Yemen's Defense Ministry under attack (file)
Yemen's Defense Ministry under attack (file) Reuters

As in Lebanon via its proxy-terror group Hezbollah, Iran is expanding its grip over the strategically located state of Yemen via another proxy group, this time the Shi'ite terrorists known as the Houthis.

The terrorists, backed by both Iran and Hezbollah, have begun conquering vast swathes in the country since late September, most significantly in the capital city of Sana'a.

Houthis have taken over most of the state buildings in the city, including the governmental buildings, the parliament, the defense ministry, the air force building, the sixth military command region headquarters tasked with the Amran area north of Sana'a, and other important sites.

The conquest of the capital led to international flights being cancelled last Friday, and in the vacuum of power and chaos, Al Qaeda-linked terrorists took advantage of the situation to fire a rocket at the US Embassy in the city.

Sana'a's fall into the hands of the Houthis is predicted by many to mark the collapse of Yemen into several smaller states - indeed a large amount of the friction in the country stems from the 1994 civil war, in which the south attempted to split off again and once more form South Yemen, a communist state in existence from 1976 to 1990.

It also marks the further control of Iran over the country, which enjoys a strategically significant location controlling the Bab el-Mandeb Straits that reign over access to the Red Sea.

Why did Sana'a fall?

Yemenite security sources told Al Jazeera that Sana'a fell for several reasons, including the powerlessness of senior army commanders, orders to avoid confrontation, and bases being taken by the Houthis.

One of the senior commanders in the region claimed that the Houthis received aid from military bases that in the past were under the command of Ahmed Ali, the son of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh who was deposed in 2012.

It was claimed that Saleh supported pro-Iranian militias to eliminate his rivals in the Al-Islah party which took power, and which identify with the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood.

Other sources claimed that brigades stationed in Sana'a did not receive aid from the defense ministry, forcing them to retreat when pressed by the Houthis, and that captains view this fact as an act of treachery by Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed.

According to other reports, Ahmed proposed in a high security committee meeting that the Houthis be allowed into the southern Al Bayda and Marib governorates so that they could fight the local branch of Al Qaeda. Ahmed has survived several Al Qaeda assassination attempts, including one in May.

For their part, spokespeople for the Houthis have claimed that they coordinated their moves with senior sources in the defense ministry, and with regional and international sources.