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Nothing New In The Iranian Role: Tehran Regime Intervention

16 November 2009

By Elias Harfoush

Iran has revealed the role that it plays in supporting the Houthi rebellion in Yemen, via statements made by its foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, when he said that he is ready to cooperate with Yemen to restore its security! How can Iran achieve security in Yemen, and who can it pressure in order to achieve this, if it is not connected with the Houthi movement, as it claims?

The same role was revealed by the regime in Tehran in the recent parliamentary elections in Lebanon. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei did not hesitate at the time to assure that Iran would “defeat America in Lebanon.” It is an excellent and noble goal, and easy to achieve thus. But how can the Iranian regime defeat “the Great Satan” in Lebanon, with the “Lebanese” party concerned with achieving this defeat denying night and day that it is not tasked with achieving Iranian desires? How can the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, believe that the victory of Hizbullah and its allies in these elections, as he hoped, would change the face of the region, if this party were not the one responsible for achieving the program of “change” that serves Iranian interests?

The Yemeni government hesitated before accusing Tehran of direct involvement in supporting the Houthis. It said first that the rebels were obtaining support from “Iranian parties,” without accusing the Tehran regime of direct involvement. However, the Houthis’ incursion into Saudi Arabia and their strike against the Saudi armed forces, which did their duty in restoring Saudi sovereignty over its land, prompted the Iranian regime to reveal its true role in supporting the Houthi rebellion from the outset. Thus, the Iranian foreign minister believes that the Saudi forces’ defense of its territory is considered “intervention in Yemen’s domestic affairs.” Saudi officials, however, have repeatedly affirmed that the conflict is within Yemen, and is in their view an internal matter. It would have been better for Iran to take the same position and let the conflict remain a domestic one, between the government in Sanaa and those it believes are rebelling against its authority. Is this not what was said by the secretary general of Hizbullah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, in his recent speech, that there was a “fire” (as he said) in the north of Yemen, “which some are trying to give a sectarian cast, and it is not thus, because it has a political character.” Fine. Who gave this conflict a sectarian cast? Would it not have been better to leave politicians and those responsible for Yemeni affairs to solve it, since the conflict is a domestic one? Isn’t true intervention in the affairs of Yemen and the region represented by the covert threat by Manouchehr Mottaki to Saudi Arabia, when he said “the smoke that is coming from the killing will reach it too”?

The Iranian role in Yemen is not new or surprising for those who follow the Tehran regime’s behavior in the region. It used to be said that the Shah of Iran wanted to play the role of “the policeman of the Gulf.” What can be said today about the role of the current Tehran regime, which wastes no opportunity to cause trouble with the neighboring countries of the Gulf, and the entire region? If Iran says that it supports the resistance in Lebanon and Hizbullah in the face of Israel, what is the justification for its intervention in Yemeni affairs by supporting the Houthi rebellion, if the sectarian impulse isn’t the only justification of this intervention?

This support has become the quickest road to dismantling the countries of the region and planting the seeds of internal strife in them, from Lebanon to Iraq, and in some countries of the Gulf…. and now, in Yemen. The Shiites have always been a central part of the fabric of this region. Thus was their past, and their future. However, when the Iranian regime turned them into mere “bases” for the extension of its regional influence, they were not serving them as much as providing opportunities for their insulation within a closed circle that cuts them off from their surrounding environment, and puts them in the position of being accused of following policies that do not serve the country whose nationality they hold, or the surrounding environment in which they live.



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