The Hamas-Houthi alliance also shows that Iran is seeking to expand the terrorist activities of its agents in the Gaza Strip, Yemen and Lebanon not only against Israel and the US, but against Arab and Islamic states as well. Pictured: Houthi gunmen brandish their weapons in Sanaa, Yemen on July 7, 2020. (Photo by Mohammed Huwais/AFP via Getty Images)
Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip, is seeking to forge an alliance with the Iran-aligned Yemini Houthi movement, officially called Ansar Allah (Supporters of God), whose members have launched repeated missile and drone attacks against Saudi Arabia for the past few years.
The Hamas-Houthi partnership does not come as a surprise to Arabs and Muslims. The two groups share a common goal: Eliminating Israel.
These Arabs and Muslims are worried, however, that the Hamas-Houthi alliance will not stop there, but also strengthen an Iran-led axis to threaten the stability of Arab countries.
The slogan of the Houthi movement reads: "Allah is greater, Death to America, Death to Israel, curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam."
In its charter, Hamas states that the "land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day" and "there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad [holy war]."
Last week, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh sent a letter to the Houthi leadership in which he thanked the Yemeni group for supporting the Palestinian people and their cause:
"We appreciate the role of the Yemenis in supporting the Palestinian cause and urge the free people of the world to stand against the Zionist entity's (Israel's) escalation against the Palestinian people."
Before sending the letter to the Houthi leadership, Haniyeh called on Arabs and Muslims "to build a strategic partnership with the Palestinian people and their national and Islamic factions in order to confront Israeli schemes."
This strategy, Haniyeh explained, is based on three main and important tracks:
"The first is Palestinian unity, the second is comprehensive resistance in all its forms, and the third is building in the region a solid Arab and Islamic bloc that supports the Palestinians."
When Hamas talks about a "comprehensive resistance," it is referring to the use of various anti-Israel terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, shootings, stabbings and rockets.
Haniyeh's letter to the Houthi leadership is clearly part of Hamas's effort to enlist the Yemeni group for attacks on Israel.
Hamas seems to be hoping that its alliance with the Houthi movement might stop some Arab countries from normalizing their relations with Israel.
Hamas's leaders have repeatedly expressed deep concern over the apparent rapprochement between some Gulf states and Israel. Recently, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem accused the United Arab Emirates of "promoting and encouraging" normalization with Israel and claimed that such efforts would "only serve the Zionist project."
Some Arabs are now voicing extreme unease over the cooperation between Hamas and the Houthi movement. They say it would strengthen Iran's terrorist proxies and cause a further deterioration of the situation in war-torn Yemen.
For more than five years, Yemen, the southern region of the Arabian Peninsula, has been embroiled in a civil war that has resulted in one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world; 80% of the population are in need of humanitarian aid. Since 2015, an Arab coalition led by the Saudi Arabia has carried out military operations in Yemen, in support of government forces against the Houthi militias, who control large parts of Yemen. Iran, using the Houthis as proxies, has been trying to take over control of Yemen in the same way that Iran's proxy, Hezbollah, now controls Lebanon. The Saudis have been trying to defend themselves against Iran's attempts to expand its control into Yemen and from there throughout the entire Peninsula.
According to the Yemen-based Al-Mashhad Al-Araby news website (July 13, 2020):
"Many analysts were not surprised [by the Hamas letter to the Houthi movement], which confirms that there are regional parties working on rapprochement between Islamist groups, including the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood organization and the militias supported by Iran in the Arab region headed by the terrorist Houthi militia and Hezbollah in Lebanon, in addition to Shiite militias in Iraq."
Even some Palestinians have expressed concern over the Hamas-Houthi alliance. They argue that Hamas should not be meddling in the internal affairs of any Arab country in order to appease Hamas's master in Tehran. Mainly, some Palestinians seem worried that the emerging alliance would further damage Palestinian relations with the Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, where the public appears to be largely indifferent to the Palestinian issue.
