Saleh’s reported death comes on the heels of intensifying clashes in the capital Sanaa between the Ansar Allah movement(popularly known as the “Houthis”) and forces loyal to Yemen’s former strongman. The fierce in-fighting in Sanaa – coupled with a stepped up Saudi air campaign against ostensibly Houthi targets in the city – helped to precipitate a complete breakdown in the Houthi-Saleh alliance.
The Saleh connection
Saleh’s reported death – allegedly as a result of fighting with Houthi militias – renders the end of the alliance all but inevitable. Whilst this development does not necessarily translate to a Saudi victory, at minimum it deals a major blow to Iran’s effort at defeating Saudi goals in Yemen.
In fact, the growing isolation of the Houthis, with social media accounts showing popular anger against their rule, throws Iran’s entire Yemen strategy into question. Absent a viable political alternative to the one proposed by the Saudi-led coalition, Iran does not have a sustainable Yemeni strategy.
In the light of Saleh’s ill-fated alliance with the Houthis, his difficult relationship with Iran has all but been forgotten. It is worth remembering that the slain Yemeni leader was a bête noire of the Islamic Republic for more than two decades.
Saleh was a strong ally of Baathist Iraq and lent Saddam Hussein significant rhetorical and practical support during the Iran-Iraq war. Indeed, Yemenis acting in both ideological and mercenary capacities, fought against Iranian troops throughout the war.
Following the war’s end, Saleh’s continuing support for Iraq’s strategic ambitions, notably his highly controversial decision to support the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, was a source of concern for Tehran.
More recently, Saleh’s decision to crack down on the Houthis in 2004, thus sparking a series of Houthi-led insurgencies in the northern Saada province, was treated as a challenge by Iran in so far as it weakened a potential ally.
Saleh’s military and political support
Whilst the origins of Iran’s partnership with the Houthis is not entirely clear, it is more than likely contacts were made early in the 1990s, when the Houthis first emerged as a social and cultural force in Yemen’s northern extremity. From Iran’s perspective, the Houthi’s geographical proximity to Saudi Arabia made them hard to ignore.
Ironically Saleh prosecuted the successive wars against the Houthis in part on the same premise as the one adopted by the Saudi-led coalition, namely that the Ansar Allah movement represents a “proto-Hezbollah” and thus an extension of Iran.
It was against this backdrop that Iran supported the 2011 Yemeni uprising, in addition to a strongly held perception in Tehran that Saleh was supported by Saudi Arabia as part of a broader strategy to contain the influence of the so-called Arab Spring on the Arabian Peninsula.
Iran Briefing | News Press Focus on Human Rights Violation by IRGC, Iran Human Rights
Mar 10, 2017 Comments Off on Arab Paper Accuses Iran of Indoctrinating Yemeni Youth, Shipping Drugs to Houthis
Oct 20, 2016 Comments Off on Iran-Backed Houthis Stage over 43 Violations to Yemen Ceasefire Agreement
Mar 07, 2015 Comments Off on Iran is exporting its Islamic Revolution into Syria, Iraq and Yemen just as it did in Lebanon
Feb 16, 2015 Comments Off on Why defeating fundamentalism requires a democratic Iran
May 23, 2018 Comments Off on Iran’s Telegram Users Back on the Rise Three Weeks After State Banned the App
May 23, 2018 Comments Off on Iran: Political Prisoner Faces A Five-Year Additional Prison Term
May 18, 2018 Comments Off on IRAN-BACKED HOUTHIS ARE TORTURING PEOPLE TO DEATH, SAYS FORMER DETAINEE
May 10, 2018 Comments Off on Trump Bets Sanctions Will Force Iran to Bargain. There’s No Plan B.
May 10, 2018 Comments Off on Trump Bets Sanctions Will Force Iran to Bargain. There’s No Plan B.Trump Bets Sanctions Will Force Iran to Bargain. There’s No Plan B. President Trump said on Wednesday that he expects Iran to continue to comply with the terms of the 2015 deal that limits Tehran’s nuclear...
May 06, 2018 Comments Off on Ali Soltani: Fight for democracy continues in IranAli Soltani: Fight for democracy continues in Iran Spring marks the start of a new year in Iran. The holiday of Nowruz translates as “new day,” a symbol of hope for Iranians everywhere.Clinging to hope over...
Jul 14, 2016 Comments Off on Corps’ one hundred thousand of triggered missiles in Lebanon:An official Israel-threatening by CorpsIran Briefing: Since August 7, 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini declared the last Friday of Ramadhan as “Quds Day”, the Islamic Republic has always tried to hold an imposing ceremony by using state resources as well as requiring people’s involvement. This year’s Quds march had fundamental...