Palestinian militants praise Houthi’s offer for a prisoner exchange with Saudi Arabia

Palestinian militant groups the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) recently praised the Iranian-backed Houthis for their offer to exchange prisoners with Saudi Arabia.

As previously detailed by FDD’s Long War Journal, the leader of the Houthi movement – Abdel Malek al Houthi – recently offered to exchange a captured Saudi pilot, several officers, and soldiers for Hamas members currently being tried in Saudi Arabia for financing terrorism.

Shortly after the offer was made, PIJ publicly praised the Houthi leader.

“The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine appreciates the initiative announced by the leader of the Ansar Allah Movement in Yemen, Mr. Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi,” PIJ’s statement read.

Furthermore, PIJ made its feelings known about the arrest, saying Hamas members were “unjustly detained by the Saudi authorities against the background of their positions and their support for the resistance.”

Adding to the public praise, the PFLP also issued a statement lauding the Houthi leader’s initiative to assist in the Palestinian cause.

“The initiative is noble and courageous, and comes as a new affirmation of the authentic and continuous Yemeni position in support of the Palestinian people and their struggle,” PFLP published.

The statement also derided Saudi-led coalition operations in Yemen without specifically calling out Saudi Arabia.

“The initiative expresses the interconnected national struggle, whose Palestinian cause remains its center, despite the suffering of brotherly Yemen from the results of the aggression and the threat to its territorial integrity.”

The statement from PIJ praising the Houthis came as no surprise. Like its counterpart Hamas, PIJ belongs to the “Axis of Resistance.” The axis is made up of Hamas, PIJ, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades and others. Under Iran’s guidance and support, the groups operate primarily against Israel, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

But the PFLP’s statement was somewhat unique due to the limited evidence of the group’s ties with the “Axis of Resistance.”

On the surface it may seem the PFLP is supporting Iranian influence in the region with their public praise of the Houthi offer (which Iran certainly green-lit.) However, the statement falls more in line with previous PFLP statements of support for Palestinian prisoners rather than one showing reverence to Iran and its proxy groups who operate in the region.

Joe Truzman is a senior research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian armed groups and non-state actors in the Middle East.

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