“God is great, death to the United States and Israel” is the battle cry printed on the flags of the Houthis, Tehran’s Janissaries in Yemen. A political and religious armed group, now the size of a small army, possesses artillery, tanks, drones and missiles capable of hitting a target about two thousand kilometers away. The Houthis can muster 120,000 men near the Red Sea. General Hossein Salemi of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard confirmed that it is “a copy of Hezbollah (the armed Shiite party in Lebanon) in a strategic area.” It is not a coincidence that their political leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, reveres Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese Janissaries in Iran.
The Houthi clan is based in the north, and had a stronghold in the city of Saada. In 2004, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a Sunni, with the support of the Saudis, launched a hunt for Shiites who had formed the Ansar Allah movement, Ansar Allah, killing their leader, Hussein al-Houthi. His death marked the beginning of the armed revolution that would split the country in two, causing a bloody and devastating war. Not only are the Houthis advancing, but they control bases and arsenals full of weapons and ammunition. The conflict, with direct Saudi intervention and Iranian support for Shiite militiamen, caused the deaths of 150,000 people, hunger and cholera. The Houthis have controlled the capital, Sanaa, since 2014, and a large part of the country, with the government, which describes itself as “legitimate,” retreating to Aden in the south, and the ceasefire is still in place. Meanwhile, the Houthis became an army thanks to training provided by Hezbollah and military technology provided by the Iranians.
The Shiites in power in the capital have established veritable missile, drone and missile factories in Sanaa and Al-Sadha, and rely on the important sea port of Hodeidah, which the allies are bombing. After the Israeli invasion of Gaza, sparked by the Hamas massacre on October 7, Major General Yahya Saree announced that the Houthi army “will prevent Israeli ships from sailing in the Red Sea.” The Shiites began firing rockets at Eilat, the southern port of the Jewish state, which is 1,800 kilometers away. Thanks to Iranian technicians, the Houthis have developed suicide drones such as the Qasef 2K, which can strike the Red Sea within a 200-kilometre radius. The Sammad 4 drone is more advanced and drops a bomb. The Shiites also developed the Quds 2 cruise missile, from the Arabic name for Jerusalem. On top of that, the Barkhane's range is about 2,000 kilometers.
On the ground, Houthi artillery has developed missiles with increasingly sophisticated guidance systems such as the Badr-F, and new versions of the Sa'ir, Qasim, and Nakal, which have a margin of error on target of three metres. The astonishing aspect is that then-President Donald Trump included the Houthis on the terrorist list only in January 2020, one day before he was replaced by Joe Biden. The new occupant of the White House immediately removed the Shiite group from the blacklist.
In addition to infantry and tank units, the Shiite army recruits special forces, who boarded an Israeli shipowner's merchant ship in the Red Sea by lowering themselves from a helicopter. This movie-like operation was made possible thanks to information provided by the Behshad, an Iranian spy ship in the middle of the Red Sea, just north of the Bab el-Mandab Strait, the Canadian fork of global maritime trade.
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