The Yemeni Houthis, whose bases in Yemen were attacked by the US and Britain on Thursday night after months of attacks on Western ships in the Red Sea, are part of the Tehran-backed militia alliance: movements involved in serious local challenges but ready to take action with regional and even global crises when we think about the impact on the Red Sea. At the same time, the movement has its own autonomous line and it would be a mistake to classify it as a simple tool in the hands of the ayatollahs. Shiite militants are fighting a disjointed Sunni coalition of Saudi and Emirati “government forces” in Yemen. Each component has its own agenda, a framework that accommodates the remnants of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, one of Osama bin Laden's favorite components.
The civil war, which cost enormous civilian casualties, provided an opportunity to experiment with weapons. With Iran's essential help, the Houthis have defied their opponents by inflicting defeats on them. Over time, they have built up an arsenal of respect thanks to the help of the Pasdaran. In recent years they have successfully attacked Arabia and the Emirates, breaching supposedly sophisticated defenses and damaging oil installations with “deep” weapons, from drones to missiles.
The fighters have the Toophan, a copy of the Iranian Ghadr, an aircraft carrier with a range of 1,300 to 1,950 kilometers that can cover part of Israeli territory. For distances of up to 700 kilometers, other systems are used, old and new models, supplemented by modifications suggested by the Iranians. Unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with explosive charges help saturate the enemy shield and have often been successful. In fact, Tehran used their experience to improve vehicles sold to Russia, which participated in the invasion of Ukraine. Another sign of welding work in a war zone.
The Houthis also have anti-ship missiles that can strike targets up to 300 kilometers away and probably even further, using Chinese-developed systems. There are large stocks of sea, floating and ground mines manufactured locally and possibly supplied to external suppliers. They are useful equipment if you want to hinder transit on a busy and narrow route like the Red Sea. In addition to conventional tactics, there are surprises: They have built and deployed radio-controlled explosive boats, a threat to cargo or oil tankers that are now also vulnerable to drone attacks. Modus operandi in the name of tradition. In October 2000, the Qaedists successfully attacked the US Navy unit the Cole, causing the deaths of 17 sailors. Action with a hull led by a suicide bomber. Alarming example of terror at sea.