Iran Seeks to Persuade Moscow to Include Houthis in Russia-Eritrea Working Group

Sheba Intelligence | 2023-09-13 02:43 PM UTC


Iran seeks to persuade Russia to include the Houthis in the Russia-Eritrea working group, whose mission is to build a strategic logistical center on the Red Sea coast to enhance Moscow’s military and economic interests, informed sources have told Sheba Intelligence.

The sources indicated that this Iranian attempt came after international moves to limit the Houthis’ ongoing threats to international trade lines in the Red Sea.


Sheba Intelligence obtained information about communications exchanged between Houthi military leaders and Eritrean intelligence agencies over the past few months.  

A classified intelligence report mentioned that the Houthi Chief of Staff of the Naval Forces, Mansour Al-Saadi, visited Eritrea on March 14 by sea. He met on March 15 with the Deputy Chief of Eritrean Intelligence and the Director of the President’s Office and presented them with gifts, including luxury watches and money. Al-Saadi is on the lists of the internationally wanted persons.


The report did not discuss agreements between the two sides, but the Houthi side presented its intention to invest in Eritrea when they met with President Isaias Afwerki on March 16this year.

The report stated that in parallel with the visit, an Iranian arms shipment was transferred from the Eritrean Adi region to the Ras Issa port in the Red Sea.


Suppose Tehran succeeds in convincing Moscow to empower the Houthis on the other side of the Red Sea alongside the Eritreans. In that case, the Russian influence in the most important waterway in the world, Bab al-Mandab, will return, and this will be at the expense of its relations with the Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia, which neighbors Yemen.


In July 2023, the Russian President appointed Maxim Oreshkin as head of the Russian-Eritrea working group during his meeting with the Eritrean President at the Russian-African summit in St. Petersburg.


The Red Sea is a strategic region for Russia, as 24% of its oil exports pass through it. That is why Moscow is moving to establish a strategic center on the Eritrean coast.

 The 2022 annual report issued by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said that Russian military exports to Africa amounted to 18% of the total Russian weapon exports.


The new Russian naval military doctrine signed by President Vladimir Putin in July 2022 stated that Russia will establish logistical support points for ships in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.


Despite the Iranian efforts to improve the Houthi image before Russia, Moscow refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the Houthi Political Council, which governs vast areas in northern Yemen. Instead, Russia is interested in relations with Saudi Arabia, which has taken a neutral position on the conflict in Ukraine and is seeking a public rapprochement with Iran through Chinese mediation.