Shi'ite Houthi rebels swim at the house of the business tycoon and Islah party leader Hameed al-Hamar after they took control of it in Sanaa September 24, 2014. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
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The lightning takeover by Shiite rebels of Yemen's capital this week is a potential boost for Iran against its rival Saudi Arabia, while the U.S. is preoccupied with fighting jihadists, analysts said.It is still unclear what the links are between the Ansarullah, or Houthi, rebels and Shiite-ruled Iran, but Tehran will no doubt be pleased by a move that offers the prospect of expanding its influence on the Arabian Peninsula.Saleh, who is himself Shiite, is widely believed to have played a role in the rebels' takeover of Sanaa through his tribal and security force allies, and it is still unclear what he may expect in return."Internal and foreign forces [have] allied to ... overthrow the Yemeni model" of political transition after the uprising of 2011, the president said. His claims were backed by reports that Yemen freed this week two Iranians said to be members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard who were accused of having trained the Shiite rebels.Washington regards Al-Qaeda's Yemen-based affiliate as its most dangerous and has been waging a drone war against its leaders for years, with the backing of first Saleh and more recently Hadi.
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