After Houthi’s absolute failure in Yemen, and the halt of all methods of support and expansion, and his continuous defeats and losses, he found in Iran as the last resort, the sole supporter of terrorism and sabotage in Yemen. Why not and Iran’s goals are clear and obvious where Houthi can pose a very important vehicle, through which Iran can show its hatred towards Arabs, its hostility to the Gulf and its desire to spread the culture of sectarianism in all countries of the region. This is in addition to the strategic importance of Yemen and the economic gains that Tehran might gain if it were able to control its ports and overlooking the Bab al-Mandab Straits.
This is exactly what the Yemeni political analyst Faris al-Bel has said: “The Houthis’ visit to Iran clearly reveals the extent of Iran’s enormous intervention in directing the Houthis and in handling its expansionist project in Yemen since Houthis being used as an Iranian vehicle no matter how this movement tried to limit its project within the Yemeni arena.” Iran is also trying after this visit, and in preparation for the upcoming stage of negotiations over the Yemeni situation, to enter directly as a negotiating party against the legitimate government and the Arab alliance. At that time, everything would be clear, and the main party would step forward as it has always been acting from behind the scene. This would transfer the Yemeni conflict into different stage, more complicated where it is expected to turn into a game of interests and balances. However, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the coalition countries will be an impenetrable wall against these Safavid expansionist colonialist dreams, which only bring destruction and division to the Arab world and the world at large.
Al-Houthi is trying to use Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif to gain political gains and for arranging visits and official meetings. In another word, he is working to return to the political dialogue he has always rejected and contributed to its failure since the beginning of the Yemeni crisis. However, after the crushing blow and deep isolation he is suffering after he killed his former allies, Ali Abdullah Saleh and Secretary General of the Congress Party Aref al-Zuka in late 2017, which made him lose the ally, whom he used as a negotiator party in the official negotiations to resolve the Yemeni crisis. This situation forced al-Houthi to resort overtly to Iran, which deals with the Houthis with double standards, on the one hand, Tehran declares that it does not recognize the Houthis as a state and did not deal with their delegations with the official delegation protocols, however, it supports them from under the table militarily and logistically, and gives them advice, orders and weapons in their unjust war in Yemen.
The subjects raised by the Houthis’ delegation when meeting with Zarif reflect the extent of the losses suffered by the group, the few options they have and the state of collapse it suffers. And this has forced it to work on opening new channels of communication and using Iranian diplomacy in order to prepare for several meetings, most of which did not take place, including the visit to Moscow and Beijing, in addition to a meeting which was canceled for unknown reasons with the UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed in the Omani capital, Muscat. Some sources told the London-based Al-Arab Newspaper that there is an Omani mediation between the Houthi group and the Congress party and has succeeded in releasing most of the latter’s leaders were held in the Houthis’ prisons. However, the dispute that caused the failure of these efforts was about the fate of the family of Saleh and his detained sons. Houthi released only two and retained two others for a later stage, which collided with the requirement of the leadership of the Congress Party at home of releasing all detainees, in light of the absence of confidence between the two parties.
According to private sources, Houthis’ failure, weakness and collapse have reached the limit where he had to open channels with Riyadh itself in order to revive the understandings of Dhahran Al Janub in which they had reached a preliminary agreement to calm with Saudi Arabia, which Houthis, in their military confrontations against the Arab coalition forces led by it, have suffered heavy losses that they were unable to continue the war with. And with the multiplicity of parties that al-Houthi must approach and calm the situation with, it seems that the task before him is very arduous and even seems almost impossible and warns that the political solution and returning to negotiations with al-Houthi, as a part of the future of Yemen, is impossible. With the advances and victories achieved by the coalition forces on the ground, the military action and the elimination of this terrorist group might be the closest solution. According to Yemeni political analyst, Abdullah Ismail, regional events and developments in Yemen do not give any positive signs towards easing the political stalemate.
Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre
14 February 2018