Iran Plans to Establish Economic Zone With Military Agenda in Yemen's Ras Issa

Sheba Intelligence | 2024-02-27 01:13 PM UTC


An investigation by Sheba Intelligence reveals that the Iranians have begun planning to establish a free economic zone on the Red Sea coast in the Ras Issa of Al-Hudaydah as part of the benefits they will gain from the war in Yemen.


The investigation, which will be published later, tracks information about Iran's ambition for a free economic zone on the Red Sea coast. It cited Iranian statements confirming that the Ras Issa economic zone will help the Iranians to have a strong presence in the most critical waterway for international trade. The zone will develop trade exchanges with Iran and achieve easy access to oil and Iranian goods for the purpose of re-exporting them to Europe and African countries.


The investigation also reveals that the Iranians and the Ansar Allah (Houthi) group approved the plan in July 2022 during the visit of a delegation from the Houthi government to Tehran, including the head of the Economic Committee and the governor of the Houthis-controlled Central Bank of Yemen.


The sources indicated that the implementation experts of Iranian companies have been present in AlHudaydah and the Ras Issa area since June 2023 to implement the plan.


The investigation quoted commercial sources confirming that Iranian companies have completed engineering plans for the region, including constructing a number of docks to receive goods and oil shipments, constructing buildings and warehouses for goods, and completing six tanks to store Iranian oil shipments.


According to the sources, the implementation of the plan was entrusted to the Mohsen Brothers Group, which is affiliated with Houthi leaders and owned by the merchant Ali Mohsen Al-Hadi, whom the Houthis appointed as head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


A source from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Sanaa said the Houthi group imposed Al-Hadi within the framework of paving the way for the establishment of the economic zone and oil tanks in Ras Issa by forcing private sector companies to pay millions of dollars to finance the economic free zone project.


On June 6 of last year, the Houthis announced the addition of a new gas berth at the port of Ras Issa. Although Iran's project to establish a free zone on the Red Sea is of economic interest, commercial sources suggested that the project has other hidden military and security goals.


One Yemeni businessman described the project as "a partnership between the Houthis and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps".


The businessman whose Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Sanaa was restructured by the Houthis told Sheba Intelligence, "The overthrow of the elected board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce and the appointment of a new board of directors loyal to the Houthis was often aimed at supporting a parasitic sector … in preparation for entering into a partnership with the Revolutionary Guard to implement the economic zone project on the Red Sea, and to cover up military agenda."


The Sheba Intelligence investigation quoted an Iranian report saying: "Given Yemen's proximity to the African market and the low labor wages in this country, production costs can be reduced, and for this reason, Iranian factories can open branches there, and investment and exports to the large African market can flourish. With this, the wheel of industry will turn. The development process will begin in Yemen, and Iran will be able to compensate for its budget deficit."


Another report says: "By being present in this region, Iran can communicate with allied groups and countries such as the Houthis in Yemen or others in East Africa, or Palestinian resistance groups, besides securing and expanding its economic interests and spreading the ideology and thought of the religious revolution."


Muhammad Jawad Al-Mansouri, an Iranian political analyst and researcher, said, "Iran's strategy is being pursued in the countries of East Africa, the Horn of Africa, and the coastal countries of the Red Sea in order to achieve several goals: stabilizing political influence, expanding economic interests after international economic sanctions, exporting the revolution, and establishing sea and land routes."


According to the researcher, Tehran developed a military strategy in 2008 that is supposed to be fully implemented by 2025, and the Red Sea is one of the main battle fronts in this strategy.


 Iran transfers weapons through the Red Sea route and sends fighters, and its other goal is to confront and reduce Arab influence in East Africa and the Red Sea and besiege the Arab countries located in the region.