Yahya Sarea

General Yahya Sarea is the military spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi rebels, a.k.a. Ansar Allah.“Yemeni Armed Forces: “Compact Structure” Campaign Liberated an Area of 2500 Sq. Kilometers, Killed, Injured or Arrested Thousands of Mercenaries (Video),” Al Manar, February 2, 2020, https://english.almanar.com.lb/930910; “Yemeni Houthis say they fired missile at Saudi Aramco site in Jeddah,” Reuters, November 22, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-saudi-aramco-saudi/yemens-houthis-say-attacked-saudi-aramco-facility-in-jeddah-with-rocket-tweet-idUSKBN28308L. The Houthis have waged a series of bloody insurgencies against the Yemeni government since 2004, overthrowing them and seizing power in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa in 2015.Ahmed al-Haj, “Yemen Shiite Rebels Harden Their Protest Demands,” Associated Press, August 25, 2014, https://wtop.com/news/2014/08/yemen-shiite-rebels-harden-their-protest-demands/; Rod Nordland, “Rebels in Yemen Say They Intend to Form a New Government,” New York Times, February 6, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/07/world/middleeast/yemen-rebels-say-they-will-dissolve-parliament.html?_r=1.

In February 2015, the Iran-backed Houthis took control of Sanaa and expelled the government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, drawing protest from the U.N. Security Council.“Yemen’s Houthis Form Own Government in Sanaa,” Al Jazeera, February 6, 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2015/02/yemen-houthi-rebels-announce-presidential-council-150206122736448.html. Hadi fled to Aden and rescinded his resignation.Mohammed Ghobari and Mohammed Mukhashaf, “Yemen’s Hadi Flees to Aden and Says He Is Still President,” Reuters, February 21, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/21/us-yemen-security-idUSKBN0LP08F20150221. The internationally recognized Yemeni government has since operated from Aden.“Government outraged as Yemen rebels make TV boss ‘ambassador’ to Iran,” National (Abu Dhabi), last updated March 1, 2020, https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/mena/government-outraged-as-yemen-rebels-make-tv-boss-ambassador-to-iran-1.899666. In March 2015, Saudi Arabia launched Operation Decisive Storm in an effort to quash the Houthi coup and reinstate the government of ousted Yemeni President Hadi.“Saudi ‘Decisive Storm’ waged to save Yemen,” Al Arabiya, March 25, 2015, http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/26/GCC-states-to-repel-Houthi-aggression-in-Yemen-statement-.html; Nick Thompson and Inez Torre, “Yemen: Who’s joining Saudi Arabia's fight against the Houthis?,” CNN, March 30, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/27/world/yemen-saudi-coalition-map/.

Sarea began posting on Twitter in November 2018 as the Houthis’ military spokesman and has since claimed credit for and defended numerous Houthi drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia.Yahya Sarea, Twitter account, accessed January 15, 2021, https://twitter.com/army21ye. Sarea has threatened new attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and any other country participating in the Arab coalition fighting the Houthis.“Houthis threaten to strike ‘sensitive’ sites in Saudi Arabia, UAE,” Xinhua, December 30, 2019, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-12/30/c_138665230.htm. Sarea has also accused the United States of supporting the Arab coalition and arming the Houthis’ enemies.“Saudi Royal Palaces Will Be among Targets of Yemeni Strikes: General Sarea laces,” Al Manar, July 7, 2020, https://english.almanar.com.lb/1082325. He has promised that Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia will continue.“Yemeni Houthis say they fired missile at Saudi Aramco site in Jeddah,” Reuters, November 22, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-saudi-aramco-saudi/yemens-houthis-say-attacked-saudi-aramco-facility-in-jeddah-with-rocket-tweet-idUSKBN28308L.

Throughout 2021, Sarea continued to claim responsibility for Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia while threatening the Houthis were “prepared to carry out stronger and harsher military attacks in the coming period.”Reuters, Raya Jalabi, Lisa Barrington, and Raya Jalabi, “Yemen’s Houthis warn of stronger attacks after drone strikes on Saudi Arabia,” Reuters, March 25, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/saudi-led-coalition-says-it-destroys-several-houthi-drones-launched-kingdom-2021-03-25/; “Yemen’s Houthis say they attacked Saudi Aramco facilities; no Saudi confirmation,” Reuters, April 12, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/yemens-houthis-say-attacked-saudi-aramco-refineries-jeddah-jubail-no-saudi-2021-04-12/; “Saudis intercept Houthi missile and drones aimed at oil region,” Reuters, September 5, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/saudi-led-coalition-foils-missile-attack-oil-region-tv-2021-09-04/. On January 17, 2022, a Houthi drone killed at least three and wounded six others in the UAE. The Houthis claimed the attacks were in response to the “escalation of the US-Saudi-Emirati aggression.”“Charbel Mallo and Celine Alkhaldi, “3 killed in suspected Houthi drone attack in Abu Dhabi,” CNN, January 17, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/17/middleeast/uae-abu-dhabi-explosion-drone-houthi-intl/index.html; Rory Jones, “Houthis Attack U.A.E. Again in Threat to Business and Tourism Hub,” Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-a-e-intercepts-two-ballistic-missiles-over-capital-as-gulf-tensions-escalate-11643007328. On January 24, the Houthis launched drones toward Dubai and ballistic missiles toward Abu Dhabi. Sarea called on foreign companies and investors to leave the UAE because “it has become unsafe.” He also claimed the Houthis were ready to “meet escalation with escalation.”Alexander Cornwell and Alaa Swilam, “UAE blocks missiles as Yemen’s Houthis attack region’s business hub,” Reuters, January 24, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/uaes-defense-ministry-destroyed-2-houthi-ballistic-missiles-wam-2022-01-24/.

