Iran-backed militias in Syria and Iraq have vowed to join the Houthis in Yemen to fight against the Saudi-led coalition, The Long War Journal reported yesterday.
Abu Waala Al-Wa’eli, the secretary-general of the Kata’ib Sayyid Al-Shuhada (KSS), declared that he is “a soldier standing at the signal of Sayyid Abdel Malik Al-Houthi,” the leader of the Houthi movement in Yemen. He added that the KSS is “a faction among your factions O Ansar Allah”, using the official name of the Houthis.
This is not the first time that the KSS has looked to fight beyond Syria and Iraq. It threatened to “strike and destroy” Saudi Arabia after the death penalty was confirmed for the Shia cleric Nimr Al-Nimr by the Saudi authorities in 2015.
Late last week, Abdul Malik Al-Houthi expressed gratitude to both the Lebanese Hezbollah and KSS, insinuating a close connection with the Iran-aligned groups: “We express our thanks and appreciation for all the free and honourable people who expressed solidarity with our people… starting with the master of the resistance and the jihad of God’s promise and man of loyalty and great honour, Hasan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah.”
Referring to the KSS statement, Al-Houthi added, “We also want to express our thanks and appreciation for the free and loyal people of Iraq, who declared their position of solidarity with the people of Yemen.”
‘Evidence’ of Iranian presence in Yemen mounting
In a press conference yesterday, Colonel Turki Al-Maliki, a spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition, claimed there is evidence of foreign military experts training the Houthis in Yemen. Al-Maliki went on to allege that there is a Hezbollah presence in northern Yemen, and that the Houthis have been trained on military communications.
The Saudi-led coalition and the Yemen government led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi have continuously accused Iran of funnelling weapons to the Houthis. The accusations followed the firing of ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia, posing a major threat to the Kingdom’s national security.
The conflict in Yemen escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a massive air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains. More than 15,000 Yemenis have been killed according to the UN and millions continue to suffer in what it has declared to be the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.