein Badr al-Din al-Houthi - the founder of the Houthi group - to Iran in 1986, when he was the first to raise the Khomeinist flag in Yemen.

There were long discussions about the defection of Badr al-Din al-Houthi and his sons from other Zaidi scholars, and their conversion to the Jarudi school of thought, which is closer to the extremist Twelvers, as an alternative to the moderate Zaidi school of thought. These discussions concluded with the Iranian role in Yemen and its support for the Houthi movement.

 A report by the Iranian website bultannews about "Ansar Allah" indicates that "after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Khomeini was a popular figure in the eyes of Hussein al-Houthi and his father," adding that al-Houthi reminds people of Quranic concepts, and wishes to establish a just Islamic state away from the domination of the East and West.  

Priest in Iran

 In 1994, the priest Badr al-Din al-Houthi - the spiritual father of the Houthis - and his sons succeeded in traveling to Iran, to serve as a temporary refuge for them after they left Saada, following the disputes that escalated between them and the Zaydi scholars, after they adopted the Shiite Jarudi ideology.

During the three years of their stay in Iran, the Al-Houthi family studied in the Iranian city of "Qom", the Twelver Ja'fari school of thought, and delved into extremist religious thought.

Hussein al-Houthi was influenced by the Jaafari doctrine and the Khomeinist revolution, so he returned again in the late 1990s to Iran, to expand his study of the doctrine in addition to political studies in the Khomeinist revolution.  After his return to Yemen, he adopted a discourse similar to the Iranian one, after mobilizing followers around him, winning their loyalty, raising the Iranian slogan, and reviving sectarian events.

down payment spy

 By the year 2000, the trips of al-Houthi's followers to Iran intensified, and among them were clerics, politicians, and media figures, who were attracted by Tehran to receive sectarian lessons in Iranian seminaries, only to return imbued with Khomeini's thought.

 The returnees from Iran established spy cells for Tehran, which were revealed by the Yemeni government at the time after it dismantled them, accusing Tehran of interfering in the country's internal affairs. Among the members of the spy cell were Muhammad Moftah and Ahmed al-Dailami, members of the sectarian al-Haq Party.

Yelp year

 After it was able to attract the Houthi family and build close relations with them, in order to invest in them to carry out its terrorism and expand its influence in Yemen, Iran sought to replicate another model in Yemen, similar to Hezbollah in Lebanon, where it is easy for it to circumvent the Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia.

For this purpose, Tehran provided support to Hussein al-Houthi to establish training centers and summer camps and equip them to attract young people. It also doubled its material and media support to his followers after they turned into a rebel group.

In the beginning of the year 2002, Hussein al-Houthi began chanting the Iranian cry in the Al-Hadi Mosque in Saada, after which his group entered into a war with the state and on the Saudi border from 2004 to 2010, after receiving material support from Iran, to buy weapons from the black market.

The way to liberate Palestine

 Khaled al-Hroub, a professor of international relations at Northwestern University and a research fellow at the University of Cambridge, believes that “Tehran has assumed the role of the standard-bearer of “resisting Israel” as a way to expand its popularity in the Arab region, not only at the level of slogans raised by Iran and its allies, and even those who are geographically far from the conflict of the Palestinian-Israeli like the Houthis.

In October 2014, Ali Akbar Velayati spoke in a meeting with a group of Houthi religious leaders, according to what was reported by the Iranian Bulletin News website, saying: "Iran has a long-term relationship with the Houthis, who play a very important role in this revolution."  Pointing out that "Iran's first issue is Palestine, and the path to liberating Palestine passes through Yemen, because Yemen has an important strategic location and is next to the Indian Ocean, the Sea of Oman and the Bab al-Mandab." 

Leadership training

 With the end of the third war in 2006, Iran had decided to increase its support for the Houthis, and began sending, through its embassy in Sana'a, members of the Revolutionary Guards to Saada to help the group, and before the invasion of Sana'a in late 2014, the most prominent leaders of the Houthi militia had traveled to Iran, Lebanon and Syria, and trained by experts from the Revolutionary Guards, through its arms, the Quds Force and Hezbollah.

After 2011, Tehran intensified its support for the Houthis, and worked to raise the efficiency of their fighters, especially after Iranian infiltration and entry into Yemen became easier than it was, as a result of the weakness of the Yemeni state at the time.

 According to a report by the Strategic Thought Center for Studies, issued in May 2015, "The Revolutionary Guards were directly involved in training the elite forces of the Houthi group, He pointing out that the Hussein Army was the nucleus of the elite forces of the Houthi group, and that this force received training from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

The report indicated that the training took place in southern Lebanon, Damascus and Tehran, in two phases. The first phase, which took place in 2011 and 2012, focused on senior and middle leaders. The second phase was carried out in the Houthi camps in Saada, and cadres from Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guard participated in it.

And European diplomatic sources revealed in statements to the Italian news agency "Aki" that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is training groups of Houthi fighters in training centers in southern Syria.  And that these Houthi fighters undergo practical training courses by participating in battles before they return to Yemen.

According to those sources, “the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is preparing batches of Houthi fighters from Yemen, each batch reaching about a hundred fighters, who will train in camps in southern Syria, specifically in Busra and Izraa, and participate in the battles taking place there, to gain combat experience and skills, before they return to Yemen so that another alternative batch will come.”

According to the Italian agency, "Officers and non-commissioned officers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards supervise and train these Yemenis, and they acquire skills in Syria that they lack and need. Neither the Syrian regime nor the Lebanese Hezbollah has any role or influence over these Houthi fighters."

Information confirms that Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, played a prominent role in developing ties between the Houthis and Iran and bringing them to the summit of cooperation.  Qassem Soleimani usually met the leaders of the Houthis abroad, and the Quds Force admitted more than once to training the Houthis in Yemen.