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

Why Do Houthi Insurgents Insist on War?

Why Do Houthi Insurgents Insist on War?

Thursday, 24 June, 2021 - 08:30
A funeral service for Houthi combatants in Sanaa (EPA)

So far, Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen continue to refuse to engage with any UN and international community proposals for achieving a ceasefire and bring about peace to Yemen.

For many Yemenis, Houthis evading peace efforts can be traced back to a mix of the very nature of the militia, its violence-oriented ideology, and the goal of advancing Iran’s expansionist ambitions in the region.

For the regime in Tehran, dominating the south of the Arabian Peninsula would give it a serious grip on one of the key routes for international trade.

Houthis rejecting peace efforts mounted by both the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths and US Special Envoy Tim Lenderking over the last few weeks begs a fundamental question: “What leverages do Yemenis and the official state have against this group?”

The Iran-backed insurgency has constantly dodged conciliatory efforts and exploited the protracted conflict to achieve political and military gains. They do so by secretly piggybacking their personal goals on humanitarian relief agendas.

Each day, the challenge of forcing compliance from the group and moving it away from Iran’s expansionist program becomes tougher—especially that the militias are working nonstop towards the “Houthification” (Houthi sectarian indoctrination) of local communities.

“Houthis have no regard to politics, nationalism or authority in Yemen,” warns Yemeni academic and political researcher Fares al-Beil.

“They simply refuse peace efforts because peace would spell their end,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat, adding that militias thrive only during wars.

“War constitutes life for militias, while peace ends their raison d’être.”

According to Beil, Houthi militias were created to add fuel to the fires of battle in Yemen, and this has nothing to do with love for their country.

“There is no connection between their Yemeni identity and their Iranian undertaking,” explained the researcher, adding that Houthis exclusively serve their mission without holding “any respect or value for their future.”

Iran’s ultimate plan for Houthis is that they remain a proxy for spreading destruction in the region.

For Beil, It’s wishful thinking to believe that Iran, after Houthis succeeded in turning parts of Yemen into military bastions that answer directly to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, would accept giving up its influence in exchange for peace.

“It is not reasonable for Iran to give up all of that and go with Houthis partnering in an authority or government and giving up their weapons, projects, and ambitions,” said Beil.

Iran believes that it has accomplished a lot with the militia, so it is a far shot that it would abandon all this and hand the militias over to a Yemeni national project and a state of peace and concession.

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