Iran depends on three militias to expand and “export the revolution.” The first and most important militia and probably the most successful one is Hezbollah in Lebanon. The second one is the Islamized Hamas militia in Gaza while the third, and which is so far considered the weakest, is the Houthi militia in Yemen.
Iran’s three militias
Among these militias, Hezbollah is the strongest and it’s due to former prime minister Rafiq Hariri who approved to disarm all the factions fighting in the Lebanese civil war except for Hezbollah; thus allowing it almost complete control over Lebanese territory. Thanks to Iran’s financial support, the priorities of Hamas, the terrorist militia in Gaza, focused on paving way for the Persian expansion after which they will liberate Palestine from the river to the sea as they claim. Hamas greatly contributed in turning the Palestinian cause into the “shirt of Uthman” which the Iranians use to extend their expansive influence in Arab countries.
The third militia is the Houthi Militia which belongs to the Zaidi sect but it’s oriented towards Jarudiyah branch which is a very small percentage of the Zaidi sect in North Yemen. Their percentage ranges between 5 to 10% of the Yemeni people, and they almost have no influence over people in South Yemen.
Avoiding the Lebanese scenario
Due to objective reasons, Saudi Arabia and the UAE cannot allow repeating Lebanon’s mistake, i.e. replicate Hezbollah’s model in Yemen. The war in Yemen may last for 10 years or more and so be it as the Houthis’ victory there means that Iran would be at our south. The Saudi people and government totally and irrevocably reject this regardless of any pressure or arguments under the pretext that the Yemeni war destroyed everything like human rights organizations, which are generously funded by the Qatari regime, claim.
The Saudis do not reject a political solution, but they strictly reject that the political solution in Yemen resembles the solution reached during the Lebanese civil war. Hezbollah was allowed to keep its weapons thus becoming the strongest party with no competitor after the civil war ended in Lebanon. The political solution in Yemen should thus begin with the Houthi militias’ handover of their weapons to the national army which represents all the Yemeni people and not only one category. Iran of course rejects this - and the Houthis consequently do as well – because the Houthis’ coup mainly aimed to let it have the final word when directing decisions. This goal helps the Houthis achieve what they are fighting for. This is also what mainly obstructs any political solution to the ongoing war.
That’s why I believe that the political solution suggested by the Houthis is impossible and it will not be accepted by the Yemeni legitimacy or the coalition members, especially Saudi Arabia, even if the entire world takes their side. Saudi Arabia and the coalition states do not mind forming a consensus government in which the Houthis are represented as a political movement and not as a military militia. The unpoliticized national Yemeni army will be the one to protect this consensus while everyone, including the Houthis, contributes to it like all other parties.
Here lies the complex that will eventually require the coalition countries to impose their perspective of a political solution with the force of arms. This is the only option.
This article was originally published in Al Jazirah.
Mohammed Al Shaikh is a Saudi writer with al-Jazirah newspaper. He tweets @alshaikhmhmd