Yemen's Houthi rebel leader praises Lebanese Hizballah 'master fighters'

Yemen's Houthi rebel leader praises Lebanese Hizballah 'master fighters'
2 min read
16 May, 2016
Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi has praised Lebanon's militant group Hizballah as the "masters of fighters" in the Islamic world.
Hizballah has been accused of providing support for the Houthi rebels [AFP]

Hizballah are the “masters of Mujahideen (holy fighters) in this world”, Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi said, as the rebel group continued to breach a UN-brokered ceasefire on several fronts in Yemen.

In a letter sent to offer condolences to the leader of the Lebanese group on the recent passing of senior commander, Mustafa Badreddine who was killed in an explosion while on a mission in Syria, al-Houthi praised Hizballah as the “finest contemporary (military) formation on the battlefield today”.

“We (Houthis and Hizballah) are in the same trench, facing the same tyrannical and arrogant forces in a battle under the same banner,” he said, adding that Hizballah has “saved the face of the (Muslim) nation”.

But both Hizballah and the Houthis have lost credibility among many in the Arab street since the groups began militarily engaging in conflicts in the region.

In Yemen, Houthis were once involved in nation-wide protests against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and were the driving force behind demonstrations to pressure the government into implementing revolutionary demands.

However sympathy for the rebel group dropped when Houthi fighters stormed into government buildings in the Yemeni capital in September 2014; seizing complete control of the state in what many analysts described as a coup.

Both Hizballah and the Houthis have lost credibility among many in the Arab street since the groups began militarily engaging in conflicts in the region

Likewise, Hizballah, previously revered as a Lebanese resistance party facing Israel on the battlefield, has itself faced fierce criticism over its support for the embattled Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

In late February, a video which appears to show a Hizballah operative training Yemeni rebels to carry out suicide attacks in Saudi Arabia was released by the kingdom.

Saudi officials gave the footage to Riyadh-supporting domestic media, and said it showed a Hizballah member named Abu Saleh al-Libnani sitting in a tent teaching military tactics to Houthi rebels last summer.

The New Arab could not independently verify the content of the video or the identity of the man named as Abu Saleh.

Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen, has long accused Hizballah and the kingdom's regional rival, Iran, of funding the rebels in Yemen and providing them with military weapons.

Both Iran and Hizballah reject accusations they have provided military aid to the Houthis.