The Iran-backed Shi’ite terrorist organization in Yemen, the Houthis, have besieged the presidential palace in the capital city of Sana’a where they have grabbed de facto control in recent months, and even opened cannon fire on the palace to force their demands to be met.
The Houthis are threatening President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, demanding that he increase the Houthi Shi’ite minority’s representation in the parliament, that he change the draft constitution proposed in recent days, and that he agree to let the Houthis expand their control into additional regions of Yemen.
Those additional regions that the Houthis are demanding include areas rich in oil in the country’s east and south, as well as the Bab el-Mandeb strait which holds massive strategic importance in controlling the Red Sea – and as a result – sea access to Israel’s southern port of Eilat.
The Houthis are aided by members of the presidential guard who are loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was president until being deposed in 2012.
Their fierce gunfights on Monday with the army forces loyal to the current president left nine people killed and 67 people wounded.
During the clashes, the Houthis opened fire on the motor convoy of Yemen’s Prime Minister Khaled Bahah as he made his way to his office in the presidential palace.
Iran looking to take over Yemen, cut off Israel
Reports from Sana’a indicated that the Houthis and the president reached a ceasefire agreement, by which the president agreed to change the constitution, although it remains unclear if the standoff is over given the Houthis’ other demands. In any case, the ceasefire isn’t seen as having any meaningful change for the situation in Yemen, which is rapidly spiraling into a bloody civil war.
The London-based Arabic paper Asharq Al-Awsat reports that the tribes in southern and eastern Yemen that oppose the Houthis have recruited 13,000 fighters ready for war against them, should the Houthis carry out their threats to conquer the oil-rich areas by force.
Likewise they contacted the Sunni-jihadi Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which holds several bases in Yemen, to request their help in fighting off the Houthis.
In response to the Houthi actions in the capital, the tribes forced the oil companies to stop oil and gas production in the Shabwa and Hadhramaut Governorates, with a goal of cutting off oil supplies to Sana’a.
According to the tribal factions, Iranian officers are in Yemen aiding the Houthis take over the country, with their strategy being to conquer the key points of Bab el-Mandab, Ma’rib and Ta’izz, after having already conquered two Red Sea ports: Al Hudaydah and Miri.
Reportedly Iran is seeking to gain control over Yemen in a similar way in which it has used its proxy terror group Hezbollah to gain control in Lebanon. Control in Bab el-Mandeb would put Israeli and European commercial shipping routes between the Red Sea and Asia under the finger of Iran.
Iran held a massive naval drill late last December in which it sent war ships near the Yemenite coast, in a clear message signalling the Islamic regime’s interests.