Iranian-backed Shi’ite Houthi rebels’ are on the verge of a coup in Yemen as Sunni rivals within the country and regionally seem to be helpless to stop it.
Regional Sunni countries are distracted by more pressing instability in their own countries and of the threat from Islamic State and other radical groups. The West also has been focused on Islamic State and its coordinated action in Syria and Iraq, seeing Yemen as a side show.
Demonstrating the shock of Yemen’s Sunni Gulf neighbors, the editorial in the UAE Gulf News on Tuesday was titled, “GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] must intervene now to save Yemen.”
“Al Houthis already control 14 provinces out of 21,” noted the article, adding that “the GCC cannot watch idly while the Iran-allied Al Houthis terrorize a neighboring country and flex their muscles in a region already riddled with conflicts.”
If the Houthis are able to solidify control over the southernmost country on the Arabian Peninsula, which lying on the Red Sea is Israel’s outlet from its southern port in Eilat, it could create a risk for Israel and other countries’ sea traffic.
Displayed across Sanaa, the group's slogan "Death to America, Death to Israel" was modeled on Iran's revolutionary motto, and many Yemenis drew parallels between the Houthis and another of Iran's Shi'ite proteges - Lebanon's Hezbollah.