Southern separatists seized most of the Port of Aden on August 10 and several surrounding military bases on August 13 from the internationally recognized Yemeni government. If the situation stands, an Iranian-backed terrorist state in the mountainous interior of northwestern Yemen could emerge with the motive and potential to shut down one of the world’s most important shipping lanes.
Yemen is located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East. It abuts one of the world’s most important shipping lanes, the Bab el-Mandeb. If the strait were attacked or shut down, trade vessels would have to reroute all the way around the southern tip of Africa, causing global oil prices to skyrocket.
Yemen was once two separates states: North Yemen and South Yemen. North Yemen was populated predominantly by Shiite Muslims, whereas South Yemen was predominantly Sunni. Sanaa was the capital of North Yemen, and Aden was the capital of South Yemen. The two states unified in 1990.
After the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels overthrew the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in 2015, civil war ensued, as did the north-south division.
After the Houthis ousted the Hadi government from power in the capital in Sanaa, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States formed a coalition to fight back. After four years of devastating war, however, the New York Times reported on July 11 that the u.a.e withdrew from the anti-Houthi coalition. The u.a.e was the “linchpin of the Saudi-led war in Yemen,” it wrote, providing funds, matériel and thousands of ground troops. According to Arab Weekly, without the Emirates’ support, “a return to a united Yemen is no longer possible.”
After the u.a.e left the coalition, the Southern Transitional Council also split from the Hadi government. The council was formed in 2005 by southern Yemenis hoping for a return to a separate North and South Yemen. While in the anti-Houthi coalition, the u.a.e was a staunch supporter of the Southern Transitional Council. By leaving the coalition, the u.a.e has, in essence, endorsed the separatists’ push to regain its independence as South Yemen. The Arab Times wrote, “The demonstrations of millions in Aden [by the southern secessionists] will continue until the southerners obtain their lost state.”
The fallout because Saudi Arabia and the u.a.e occurred because they have different interests in Yemen. The Saudi kingdom is involved because the Houthi rebels are a direct threat to its national security. France24 wrote that the Houthi rebels have targeted the Saudi kingdom with “numerous cross-border missile attacks” against many Saudi cities, including the capital, Riyadh. The u.a.e “appears more interested in securing its interests in the south, which lies along major trading routes linking Africa to Asia, than waging a war that appears increasingly unwinnable.”
Saudi Arabia had been trying to build an alliance in Yemen against the Houthis (and, by extension, Iran). Houthis remain entrenched in the nation’s capital and continue to attack Saudi Arabia with drones and missiles. (For more information, read “Iran’s Shadow War Against Saudi Arabia Heats Up” and “Houthi Missile Strikes Target 800 Miles Away.”)
In “The Looming Partition of Yemen,” Al Jazeera wrote, “The success of Yemen’s southern secessionists in taking over the city of Aden … has effectively undermined all efforts to restore legitimate authority to the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. … If not reversed, the takeover of Aden by southern secessionists may well be the final nail in the coffin of Yemen’s unity and territorial integrity.”
By leaving the coalition, the u.a.e has essentially guaranteed that Hadi’s government will fail to regain power and that Yemen will be partitioned three ways. Al Jazeera presents three possibilities:
First, today’s status quo may hold, allowing the Southern Transitional Council to maintain its control over Aden and its maritime facilities. …
Second, the Hadi government may be successful in holding on to areas in the interior, such as Taiz, Dhale, Lahj and others, which will effectively create two power spheres in the south. …
Third, the preoccupation of the Hadi government with the challenge the secessionists pose in the south may give the Houthis an opportunity to increase their military pressure on Saudi Arabia. … This most likely will result in the establishment of a Houthi-led state in northern Yemen and a vassal state supported by the u.a.e in the south ….
Yemen seems bound to be torn into three separate units: an Emirati-backed government along the southwestern coast, a Saudi-backed government in the southern interior, and an Iranian-backed militia government in the northwestern mountains.
Since no opposing force is willing or able to remove the Houthis from power, it may soon be accepted as a de facto state.
The Houthi movement is steadily being legitimatized. It has the domestic support of its people. In March, tens of thousands of Yemeni citizens gathered in Sanaa to rally in support of the Houthis. Although Iran has long denied its support of the Houthi movement, it now publicly endorses it.
As Saudi Arabia’s anti-Houthi alliance appears to be dissolving, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Seyyed Khamenei has pledged Iran’s continued support for Houthi leaders. Iranian state tv on August 13 quoted Khamenei saying, “I declare my support for the resistance of Yemen’s believing men and women …. Yemen’s people … will establish a strong government.”
