If Yemen's Houthi militia is not stopped, they will become the next Hezbollah, "deployed by Iran to threaten the people in the region and beyond," the exiled president of Yemen said in an opinion piece in The New York Times this week.
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"My country, Yemen, is under siege by radical Houthi militia forces whose campaign of horror and destruction is fueled by the political and military support of an Iranian regime obsessed with regional domination," wrote Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi in the article Sunday (published Monday in the paper's international edition). "There is no question that the chaos in Yemen has been driven by Iran's hunger for power and its ambition to control the entire region."
Houthi control of Yemen would endanger the oil shipments through the Red Sea and allow Al-Qaida and other extremist groups to flourish, wrote Hadi. The Houthis, who are Shi'ite rebels, already control the capital, Sanaa, and much of northern Yemen.
The rebels were engaged in clashes Sunday with Hadi loyalists for the oil-producing eastern province of Mareb, news agencies reported.
Also this week, Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition of Arab countries to fight the Houthis, rejected calls by Tehran to end airstrikes on the rebels that began more than two weeks ago. "We came to Yemen to help the legitimate authority, and Iran is not in charge of Yemen," said Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.
Hadi said he would urge the Saudi-led coalition to continue its military campaign if the Houthis "do not withdraw and disarm their militia and rejoin the political dialogue."
"The message they are sending is clear," wrote the exiled president. "Iran cannot continue expanding at the expense of the integrity and security of other countries in the region."
Hadi also called for continued international support, both to "ensure military might on the battlefield" and to help Yemeni civil institution once the fighting ends.
"Having a hostile government in a nation bordering the Bab al-Mandeb strait — the highly trafficked shipping lane leading to the Suez Canal — is in no nation’s interest," he wrote.