"Haniyeh's message to the Houthis is wrong," prominent Palestinian political analyst Yasser Al-Za'atara commented.
"The Houthis are criminals and those who support them are causing harm to themselves and the Yemeni people. This shows that Iran is now demanding a direct price for its support [for Hamas]. Hamas is forced to pay the price because Tehran is facing a deep crisis [as a result of US and international sanctions]. Hamas, in turn, is in urgent need of support as the Arab siege against it is intensifying."
The "price" Iran is demanding for its financial and military aid is that Hamas remain a loyal proxy and carry out all instructions it receives from Tehran, including meddling in the internal affairs of Arab states and launching terrorist attacks against Israel.
Shortly after receiving the letter from Haniyeh, Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim, the Houthi movement's head of the so-called "intelligence and reconnaissance agency," announced that it "has vital and important targets in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Tel Aviv, based on intelligence information" that would be used to attack those three countries.
For the first time, the Houthi movement spoke of possessing information about "vital targets." The announcement is a clear indication that the two Iranian-backed groups, Hamas and the Houthi movement, are planning to launch terrorist attacks not only against Israel, but also against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The Houthi movement is saying that it will do its utmost to help Hamas destroy Israel.
"We in Ansar Allah are with you until the liberation of every inch of the land of Palestine," said Hassan al-Hamran, head of the Houthi movement's "Palestinian Portfolio" said during a July 16 meeting in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a with representatives of several Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The meeting was held to discuss ways of preventing Israel from applying its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, and of thwarting attempts by some Arabs to engage in normalization activities with Israel.
Some Saudi and Emirati political activists and columnists also believe that the Hamas-Houthi cooperation will further destabilize the security situation in the Middle East.
Yaqoub al-Rayssi, a political activist in the United Arab Emirates, commented:
"Hamas is thanking the Houthis for supporting Palestine! For the Muslim Brotherhood traitors [Hamas], supporting Palestine means firing missiles at Saudi Arabia."
"Hamas has apparently lost its mind by sending a message to the Houthis thanking them for their support for the Palestinian cause," Mohammed al-Abdah, a Syrian-born member of the Muslim Scholars Association, wrote on his Twitter account. "The Houthis have destroyed an ancient Arab country; do they deserve to be thanked?
Several Yemeni political activists also denounced the Hamas-Houthi alliance.
"Ismail Haniyeh's letter to the Houthi leadership is a painful blow to the Yemeni people, who for decades have been supporting the Palestinians' cause," lamented Yemeni activist Mohammed Al-Dhabyani.
Prominent Lebanese political analyst and journalist Khairallah Khairallah launched a scathing attack on Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and said it does not really care about the Palestinians.
"The (Muslim) Brotherhood does not care about the consequences of its actions and practices," Khairallah wrote.
"All they want is power. This is evidenced by the extent of the damage that has been caused to the Palestinian cause since the establishment of Hamas in 1987. On the way to seizing control over the Gaza Strip [in 2007], Hamas eliminated the Palestinian national project."
He also accused Hamas of "perpetuating" divisions among the Palestinians and exposing the Palestinians' inability to "manage a state in a civilized way." Khairallah pointed out that when Hamas violently and brutally seized control of the Gaza Strip, its men "threw members of Fatah from the roofs of buildings."
"Hamas is doing everything it can to perpetuate the internal division and keep Gaza a prison for its people. The Palestinians deserve much better than Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. What is the use of launching rockets toward Israel after its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August 2005?"
By seeking to enlist the Houthi movement for its jihad against Israel, Hamas is sending a message that it is prepared to cooperate with any group to achieve its goal of destroying Israel and replacing it with an Islamic state.
The Hamas-Houthi alliance also shows that Iran is seeking to expand the terrorist activities of its agents in the Gaza Strip, Yemen and Lebanon not only against Israel and the US, but against Arab and Islamic states as well.
Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.