Arab commentators in the Gulf have warned in recent years about this Iranian push.
For example, economic analyst Muhammad Abduh al-Absi said in an interview to that Iran has long been trying to take over the sea lanes surrounding the Arab world.
It commands the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf (through which five million barrels of oil pass daily) and now is trying to seize the Bab el-Mandeb Strait (through which three million barrels of oil pass daily), which forms a key conduit of trade for all the states along the Red Sea.
This conflict, which has already gone on for over 10 years, stems from feelings of political, economic, and social discrimination among the Zaidi Shia residents of Yemen’s north.
The Houthis constitute about 30 percent of Yemen’s population, which totals over 25 million people.
The Zaidi Shia are considered one of the moderate Shia schools, closer from a legal standpoint to the Shafi’i school of the Sunna.
At the same time, since the Islamic Revolution in Iran and all the more so in recent years with growing Iranian subversive activity in Yemen, the Zaidi Shia have been increasingly exposed to the ideological influence and political agenda of the regime in Iran, leading to a change in the usually moderate attitudes of the Zaidi Shia.
Yemen’s geostrategic location at the entrance to the Red Sea and across from the Horn of Africa, along with the inherent weakness of the central regime, has made it an attractive target for subversion by external power centers, both political and nonpolitical.
That pertains particularly to Iran and Saudi Arabia, with Al Qaeda as another disruptive element.
(Houthi’s military wing) were able to exploit the weakness of Yemen’s central government, which is also engaged in a struggle with the Sunni Al Qaeda and with tribal and separatist elements in the southern part of the country.
Ansar Allah took over on September 21 the capital city of Sana’a and the Al-Hudaydah port (150 kilometers southwest of Sana’a) on the Red Sea, Yemen’s second most important port after Aden almost without resistance by the security forces and the Yemeni army.
The Houthi forces’ entry into the capital was accompanied by calls of “Death to America” and “Death to the Jews,” imprecations heard frequently from the Iranian regime.
Battles are also being waged in Yemen between Ansar Allah and , which is affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) and has had difficulty coming to terms with the recent Shia successes in Yemen.
The Houthi Shia rebels, having conquered Sana’a and Al-Hudaydah, are now concentrating their efforts on a further conquest of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.