BMP-2 of one of the Houthi units. Photo Lostarmour.info
The most interesting participant in the Yemeni civil war is the paramilitary organization Ansar Allah, whose members are also known as the Houthis. This organization is a very real army, but in terms of the level of material it is noticeably lagging behind opponents, first of all, from foreign invaders. Nevertheless, this does not prevent the successful continuation of the battles and the holding of the occupied areas.
Sources and supplies
For the first time, the so-called. the Houthis entered open battles with government forces in 2009, and since then the conflict has faded and flared up several times. At the time of the first clashes, the Houthis were a simple local militia with limited material resources. They had at their disposal a variety of small arms, as well as civilian vehicles. The latter was often rebuilt into handicraft armored cars.
Tank M1A2S, recaptured by the troops of Saudi Arabia in 2018. Photo by Lostarmour.info
According to various sources, already at that time, “Ansar Alla” began to receive support from abroad. Iran and Hezbollah are interested in the development and strengthening of this organization, which eventually resulted in the transfer of money, the supply of various military equipment, the dispatch of military advisers, etc. Other countries are also suspected of helping the Houthis.
In general, until 2014, Ansar Alla received only limited assistance, but it was also sufficient for current tasks. With the outbreak of the civil war, the situation changed, and needs and requirements increased. And during this period, the Houthis received new sources of weapons.
So, already in 2014, some parts of the Yemeni armed forces refused to obey the government and went over to the side of the Houthi rebels. Together with them, the paramilitary organization received weapons, equipment, bases, etc. Active conduct of battles, in most cases successful, contributed to the capture of many trophies. At first, it was only about the materiel of the Yemeni army, but then the Houthis began to seize the property of the invaders. In addition, against the backdrop of active hostilities, assistance from unspoken allies increased.
Typical “striking power” of the Houthis are pickup trucks with machine guns and light artillery. Photo Shusharmor.livejournal.com
Yemen to Yemen
As a result of all these events, the basis of the Houthis materiel is the former property of the Yemeni armed forces. This army on the eve of the war could not be called modern and well-equipped, and in the future the situation has seriously deteriorated. However, such trophies were enough for the new owners.
Ansar Alla received a number of tanks of various types from the army, from the T-34-85 (at one time one of these vehicles became the star of reports) to the T-72, and the T-54/55 are the most massive on the battlefields. Yemen was armed with hundreds of armored personnel carriers of Soviet, American, own and other production, as well as a significant number of Soviet BMP1 and BMP-2. There were self-propelled and towed field artillery, MLRS, anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons, operational-tactical missile systems, etc.
Another example of “technical creativity”. HMMWV car with a turret from the BMP-1. Photo Strangernn.livejournal.com
Due to the general specifics of wars, it is not possible to estimate how much materiel remained with the old owners, and how much became trophies. However, it is obvious that the amount of weapons and equipment received is enough to successfully resist the remnants of government troops, and then the interventionists.
The most important “internal” resource has become the country’s car fleet. The maximum possible number of vehicles has been “mobilized”, and a significant part of them have been converted into combat vehicles. The result of handicraft work is armored cars or vehicles with artillery rocket or small arms.
As in the case with other local conflicts of recent decades, handicraft armed vehicles have become almost the main force of the formations. This technique is quite simple to manufacture and operate, and also combines high mobility with sufficient firepower.
Self-propelled air defense system based on a car. An air-to-air missile was used as a missile. Photo Strangernn.livejournal.com
Weapons are produced and reworked using available resources. As in other Middle Eastern countries, various “ballon launchers” and other improvised crafts with acceptable firepower have gained some popularity in Yemen. More diligent craftsmen even manage to make air defense systems based on captured air-to-air missiles. Attempts are being made to create a serial production of one kind or another.
Actions on the water do not go unnoticed. The Houthis do not build a full-fledged fleet, but they have anti-ship missiles, boats for various purposes, and even remotely controlled fire ships. All this was repeatedly used against enemy ships with noticeable results.
Abroad will help them
With the onset of a full-scale conflict, aid from abroad did not stop but, on the contrary, intensified. Various weapons through clandestine channels come from friendly Iran, as well as from Hezbollah. Foreign sources mention possible assistance from the DPRK – directly or through intermediaries.
MLRS “Badr-1” is a small-scale product of the Houthi industry. Frame from the reportage Russia Today
There is reason to believe that the Houthis receive from the allies various small arms and other infantry systems. Delivery of more sophisticated weapons is also possible. For example, Ansar Allah forces regularly strike at remote targets of the Arab coalition, for which they need missiles with sufficient characteristics. It is believed that such weapons cannot be produced in artisanal conditions and come from Iran.
The seizure of trophies from the invading armies turns out to be a kind of channel for foreign “aid”. Due to this, the Houthis managed to receive dozens, if not hundreds of pieces of artillery and armored vehicles over the years of the conflict. At the same time, not all trophies are put into service. Thus, M1 Abrams tanks, still suitable for further use, were repeatedly blown up for the sake of ideologically correct agitation.
Limitations and Benefits
Thus, as of the beginning of the open conflict and until now, the organization “Ansar Alla” from the point of view of material support is a very specific sight. Outwardly, it does not look like an army, although it has a similar structure. In addition, despite all the features, it is quite well armed and long ago left the state of a simple militia from the local population.
Another curious example is the D-30 howitzer on the chassis of the ATS-59G tractor. Photo Shusharmor.livejournal.com
The Houthis are armed with a wide range of weapons, from light rifle systems to tactical missiles. There is a variety of equipment, from armed pickup trucks to tanks. As the course of the war shows, this is quite enough to counter even a developed enemy in the person of several foreign armies with modern weapons.
This development of events, in which a more developed enemy regularly suffers defeats, has several explanations. To a large extent, the success of the Houthis is facilitated by numerous mistakes of the coalition. Having modern materiel, the Arab armies cannot use it competently and receive corresponding advantages. At the same time, they have to work on foreign territory, where the enemy feels more confident.
Remote controlled boat is a threat to enemy ships. Photo Shusharmor.livejournal.com
The Houthis, unlike the interventionists, know the area and enjoy the support of the population. In addition, Ansar Alla makes effective use of external assistance. Competent plans are drawn up independently and with the help of foreign specialists, and the system of training fighters and commanders is being improved. All this leads to an increase in the combat effectiveness of the formations as a whole.
For objective reasons, the Houthis cannot build a full-fledged army with all its attributes, including a developed rear with the production of the necessary products and logistics. They only have to rely on limited opportunities related to local resources, trophies and overseas supplies. It is for this reason that “Ansar Alla” outwardly bears little resemblance to the more developed armies of the interventionist countries.
A characteristic difference from the enemy is the uniform “zoo” in the material part without any serious unification or standardization. However, even such forced measures give the desired result: the Houthis use the available opportunities, defend themselves and attack. All this once again reminds that, in addition to military-industrial innovations, there are other components in victories. And in this respect, the Yemeni militia is much stronger than foreign armies.