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Ansar Allah Leader Dr. Hizam Al-Assad on Yemen’s Struggle, Naval Confrontations, and Global Alliances Ahmed Abdulkareem on March 11, 2024 at 8:09 pm

Since the outbreak of the war on Gaza and subsequent tensions in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Arabian Sea, MintPress News has sought dialogue with the most important decision-makers in Ansar Allah, who are leading the charge in Yemen’s resistance against Israeli interests there in a bid to force Israel to accept a ceasefire and allow aid to enter the besieged Strip.

We aim to ask deep and fundamental questions that are of interest to Western readers and people around the world, particularly in the United States, where the media often fails to provide an alternative, let alone opposing, point of view.

MintPress News not only seeks to convey events from the ground in Yemen, but to break the unilateral narrative that has largely prevailed throughout the world about the explosive events in Bab al-Mandab, arguably the most important international strait and shipping corridor. It is in this context that MintPress News has reopened on-the-ground reporting in Yemen, bringing readers exclusive stories and interviews with prominent officials behind recent events like the sinking of a British cargo ship, American airstrikes on the Yemeni mainland, deadly attacks against commercial and military vessels belonging to the U.S., Britain, and Israel, allegations of sabotage of internet cables in the Red and Arabian Seas, the European military mission “Aspides,” and other thorny issues, including the Iranian agenda in the Red Sea, peace in the war-torn country, and an anticipated invasion of Yemen.

For that, MintPress News correspondent Ahmed Abdulkareem interviewed prominent member of the Ansar Allah movement, Dr. Hizam Al-Assad, who is an active member and plays a role in developments in the Red Sea and supporting the people of Gaza. A video showing Dr. Al-Assad along and his team performing the traditional Yemeni Buraa dance on the deck of the Israeli-linked ship, the Galaxy, after its seizure by Ansar Allah in the Red Sea on November 19, 2023, went viral last fall on Arab news and social media platforms, garnering millions of views. The seizure of the Galaxy was Ansar Allah’s first operation since the onset of Israel’s war on Gaza.

 

MintPress News: Since October 27, when Israel began the war on Gaza, Ansar Allah announced it would target Israel with missiles and drones and prevent Israeli ships from crossing the Red Sea in addition to targeting U.S. and UK ships. Does Ansar Allah intend to continue this campaign?

Dr. Hizam Al-Assad: Our attitude on the US-backed Israeli aggression and siege on our people in Gaza is a religious, humanitarian and moral attitude, especially when Zionists went too far in their crimes against the Palestinian people in Gaza – genocidal crimes that have been committed against tens of thousands of children, women and civilians in a geographical area that is besieged from all sides.

Because of that, the Yemeni people, represented by their leadership and army, moved to support the oppressed people in Gaza by striking “Israeli” [territory] and targeting ships linked to Israel, or heading to its ports, until the aggression stops and the siege on the people in Gaza is lifted. And because of the American-British aggression against our country, our army had to respond by targeting Washington and London’s ships and military assets in the Red and Arabian Seas.

We confirm that as long as the aggression and siege on our brothers in Gaza continues, ships linked to the Israeli enemy entity will continue to be targeted, as well as targeting Israeli [territory], in addition to continuing to confront and respond to the British-American aggression over our country. Our response is a legitimate right guaranteed by all international and humanitarian systems and laws.

MintPress News: For the third month in a row, the United States and Britain continue to bomb Hodeidah Governorate and other Yemeni governorates, including the capital, Sana’a. Have these strikes undermined Ansar Allah’s capabilities, as is the stated goal of the attacks on Yemen? 

Dr. Hizam Al-Assad: As for the American and British strikes on our country, they are considered an unjustified and blatant attack on the sovereignty of the Republic of Yemen, especially since the operations of our naval forces supporting the people of Gaza do not target international navigation but are limited to preventing or targeting ships linked to the Israeli enemy entity to pressure it to stop its aggression and crimes and to lift the siege on the residents of the Gaza Strip.

However, the American and British strikes on our country did not significantly undermine our army’s military capabilities. Rather, we increased the pace of confrontation and escalation in targeting U.S. and British ships, and we may go beyond that to target U.S. interests in the region, which is a legitimate and guaranteed right.

