Written By: Elena White
Article Date: May 12, 2012 - 8:59:20 PM
Tensions are mounting in Yemen’s Northern provinces in between, al-Houthis, a Shia rebel group advocating a return to the ancestral rule of the Imams and hence a break from the Republic, and Salafis, Sunni radicals.
The sectarian clashes resumed last year as Abdel Malek al-Houthi used the power vacuum created by the uprising to snatch territories and put under his control yet more provinces.
The Salafis who are ideologically at odds with the Shia rebel sworn to drive the militants away from Yemen, determined to crush the brewing Shia insurrection.
After months of intermittent battles and the loss of many civilian lives, al-Houthis who are allegedly bank-rolled by Iran are now warning that they will not stand idly while Saudi Arabia is gathering its troops alongside the Yemeni-Saudi borders and threaten to strike them.
"What the Saudi kingdom is doing conflicts with religious and humanitarian values as well as the interest of the two countries," said Abdel Malek al-Houthi, the leader of the group.
Al-Houthis already fought a long and bloody war against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime from 2005 to 2009 and latter in 2009 with Saudi Arabia, which ended with the unilateral declaration of a truce.
It is the group’s expansion which prompted Saudi Arabia’s anger as the monarchy fears that Teheran through the Shia rebel will strike at the heart of the Sunni world and destabilize the current region’s power plates. Now in control of three provinces, al-Jawf, Hajjah and Sa’ada, al-Houthi fighters are standing directly under the nose of the Saudis, having gained an opening onto the Red Seas which facilitates the arrival through ships of weapons and other military equipment send by Teheran, Crown Prince Nayyef, a longtime supporter of the Salafis decided it was time to act.
Political analyst, Ahmed al-Sofi told the Yemen Observer that “Saudi Arabia and Iran were planning to use Yemen as a surrogate for their war, battling for control over the region.”
It was established several months ago that Teheran was meddling in Yemen’s internal affairs as to forward its own political agenda within the region and eclipse the KSA as the Peninsula’s main power.
Tribal sources in Khalan, north of the capital, Sana’a told the Yemen Observer that al-Houthi militants were already erecting barricades in the directorate, ahead of an armed conflict. Several residents expressed fear over a possible war with Saudi Arabia, saying under cover of anonymity that foreign mercenaries paid by Iran had been gathering around the command of Sheikh al-Houthi.
Rumors are circulating in the Northern provinces that Iran is planning to set up a new Hezbollah-type cell in Yemen and ignite a sectarian war.
Sheikh Abdel-Rahman al-Rawahi also confirmed that al-Houthis were on the war path, “digging up barricades for their insurgents and distributing weapons to their men.”
Al-Rawahi warned al-Houthis of such a blatant provocation, saying that acts had consequences, adding “America and the Jews" are not in khalan or in Yemen in general”, hinting that their so-called enemies were imaginary and therefore their campaign illegitimate.
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