There will be blowback for Iran in Yemen

History is repeating itself, this time in Yemen. The circumstances that pushed Iraq to its current predicament are taking place on the other side of the Arabian Peninsula. They are being conducted by many of the same actors. And the result, if drastic measures are not taken, will be the same: fragmentation, civil war and ­catastrophe for the region.

Yesterday, a suicide bomber targeted a police academy in the capital Sanaa, killing at least 30. No one claimed responsibility, but it follows a series of attacks on targets in Yemen by Al Qaeda, which is gaining strength in the country. Why?

To answer that, think back to Iraq’s western provinces over the past two years. Majority-Sunni, these provinces turned to militant groups because they felt marginalised by the Shia-led government in Baghdad. Despite warnings that Nouri Al Maliki needed to lead an inclusive government and stop favouring the Shia, he continued to marginalise Sunni communities. The result was the entrenchment of ISIL and, eventually, the takeover of Iraq’s second city Mosul.

The same thing is happening now, among Yemen’s Sunnis. The Shia Houthi, who have expanded rapidly to take over the capital, are seeking to extend their power across the country. The central government is unwilling or unable to fight back, and so Sunnis are turning to Al Qaeda as the only group willing, as they see it, to stand up for their rights.

At the same time, as in Iraq, the US is playing a detrimental role. Its drone strikes in Yemen target militants but also kill innocent people and families – all without recourse. This anger has helped Al Qaeda’s appeal.

But the real hand, of course, is the same as in Iraq. It is Iran that supports the Houthis, on the assumption that a fragmented Yemen will cause problems for the GCC and particularly Saudi Arabia. That strategy is beginning to work.

The GCC must not sit idly by while Iran plays its destructive game. And Iran must recognise that it is creating a monster it will one day be unable to control. The blowback from its meddling in Syria and Iraq has claimed Iranian lives; its machinations in Yemen will do the same. Iran should not be surprised that the world measures it by both words and deeds.

The National