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The Iranian and Houthi War against Saudi Arabia

Authors and Affiliations: Seth G. Jones (Director, International Security Program), Jared Thompson (Research Associate, Transnational Threats Project), Danielle Ngo (Military Fellow, International Security Program), Brian McSorley (Military Fellow, International Security Program), Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. (Senior Fellow for Imagery Analysis, iDeas Lab and Korea Chair)

Organization/Publisher: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Date/Place: December 21, 2021/ Washington DC, USA

Type of Literature: CSIS Briefs

Number of Pages: 16 



Keywords: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Houthies, and Yemen


The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen was initiated in 2015 to contain the emerging threat of Iranian-backed Houthis. Houthis took control of key parts of Yemen after the chaotic disruption of governance because of the Arab Spring in the Middle East. The Iranian Al-Quds force capitalized on this opportunity and sponsored several militant groups along the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border. According to this brief, the attacks on Saudi Arabia doubled in 2021 as compared to the year 2020. Moreover, the sophistication of attacks and technology used in these guerilla assaults have been enhanced immensely with the facilitation of Iran and Hezbollah. The findings of this brief reflect that not only Saudi Arabia but the whole Gulf region is the target of Houthis’ non-traditional military attacks including the United Arab Emirates. The Houthis are now using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Unmanned Marine Vehicles (UMV), marine mines, modern ballistic and cruise missiles etc. This incorporation of the latest military hardware in the Houthis’ lines is not possible without foreign help and assistance. The brief’s authors emphasize the significance of the US’ involvement in the conflict to support the Saudi-led coalition against the increasing Iranian threat in the Gulf region. 

By: Muhammad Taimoor Bin Tanveer, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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