Is Saudi Arabia arming militants in Yemen? The New York Times reports:
The leader of the Houthi rebel group here, in an unusually combative speech Thursday that reflected frustration by the rebel movement at its deepening isolation, accused Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s powerful neighbor, of financing armed opponents and trying to divide the country.
The Houthis control the capital, Sana, in northern Yemen, and much of the nation’s military. Yet their authority faces a sharp challenge from Yemen’s former president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled to the southern city of Aden on Saturday and, with the backing of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies, declared that he was still the country’s legitimate leader. […]
The Houthis, northern tribesmen who belong to the minority Zaydi Shiite sect, have received backing from Iran. Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states, who see Iran as a dangerous rival, have been accused of supporting anti-Houthi factions.
The situation in Yemen is more than just a simple proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), an enemy of both the Houthis and the Saudis (not to mention the West), complicates the mix. But the Saudis are very, very nervous right now. They’ve seen the Iranians advance on all fronts recently, while their biggest traditional ally, the U.S., has done little.
Riyadh is unlikely to exercise as much “strategic patience” as the U.S. in the face of a situation that is undoubtedly much more alarming if you live next door.