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News Analysis

RI Exclusive: Iranian-Saudi Proxy War in Yemen Escalates

Wed, November 7, 2012

Ryan Mauro

ClarionProject.org has been told by a reliable source that Saudi officials are helping an increasing number of Salafist militants enter Yemen in order to fight the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels there. The source warns that the Houthis are gaining control of more territory. The Iranian objective is to threaten the Bab El-Mandeb Strait between the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

The source confirms that the popularity of the Houthis is increasing, as is seen in the size of their growing demonstrations against the Yemeni government, especially for its ties to the U.S.

American drone strikes are a focal point of the condemnations. The propaganda of the Houthis, which includes posters that say, “God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, A Curse on the Jews,” reflects their close ties to Iran.

The National Post quotes a tribal chief in Yemen’s Hajjah Province as saying that the Houthis are “now in total control of Sa’adah, the majority of [the adjacent] Al-Jawf [governorate], around 40% of Hajjah and swaths of land in Amran province.”

The Houthis have also forged a partnership with the Southern Movement, a secessionist group that has also been accused of receiving Iranian sponsorship.

Iran’s alliances with Sudan and Eritrea (which is led by a Christian dictator that supports Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia) give it access to the western side of the Red Sea. A Houthi enclave in Yemen permits Iran to threaten the Red Sea from the east.

ClarionProject.org’s source expressed serious concern about the Saudi reaction to the Houthis. He reports that members of the Saudi National Guard are logistically helping Salafist militants enter Yemen to battle the Houthis. Local Saudi policemen have arrested these Salafists only to have them released on the orders of the governor of Asir Province.

The source says that the Salafist militants provide a recruiting pool for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has a chance to make a comeback in Yemen. He said that Aden is suffering from food and fuel shortages and “looks to be heading towards total anarchy” which would benefit Al-Qaeda.

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org's National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.