Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Grasping Threats Posed by Iran-Backed Proxy Militias

Grasping Threats Posed by Iran-Backed Proxy Militias

Thursday, 13 June, 2019 - 08:30
Boys who are part of the Houthi fighters hold weapons as they ride on the back of a patrol truck in Sanaa March 13, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi
Aden - Ali Rabih

Houthi militias in Yemen, armed to the teeth by Iran, are striving to achieve Tehran regime goals in the region with military escalation. But such a strategy may entrap the insurgents into getting blinded with arrogance.

Years into waging a civil war, Yemeni militiamen, backed by Iran, have sought transforming their country into a launchpad for unleashing Iranian terror that threatens not only regional, but also international peace and stability.

Houthi warmongering tactics have been scaled up to target more civilians as crossborder attacks continue to threaten neighboring Saudi communities. This makes it easy to conclude that the Yemeni insurgency’s trajectory is moving towards the expansion of the war theater on which it operates.

But Houthis are not only looking to extend the reach of conflict, they are playing a malign role in negotiations intended to find a political roadmap for a serious and sustainable solution.

When taking Houthi actions and motives into consideration, it becomes evident that a military approach is the best bet when tackling the group’s intransigence towards ending hostilities.

Many observers point to the militia’s recent attack against Saudi Arabia’s Abha International Airport, which wounded 26 civilians, noting that it could prelude the freezing of international efforts for peace in the violence-riddled country.

Yemeni journalist and author Wadah Al Jaleel, in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, underscored that “Saudi Arabia and the Arab Coalition have strong justifications for responding to Houthi military escalation.”

“Houthis are transforming territory they control in Yemen into Iranian bases missioned primarily with the targeting of neighboring countries and blackmailing the world with their military capabilities that can harm international interests in the region, especially navigation in Red Sea waters.”

Houthis appear to have been exploiting peace initiatives sponsored by the United Nations to gain time for boosting their own arms capabilities. The UN-backed truce in the vital Red Sea port city of Hodeidah was abused by the Iran-backed militia to develop rocket assembly sites and arms depots, where smuggled munition, weaponry, and explosive land and naval mines are stored to stage future military offensives.

Such behavior casts grave doubts when Houthi spokesman Muhammad Abdulsalam Felita pushes for reopening the coup-run airport in Sanaa. Houthis’ history of aggression suggests that the airfield will be used as another conduit for Iranian mobility in the region, especially as the cleric-led regime in Tehran comes under the pressure of debilitating US economic sanctions.

Similarly, Yemeni researcher Dr. Faris Al-Bel believes that the response to Houthi aggression should be conducted on both “political and military levels.”

He highlighted the need to unmask ground realities before the international community, so that the Iran proxy is exposed for what it is and what agenda it is truly undertaking.

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