Revolutionary process in Yemen that begun in February 2011 ended up with the Houthi movement’s (that is also called Ansarollah) takeover of Sanaa, the capital city, on September 21, 2014. The takeover has drawn attention to Houthis’ ties with Iran and unleashed a debate on whether the Houthi movement is a new proxy of Tehran. Likewise, subsequent military intervention of Saudi-led international coalition to reverse the Houthis march to power is also discussed within the framework of a proxy war between Riyad and Tehran. However, the frame of proxy relationship leads to the underestimation of multi-layered, intersected confrontations among a multitude of actors, and changing characteristics of the protracted conflict. Indeed, the conflict in Yemen has evolved from the Houthi uprising to a prolonged civil war that drew leading regional powers and had regional ramifications. The Houthis also turned from local insurgents to national actors, and to virtually regional players. Unfolding of the Yemeni conflict from a local insurgency to a protractive regional conflict has also transformed the Houthis’ relations with Tehran. This article aimed at elaborating the Houthis’ changing relations with Iran over the course of time. It is argued that initially there was a distant relationship between the Houthis and Iran, which evolved in two decades into a close relationship of “brothers in arms”.
Keywords: Ansarollah, Iran, Revolutionary Guards, Yemen, Zaydi