MintPress News: What is Ansar Allah’s position on potential escalatory steps that Israel may take in Gaza, especially an invasion of Rafah, as well as the potential for an expansion of U.S. and British attacks in the Red Sea or even a U.S.-led ground invasion of Yemen? 

Dr. Hizam Al-Assad: Israel continues to carry out its crimes against the Palestinian people in Gaza with direct American support and participation. The body parts and blood of Gaza’s children have become a disgrace to America, especially as it not only continues to provide military support to the Israeli occupation entity in order to kill more women and children but also to use its veto power in the UN Security Council to thwart any draft resolution aimed to stop the war.

Any new Israeli approach to escalation in Rafah may expose more than one million, three hundred thousand people to certain death and will put international and humanitarian organizations and human rights laws to the test, especially since Washington, which always pays lip service to humanity and the protection of rights, is still insisting on continuing to support the Israeli army as it continues committing more crimes against a defenseless people, and American airlifts continues to supply the Israeli army with bombs, missiles, and deadly shells that kill hundreds of children, women, and civilians every day. It also destroys homes, hospitals, places of displacement, and civilian facilities.

All of this makes it necessary for us to continue supporting and escalating military operations. We have, thanks to God, options and major, powerful surprises that will be painful for Israel, America and the British.

We are waging an honorable battle to support the vulnerable and oppressed in the face of satanic and evil forces that spread devastation, destruction and blood. They also bomb, kill and commit genocide against tens of thousands of children, women and civilians in a narrow and besieged geographical area.

Regarding escalation by the United States, our response may be earth-shattering and severe. America’s interests will be harmed, and its soldiers will be killed. Their bodies may not return home because they are aggressors against our country and participating in the killing and siege of our brothers in Gaza.

If the American forces decide to enter into a ground war, this is what our Yemeni people, armed with faith, iron, and fire, aspire to and desire. The Yemeni citizen longs for the day when they can confront the American invaders and occupiers face to face.

As for our naval forces, they contribute to securing international navigation and have never been a source of danger or concern to maritime shipping lines. However, Washington is trying to use these flimsy excuses to justify its attacks to those who still believe it, as it claims that it secures international navigation. In reality, it participates with Israel in the killing and siege against our brothers in the Gaza Strip. They are trying to protect Israeli ships in the Red and Arab Seas and ignoring the interests of taxpayers. They are also carrying out aggression against Yemen.

MintPress News: Over the past few days, the roads closed between areas controlled by the National Salvation Government and those controlled by the Saudi coalition’s allies have been reopened. Can you tell MintPress more about this? What is the state of reconciliation efforts between opposing parties in Yemen?

Dr. Hizam Al-Assad: The path of Yemeni negotiations with the Saudi-led Coalition, especially Saudi Arabia, is ongoing and continued. There is a roadmap project that may be finalized and signed soon, despite continuing American pressure aimed at disrupting this path because of our positions rejecting the continuation of Israeli-American crimes against the residents of Gaza.

Regarding the reopening of roads in either some military contact areas or in some axes of the fronts, there has been a breakthrough in some areas after the Sanaa government’s [Ansar Allah] initiative to open them with local mediation and guarantees and far from American pressure trying to hinder peace in Yemen.

MintPress News: Ansar Allah announced the downing of a U.S. warplane and the sinking of a British ship, in addition to the targeting of U.S. and British warships. Do you consider this an escalation by Ansar Allah due to the war on Gaza, or is it related to Washington’s recent decision to classify Ansar Allah as a terrorist group?

Dr. Hizam Al-Assad: The Yemeni armed forces will continue to target ships linked to Israel until the aggression is stopped and the siege on our people in Gaza is lifted. Regarding the strike on US.. ships and military assets in the Red and Arabian Seas, [we have] an escalatory and strategic plan to target them and cleanse our territorial waters of them as a response to their aggression against Yemen.

Our goal is to bring security and peace to the region. The American forces that traveled a distance of more than ten thousand miles to reach our seas came to militarize the Red Sea and to spread problems, wars and aggression against our country and participate in the killing of Palestinian people.

The American people must know that their forces are not in a defensive position but are in an aggressive position. International navigation in the Red Sea is safe and proceeding normally and naturally. The evidence of this is the continuation of [maritime] traffic to all destinations except those heading to the Israeli enemy entity or the American and British ships, as they are still carrying out aggression against our country.

