Embers Of Khomeini's Fire: After Tehran Has Lost Its Influence In Iraq, Syria And The Gaza Strip
01 November 2014
By Mshari Al-Zaydi
What is happening in Yemen represents as great a
threat, if not more so, than what is happening in Iraq
and Syria, at least in the eyes of the Gulf states and
particularly Saudi Arabia.
The Houthis represent a greater strategic threat to
Saudi Arabia and Arabs, particularly if we view them
as part of a larger Iranian project that is
threatening the region.
There is no hidden backer behind Al-Qaeda and its
various franchises or the Islamic State of Iraq and
Syria (ISIS); there is no foreign state—with a state's
capabilities and strengths—backing either of these two
groups. As for the Houthis, they are embers of the
Persian Khomeinist fire.
Today, Houthis are fighting in the capital Sana'a and
spreading chaos across Yemen, seeking to extort the
Yemeni government and President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
The Houthis' objective is clear, namely to impose
their demands on the state. The Houthis are trying to
hijack Yemen's fate on the pretext of protesting the
government's fuel subsidy cut, but this is nothing
more than opportunism.
UN Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, recently
left Saada, the Houthi stronghold, to return to Sana'a
without reaching an agreement with the Houthis, who
are now threatening the residents of the capital.
According to media reports, the Houthis have a number
of demands to end the violence, including full control
of the port of Midi. This has been a longstanding
target for the Houthis, and the reason behind this is
clear, namely to create a statelet within Yemen, in
the same manner that Hezbollah has sought to create a
mini-state in Lebanon.
This Shi'ite emirate on the southern borders of Saudi
Arabia represents an Iranian threat to Saudi Arabia,
particularly after Tehran has lost its influence in
Iraq, Syria and the Gaza Strip.
When we say that a Houthi gunman is akin to a solider
in Khomeini's army, we are saying this backed up by
evidence. As for Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, he accused
Saudi Arabia—in comments on June 12, 2008 to Yemen's
Al-Nida newspaper—of carrying out violence against
Yemenis on American orders.
Zaydism, the form of Shi'ism practiced by the Houthis,
has always been a subject of controversy. A Zaydi
himself, scholar Mohamed Bin Ismail Al-Sanani said
that Zaydism does not have a coherent doctrine that is
committed to a specific ideology or its own history.
He described Zaydism as a doctrine that is open to
development and enrichment. Zaydism has been able to
encompass Salafist scholar Imam Al-Shawkani, as well
as Imam Abdullah Bin Hamzah (d. 1236 CE), who
committed a massacre of some of his own followers
simply because they said it was not required that the
Imam of the group be a descendant of Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn,
the Prophet's grandsons.
Hussein Al-Houthi, the founder of the modern Houthi
movement—an almost sacred figure to his followers, who
was killed in 2004—went through a number of
transformations, from the ruling General People's
Congress to the peripheries of the Khomeinist trend.
His Khomeinist tendencies were brought to the fore in
a book he wrote on Qur'anic exegesis. In the book,
Houthi talks about Sunni defeats throughout history,
which he traces to their refusal to pledge allegiance
to the Prophet's son-in-law and cousin, Ali Ibn Abi
Talib, adding that it would be "foolish for us [the
Houthis] to follow them." In the same section he
devotes whole passages to the figure of Khomeini,
extolling his "divine character and standards."
Yemen doesn't need eulogies; it needs us to call a
spade a spade.
A Saudi journalist and expert
on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism as
well as Saudi affairs. Mshari is Asharq Al-Awsat's
opinion page Editor, where he also contributes a
weekly column. Has worked for the local Saudi press
occupying several posts at Al -Madina newspaper
amongst others. He has been a guest on numerous news
and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic