Senior Houthi Ansar Allah Movement Officials Call U.S., British Forces In South Yemen Legitimate Targets; Threaten To Attack Indiscriminately

September 4, 2023


During late August and early September 2023, senior officials of the Yemen’s Iran-backed Ansar Allah Movement (the Houthis) renewed their threats against foreign forces, principally the American and British forces in the Red Sea and in southern Yemen. These officials declared that the foreign forces constitute legitimate targets that may be attacked at any time. Furthermore, they threatened to attack Saudi Arabia as well, should the current negotiations with that country lead to an impasse. The threats came in response to an August 29, 2023 report in the Houthi media about the arrival of American forces to the Hadhramaut region, which is controlled by the internationally recognized Yemen government. According to that report, the U.S. is working to establish “presence and dominance” in Yemen’s southern provinces, to “plunder” Yemen’s oil and gas resources and obstruct the ongoing peace negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.[1] Similar threats were heard in early August following a statement issued by the United States Navy Fifth Fleet that it had sent more than 3,000 soldiers to the region of the Middle East and the Red Sea.[2]

The following is a review of recent Houthi threats against the American and British presence in the Yemeni region:

Supreme Commander Of Houthi Armed Forces: U.S. And Britain Should Stop Sending Troops To Yemen; Houthi Leader Has Light Finger On Trigger

During a gathering of local Houhi officials that was held on August 30 in the 'Amran Governorate, in western Yemen, Mahdi Al-Mashat, chairman of the Houthi Ansar Allah Movement's Political Council and the Supreme Commander of the Houthi armed forces, referred to “reports about the landing of U.S. Marines and British forces in the occupied governorates” saying, “I warn them not to continue to do this, I warn them. Yemen is a red line. Yemen has drones, medium- and long-range rockets, and it has a leader whose finger is light on the trigger.”

In addition, Al-Mashat revealed that his forces had conducted a rocket trial early that week in the Red Sea, which, he claimed, “confused” a nearby American warship. He stated, “Our rocket unit conducted a trial using the best rocket technology which we have acquired. This trial embarrassed… the forces in the Red Sea… the ship the Indiana Polis LCS 17 [USS Indianapolis (LCS-17)] which sailed in the Red Sea.” Referring to the trial, Al-Mashat explained that it was a trial that “we promised some time ago and you will hear much more than that with the help of Allah.”

The Supreme Commander of the Houthi armed forces was referring to remarks he made during a military parade held by Houthi forces in the Aden area in late June 2023, when he announced that they possessed a high-quality weapon “that will be used in the next battle, will be unveiled in the coming days, [and] will force the enemy to stop its schemes.”[3]

Al-Mashat further claimed that in recent days a “war” had been waged with a merchant ship that arrived in Aden “in order to plunder Yemeni gas,” and that several times the Houthi forces had compelled two ships to move away from the area and warned their owners that they were “fully prepared to attack them if they came in to steal the gas from the Port of Aden.”

During the gathering the Supreme Commander related to a five-year plan conceived by the U.S. Embassy in Yemen and claimed that one of its objectives was to recruit collaborators through civil society organizations and to sow chaos in Yemeni society.[4]

He also directed threats at Saudi Arabia, the head of the Arab Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, which the Houthis refer to as the “coalition of aggression.” In other remarks he made during a visit to Sa’dah Al-Mashat said, “Today we are waging a harsh war on all fronts against 19 countries and against the most despicable aggression in history… The enemy should know that if the major problems are not solved, then the solution will be the payloads of the rockets and the drones.”[5]

Senior Houthi Officials: Foreign Forces Are Legitimate Targets; They May Be Attacked At Any Time

Houthi Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Al-Ezzi repeated Al-Mashat’s threats and on September 1 he tweeted that, “The presence of a foreign force (American or any other) in any part of Yemen constitutes a serious threat to all of Yemen and the region. These barbaric forces grant the great Yemeni people the full right to attack them indiscriminately. They may be attacked at any time. (They will be very lucky to escape alive).[6]

Commanders in the Houthi armed forces also reiterated Al-Mashat’s threats. For instance, the commander of the Al-Wahbi Brigades, Major General Bakil Salih bin Salih Al-Wahabi, said that the presence of the American forces in the western governorates and nearby Yemen’s territorial waters would be met with a strong Yemeni response. “Any presence of the foreign forces in any part of Yemen will be a legitimate target for the armed forces at any time. The Yemeni forces are fully prepared to carry out the instructions of the revolutionary and military command to land a harsh blow on the invading forces – on land, on sea, and in the air.”

He also directed threats toward Saudi Arabia and said that “the insistence of the countries of the coalition of aggression to steer the negotiations to an impasse will force the Yemeni government and army to restore the people’s rights by force… Saudi Arabia will not enjoy security and stability as long as the Yemeni people suffer the consequences of the war, the siege, and the cessation of the payment of salaries (to government employees). There will be harsh consequences for the coalition of aggression due to the impasse in the negotiations regarding the payment of salaries.”[7]

On August 31, the Houthi-affiliated Yemen Union of Clerics published a statement in which it asserted that it is completely opposed to the American presence on Yemeni soil, in its territorial waters, and on the Yemeni islands. The statement called on all the people in all the governorates of Yemen to act to banish the American presence which it described as a “categorical occupation.” The union praised the “military achievement” and the rocket trial in the Red Sea.[8]


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