Despite Sarea’s threats, on April 1, 2022, the Houthis and the Saudi-led military agreed to a U.N.-brokered two-month truce. The parties agreed to halt all offensive military air, ground, and maritime operations inside Yemen and across its borders in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The truce took effect on April 2.Mostafa Salem and Lianne Kolirin, “Saudi-led coalition and Houthis agree on truce in Yemen, raising hopes for the 'start of a better future',” CNN, April 1, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/01/middleeast/yemen-truce-un-intl/index.html; Saeed Al-Batati, “Yemen troops battle new Houthi attacks near Marib,” Arab News, April 9, 2022, https://www.arabnews.com/node/2059456/middle-east. However, on April 13, Yemeni military spokesman Abdo Majali claimed the Houthis committed 1,230 violations of the truce in the Marib, Taiz, Hajjah, Dhale, and Saada provinces. Majali also accused the Houthis of bringing in reinforcements, as well as an additional 40 military vehicles, to the battlefront in Southern Marib.Saeed Al-Batati, “Yemen troops battle new Houthi attacks near Marib,” Arab News, April 9, 2022, https://www.arabnews.com/node/2059456/middle-east; “Houthis Accused of Committing 1,230 Truce Violations on Various Fronts in Yemen,” Asharq Al-Awsat, April 13, 2022, https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/3588806/houthis-accused-committing-1230-truce-violations-various-fronts-yemen.

On April 9, 2022, Twitter suspended an account belonging to Sarea for breaching its rules. The social media platform stated it prohibits content “glorifying” acts of violence, including “attacks carried out by terrorist organizations or violent extremist groups.” Sarea’s account, which had been in operation since 2018, reportedly had more than 340,000 followers and was used by Sarea to claim responsibility for the rebels’ attacks on the UAE and Saudi Arabia as well as any other country participating in the Arab coalition fighting the Houthis. Although Twitter suspended Sarea’s main account, an English-language account in Sarea’s name remains active and has 17,000 followers. Additionally, several new Arabic accounts allegedly belonging to Sarea have also been discovered.“Twitter suspends Houthi military spokesman's account,” The National, April 10, 2022, https://www.thenationalnews.com/gulf-news/2022/04/10/twitter-suspends-houthi-military-spokesmans-account/.

On October 7, 2023, Iran-backed Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing at least 1,200 people. Israel subsequently launched airstrikes and a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.Lauren Frayer, “Israel revises down its death toll from the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks to about 1,200,” NPR, November 11, 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/11/11/1212458974/israel-revises-death-toll-hamas-attacks-oct-7; Ibrahim Dahman and Abeer Salman, “Hamas announces ‘Al-Aqsa Storm,’ claims to have fired 5,000 rockets,” CNN, October 7, 2023, https://www.cnn.com/middleeast/live-news/al-aqsa-storm-militants-infiltrate-israel-after-gaza-rockets-10-07-intl-hnk/h_644aa5e5d02286051f5cc307e229566a. The Houthis joined other Iranian proxies in targeting Israel and U.S. interests in the region.“Iran’s allies in Iraq, Yemen threaten U.S. over intervention in Israel,” Reuters, October 10, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/senior-iraqi-political-figure-threatens-target-us-interests-if-it-backs-israel-2023-10-10/. Sarea called the attacks a response to “Israeli aggression” and part of the Houthis’ support for the Palestinian people.Jessie Yeung, Hamdi Alkhshali, and Kyle Blaine, “Israel says it thwarted aerial attacks by Yemen’s Houthis near Red Sea,” CNN, November 1, 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/11/01/middleeast/israel-says-it-thwarted-attacks-from-yemens-houthis-intl-hnk/index.html; “Yemen’s Houthis say they launched missiles, drones at Israel,” Reuters, October 31, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israel-warns-possible-hostile-aircraft-near-red-sea-city-eilat-2023-10-31/. On November 30, Sarea wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that the Houthis would continue to block Israeli ships in the Red Sea and stop only when Israel ends its war with Hamas in Gaza.Yahya Sarea, Twitter post, November 30, 2023, 3:45 p.m., https://twitter.com/Yahya_Saree/status/1730327318336258133. Following a December 3 Houthi attack on at least two shipping vessels in the Red Sea, Sarea renewed the Houthi warning that “all Israeli ships or those associated with Israelis” were legitimate targets.Jon Gambrell, “3 commercial ships hit by missiles in Houthi attack in Red Sea, US warship downs 3 drones,” Associated Press, last updated December 4, 2023, https://apnews.com/article/red-sea-houthi-yemen-ships-attack-israel-hamas-war-gaza-strip-716770f0a780160e9abed98d3c48fbde.

Also Known As

Extremist entity
Type(s) of Organization:
Insurgent, religious, social services provider, territory-controlling, violent
Ideologies and Affiliations:
Arab nationalist, jihadist, Islamist, Shiite, Zaidi
Military spokesman

The Houthis are an Iranian-backed, Shiite Muslim armed religious and political movement in Yemen. The Houthis waged a series of bloody insurgencies against the Yemeni government for over a decade, leading to that regime’s overthrow in 2015.

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On January 23, 2019, two car bombs exploded outside of a mosque in Benghazi, Libya, killing 41 people and injuring 80 others. No group claimed responsibility for the blast, but remnants suggested an ISIS affiliate was responsible.  

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