Regarding the Biden administration’s classification of us as terrorists, it is a political classification whose purpose is to blackmail us into abandoning our support of the Palestinian people in Gaza. We are not concerned about America’s classifications because it is an enemy that has already been defeated and will not hesitate to make accusations against its opponent.

In fact, the United States, given its criminal record, is considered the head of evil, terrorism, and criminality in the whole world, and throughout its bloody history, it is the mother of terrorism and its source. It is the one who practices oppression and terrorism against the peoples of the world under the same titles and justifications.

As for those who support just humanitarian and moral issues and support the oppressed Palestinian people in Gaza, they are those who fight terrorism and confront the forces of arrogance and global criminality.

MintPress News: On February 19, a European military mission led by Greece called Aspides was launched. The mission’s stated aim is to use battleships and frigates to protect navigation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. What is Ansar Allah’s position on Aspides? 

Dr. Hizam Al-Assad: According to European officials who spoke to us, their mission is defensive, to accompany some European ships. It has nothing to do with American and British hostilities and will not represent a threat to the Republic of Yemen.

So far, we are still taking them for their word. If any country sides with the U.S. and Britain in the aggression against Yemen, the fate of its ships, navigational interests, and others will be the same fate that Washington’s and London’s ships are facing right now in the Red and Arabian Seas.

There is no threat posed by Asnar Allah to international navigation in the Red and Arabian Seas. Our naval forces have contributed greatly and for years to securing international navigation, while the imminent danger to the security and safety of international navigation lies in the American-British escalation: the attempt to militarize the Red Sea and the launching of missiles toward Yemen’s territory from the proximity of commercial ships, as well as threatening and forcing major shipping companies not to pass through Bab al-Mandab, and obliging ships sailing across the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea to turn off their identification devices.

All of these evil measures, which I mentioned, are an attempt to create confusion around the security of international navigation and an attempt to portray the operations of our naval forces against Israeli ships as posing a threat to the security of navigation for the purpose of inciting world opinion against us. The Biden administration is deceiving its people who pay taxes as it spends their money to harm them and cause damage to their interests, not to service them or protect their interests, such as the well-being of commercial ships.

MintPress News: What is your response to claims Ansar Allah threatens international navigation in the Red Sea, that it poses a danger to underwater internet cables and that it exposes the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to environmental danger by targeting oil tankers such as the recent sinking of the MV Rubymar?

Dr. Hizam Al-Assad: Regarding the sinking of the British Rubymar, we are committed to our people and our nation, and we will continue to target and sink all American and British ships within the right of response to their aggression against our country. It is the least we can do in the face of the brutality, crime, and arrogance practiced by Washington and London towards our country and our nation. I can confirm to MintPress News that there are major, powerful, and unexpected surprises for our enemy if the attacks against our country continue.

Regarding optical internet lines and cables in the Red and Arabian Seas, over the past month, Washington has sought to sabotage them after raising the issue in the media. This was a preemptive move intended to blame our naval forces.

We affirm our commitment to contribute to protecting and securing international shipping lines and internet cables in the Red and Arabian Seas. Furthermore, we will protect it from the danger posed by the aggressing American and British forces. For us, this is a religious, moral and humanitarian obligation and is consistent with international laws and treaties, as our country is one of the most important riparian countries and has the right to do so. The United States, which came to the region for one goal only, to protect Israel, will not hesitate to harm the interests of the world in favor of Israel.

MintPress News: Ansar Allah is accused of implementing Tehran’s agenda in the Red Sea. First, is the characterization true? Second, what is the relationship between Ansar Allah and Iran?

Dr. Hizam Al-Assad: Our positions and decisions are completely independent. Our relationship with Iran is a brotherly and equal relationship. We agree and meet with Tehran and all the free people of the region and the world on humanitarian stances that support the right of the Palestinian people to live and remain on their land and to defend their threatened existence.

Feature photo | Dr. Hizam Al-Assad

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist based in Sana’a. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

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 MintPress NewsJoin MintPress News in an exclusive interview, delving into the heart of Yemen’s resistance with Dr. Hizam Al-Assad, covering topics from the war in Gaza to international naval dynamics.
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