Yemen’s Houthi rebels, based more than 1,000 miles away from Israel in their stronghold of Sanaa, have recently entered the Israel-Hamas conflict. They announced on October 31 that they had launched drone and missile attacks on Israel. These actions emphasize the potential regional ramifications of the ongoing conflict.
Who are Yemen’s Houthis
The Houthis, officially known as the Ansar Allah (Supporters of Allah), are a Shia Muslim rebel group that emerged in Yemen in the early 2000s. They belong to the Zaidi sect, which is a branch of Shia Islam predominantly found in Yemen. The Houthi movement gained prominence in the late 2000s and early 2010s, primarily due to their opposition to the Yemeni government and their calls for greater autonomy and political representation for their community in the northern part of Yemen.
The Houthi insurgency escalated into a full-scale conflict in 2014 when they seized control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and later, large parts of the country. This resulted in a prolonged and multifaceted conflict often referred to as the Yemeni Civil War. The Houthi movement has received support from Iran, which has contributed to their military capabilities and political clout in Yemen.
Houthi Attacks On Israel
Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree, in a televised statement, confirmed that the group had launched a substantial number of ballistic missiles and drones towards Israel on October 31. He further asserted that more such attacks were planned to assist the Palestinians in achieving victory. Saree’s statement seemed to acknowledge the Houthi involvement in three separate attacks on Israel during the ongoing conflict. This included the drone attack on October 28, which caused explosions in Egypt and was attributed to the Houthis by Israel. Additionally, he mentioned an incident on October 19 when the U.S. Navy intercepted three cruise missiles, suggesting Houthi responsibility for these actions.
Aim Of The Attacks
The Houthi rebels, part of an “Axis of Resistance” supported by Iran, have expressed solidarity with the Palestinians in the aftermath of Hamas’ actions against Israel. Yahya Saree, their spokesperson, accused Israel of contributing to instability in the Middle East and expanding the “circle of conflict” through its ongoing actions. The Houthi rebels have stated their intent to continue launching attacks until Israeli aggression ceases. It’s worth noting that the Houthi movement’s slogan is “Death to America, Death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory to Islam.”
Links With Iran
The Houthi rebels have showcased their missile and drone capabilities in the context of the Yemeni conflict. They have conducted attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with a focus on striking oil installations and critical infrastructure.
The Saudi-led coalition has accused Iran of providing the Houthis with arms, training, and financial support. In contrast, the Houthi group refutes the claim that they are an Iranian proxy, asserting that they independently develop their own weaponry.