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How Yemen Fits Iran Plans for Mideast Rule, Beyond

02-12-2015
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WASHINGTON – The remaining Americans have been evacuated from the country of Yemen. The United States closed its embassy because of the violence after a radical Islamic rebellion in the country.

The news comes as Iran is expanding its influence in the Middle East while building a nuclear program that shows no signs of stopping.

Yemen is an important part of Iran's strategy.

When a radical Shiite Muslim group, called the Houthis, seized Yemen's capital city last year, it marked a dangerous phase for a country plagued by violent chaos.

Located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen is already home to an al Qaeda branch that has attempted several attacks against the United States and Europe.

The rise of the Houthis opens the door to yet another terrorist presence.

"You look at the fall of the government of Yemen, which was allied with the United States, helping us in our efforts to silence al Qaeda. And you see the Iranian Quds forces behind training and arming that effort," Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said.

Iran has long been suspected of backing the Houthis, whose official slogan sounds very familiar to that of Iran's government: "Death to America, death to Israel, damnation to the Jews."

Iran's support of the Houthis seems to point to a much a bigger goal.

"That was not a local issue. Yemen is a historical invasion route to Saudi Arabia. Yemen controls the very critical access of oil tankers from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea to the Mediterranean," former Israeli Ambassador Yoram Ettinger explained.

He said Yemen is an important piece in Iran's larger plan of regional domination.

"Iran is leveraging Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, in order to further destabilize the region, in order to destabilize pro-American Arab regimes," Ettinger said.

In addition to Lebanon and Gaza, Tehran is using allies to gain influence in Yemen, Syria, Hezbollah, and among Shiite leaders in Iraq. These moves leave Israel and another Iranian rival, Saudi Arabia, in unfriendly surroundings.

Ettinger said the ultimate target, however, is the United States.

"The Iranians are pursuing a very clear anti-American tactic and the reason is they consider the U.S. the major obstacle to attaining their major goal: namely, the domination of the Gulf," Ettinger told CBN News.

"No country in the world but the U.S. can stop Iran from taking over the Gulf and then the Muslim world," he said.

Iran is reportedly working to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles that could one day reach the United States.

Yet the Obama administration has not demanded that Iran give up this missile program as part of ongoing nuclear talks. If Iran acquires a nuclear bomb, it could eventually be mounted on such a missile.

"That ultimately is going to open up a Pandora's box of a whole new world situation that is going to very bad for the security of that whole region and ultimately, I think, the security of the entire world," Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, warned.

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