Yemen’s Houthis ‘similar’ to Lebanon’s Hezbollah: Iran official

The Shiite Houthi group is ‘similar’ to the Shiite movement in Lebanon, Hezbollah, Ali Shirazi, a representative of Ayatollah Khamenei says

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The Shiite Houthi group, currently dominating Yemen, is “similar” to the Shiite movement in Lebanon, Hezbollah, a representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the Qods Force of the Revolutionary Guards has said.

“The Houthi group is a similar copy to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and this group will come into action against enemies of Islam,” Ali Shirazi was quoted as saying in an interview published on Sunday by the Defa Press news agency, which is close to Iran’s armed forces.


“The Islamic republic directly supports the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the popular forces in Syria and Iraq,” he said, adding that “officials in the country have reiterated this many times.”

Shiite fighters in Iraq and Syria have volunteered against radical Sunni militias to safeguard Shiite shrines. In Iraq, the volunteers are also supporting the country’s army in its fight against ISIS jihadists, who have seized large swathes of land.

Adding weight behind his stance on the Houthis, Shirazi said “a coup against Ansarallah [also known as Houthis] means a coup against the people. Ansarallah is not a small group or a special party as it represents the Yemeni people and its awakening.”

The Houthis on Monday stormed Sanaa University and detained dozens of people protesting against the group.

Earlier, the group blocked access to the capital’s university as opponents of their takeover of Sanaa called for more demonstrations.

The group, who descended from their base in Yemen’s rugged north to overrun the capital in September, fired in the air on Sunday to disperse a protest at Change Square.

“Hezbollah was formed in Lebanon as a popular force like al-Basij. Similarly popular forces were also formed in Syria and Iraq, and today we are watching the formation of Ansarallah in Yemen,” he added.

The Basji is a paramilitary volunteer militia established in 1979 by order of Ayatollah Khomeini. The original organization comprised of the civilian volunteers whom the Ayatollah Khomeini urged to fight in the Iran–Iraq war.

He added: “These forces [Houthis] will come into action in the future against enemies of Islam and Muslims.”

The official also commented on the killing of an Iranian general in an alleged Israeli air strike last Sunday in Syria.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Mohammed Allahdadi was in the Quneitra area on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights with Hezbollah personnel at outposts that the Syrians and the Iranian had built in order to counter rebels.

Shirazi said Iran will “take vengeance for the killing of General Allahdadi and Hezbollah elements killed in Syria’s Quneitra.”

He warned: “The Zionists should wait for a response in any time or place.”

While Houthis reject allegations that it is backed by Tehran, it is not the first time an Iranian official has expressed support for the Yemeni militiamen.

In late 2014, Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran supported the “rightful struggles” of the Shiite Houthi Ansarullah movement in Yemen, and “considers this movement as part of the successful Islamic Awakening movements.”

The conservative Iranian newspaper Kayhan also considered the Houthis as a natural extension for the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.

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