Supporters of the Shiite Houthi movement take part in a demonstration in Yemen’s capital Sanaa. (AFP)

By Saeed Al Abyadh

February 24, 2018

The year 2003 was a milestone in the march of coup Iran-driven Houthi militias. In that year, the Iranian ambassador to Yemen repeatedly visited the governorate of Sa’ada and met with leaders of the “Ansar Allah” movement, the same faction which later in 2014 led a nationwide insurgency.

The Iranian ambassador is thought to have given directives to militias, Houthis later on were signaled to spread and expand, taking over Sa’ada’s and establishing it as a militia fortress according to plan.

Houthis have been funded by two states, one of which is Arab, Yemeni officials told Asharq Al-Awsat.

A year later, the militias were quick to carry out their orders and began to implement large-scale land purchase, claiming centers in the city. That year, Iran was not the sole financier of the Houthis. Other countries, including Qatar, sent money covert means to Houthi leaders.

Some of the funds were pumped in the involvement of money laundering.

In light of the economic conditions that Yemen was living in 2004, the funds directly contributed to the expansion of Houthis’ sphere and the growth of their tightly controlled economy.

Houthis, after purchasing mass land areas, managed to establish institutions across to indoctrinate and equip loyalists in multiple provinces, especially in coastal areas.

Sa’ada governor Hadi Tarshan told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saada witnessed the Iranian ambassador’s redundant visits in 2003 and his meeting with Houthi leaders.

“Throughout this year, we have not seen a radical change in militia movements on the ground. However, by the beginning of 2004, we have begun to see the springing out of Houthi centers within the city, by the name of ‘Al Shabab Al mo’omen,’ (Arabic for the faithful youth),” Tarshan said.

The governor added that these centers began to spread until they reached the directorates of Sa’ada, and the establishment of these centers is conducted with high accuracy, as the militias built near government schools in various stages, and were dependent on the establishment of these centers in a modern style and large buildings, which contributed to attracting students.

Asharq Al-Awsat

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.