Khamenei made this statement following Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif’s meeting with Houthi Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel Salam Felita, when the Houthi rebels were assigned a new terrorist mission in the Red Sea.
World’s Most Dangerous Shipping Lane
Yemen borders the Bab el-Mandeb, which National Interest calls the world’s most dangerous shipping lane. Roughly 4.8 million barrels of crude oil and other petroleum products passed through the strait per day in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. More than half of that trade sailed north into the Mediterranean Sea toward Europe and North America.
If Iran were to threaten the shipping lane, trade vessels would have to reroute around the southern tip of Africa. This delay would increase the sailing time from the Persian Gulf to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, for example, by 78 percent. It would triple the sailing time from the Gulf to Italy, which imported 19.7 percent of its crude oil from Iraq in 2016. These delays would raise prices and restrict supply, causing severe problems for the global economy, especially Europe.
This is why Iran has consistently supported the Houthi rebels and why the creation of a Houthi state will benefit the Islamic Republic. By establishing the Houthis in Yemen and supplying them with ballistic missiles, Iran is slowly gaining the power to threaten the Bab el-Mandeb.
Houthi missile strikes have already proved to be extremely effective and accurate against Saudi and Hadi’s forces. What if Houthis used a missile arsenal to target trading vessels traversing the Bab el-Mandeb and Red Sea?
Iran has already given its newest and most accurate model of the Fateh-110 to its Shiite militias in Iraq. What if that missile ended up in the hands of the Houthi rebels? The Fateh-110 class missiles were designed to target ships. When the class was first released, Iranian tv played a propaganda video simulating a strike on a U.S. warship. The missile has since been upgraded with “active seeker” technology to help it better detect ships at sea. In August 2018, Iran claimed it successfully tested one of these missiles against a ship.
After Houthi militia fighters struck two giant oil tankers in July 2018, Saudi Arabia temporarily suspended all of its oil shipments through the Bab el-Mandeb. The Houthis have proved they are willing to attack oil tankers, and Bible prophecy indicates that they will do so again in a much more significant way.
Iran’s Stranglehold on Trade
In Libya and Ethiopia in Prophecy, Watch Jerusalem editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes, “Yemen is already infested with terrorists. It is located on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden—and is another strategically powerful country if you are trying to control world trade.” This is Iran’s goal.
In his free booklet The King of the South, Mr. Flurry writes about Iran’s strategy to dominate the Middle East by sponsoring terrorism through various proxy groups. Notice this statement about Iran’s control in Yemen:
But what if you have radical Islamic nations along this sea trade route with real airpower—including missiles? That could give Iran virtual control of the trade through those seas. Radical Islam could stop the flow of essential oil to the U.S. and Europe!
Watch Jerusalem tracks this development because it aligns with Bible prophecy.
The book of Daniel discusses “the king of the south,” a major world power in “the time of the end.” Since the early 1990s, Mr. Flurry has identified the king of the south as radical Islam, led by Iran. (Request your free copy of The King of the South for proof.)
“And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him …” (Daniel 11:40). Mr. Flurry writes, “[Iran] is always pushy in its foreign policy. It pushes until it starts a war.”
In “Iran Gets a Stranglehold on the Middle East,” Mr. Flurry wrote: “The Houthis’ takeover of Yemen was not just a grassroots revolution. It was a part of a deliberate and calculated Iranian strategy to conquer the Red Sea.”
Iran is pushing, in part, by threatening maritime passageways like the Bab el-Mandeb. This prophecy states that Iran will push against a German-led united Europe. France, Italy, Japan, China and America all have forces 30 kilometers from Yemen on the other side of the Bab el-Mandeb for the specific purpose of protecting trading vessels traversing the Bab el-Mandeb and the Red Sea. Despite this, Bible prophecy says Iran will gain control of this crucial waterway!
Daniel 11:43 says, “But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.” This means Iran will gain some form of control over Ethiopia, Egypt and Libya. These three nations are the key that reveal Iran’s strategy to control this crucial shipping lane from the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea to the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.
Mr. Flurry continued: “Now that Iran controls Yemen, it can virtually close or open this spigot on Middle East oil bound for Europe.”
In April, Watch Jerusalem wrote: “As the war in Yemen rages on, continue to watch for the Houthis to become more entrenched in Yemen, providing Iran a launching pad to impact global trade. The Houthis appear to be there to stay.” This appears to be even more true now after the withdrawal of the u.a.e. from the anti-Houthi coalition and its apparent collapse.
Continue to watch events in Yemen as the world may soon accept a de facto Houthi state—a giant leap toward the dramatic fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
For more information about Iran’s desire to control Yemen and the Red Sea, request your free copy of Libya and Ethiopia in Prophecy, by Gerald Flurry.