Houthis

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Ansar Allah (أنصار الله)
Supporters of God
Participant in the Houthi insurgency in Yemen, the Yemeni Revolution, and the Syrian Civil War[1]
Houthis Logo.png
Houthi logo reading "God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam"[2][3][4][5]
Active 1994–present (armed since 2004)
Ideology Zaydi Shi'a Islamism[6]
Anti-imperialism[7]
Anti-Zionism[8]
Anti-Americanism[3]
Groups Houthis, allied Shia tribes in Sa'dah
Leaders
Headquarters Sa'dah, Yemen
Area of operations
Allies
Opponents

State opponents

Non-state opponents

Battles and wars

Houthi insurgency in Yemen

Syrian Civil War[11][12]

Ansar Allah (Arabic: أنصار الله‎, English: "Supporters of God"), more commonly known as the Houthis (Arabic: الحوثيونal-Ḥūthiyyūn), are a Zaidi Shia group operating in Yemen.[13] They are currently the de facto ruling faction in Yemen, having taken control of the Yemeni government in a 2014–15 coup d'état.[14]

The group takes its name from Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, who launched an insurgency in 2004 and was reportedly killed by Yemeni army forces that September.[15] Several other commanders, including Ali al-Qatwani, Abu Haider, Abbas Aidah and Yousuf al-Madani (a son-in-law of Hussein al-Houthi), have also been killed by Yemeni forces.[16] The Houthi brothers' father, Badreddin al-Houthi, is said to be the spiritual leader of the group.[17]

History[edit]

The Houthi movement began as the Believing Youth (BY), which was founded in 1992 in Saada Governorate[18]:1008 by either Houthi family member Muhammad al-Houthi,[19]:98 or his brother Hussein al-Houthi.[20] The BY established school clubs and summer camps[19]:98 in order to "promote a Zaidi revival" in Saada.[20] By 1994–1995, 15–20,000 students had attended BY summer camps.[19]:99

After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, BY-affiliated youth began chanting anti-American and anti-Jewish slogans in the Saleh Mosque in Sana'a after Friday prayers. This led to confrontations with the government, and 800 BY supporters were arrested in Sana'a in 2004. President Ali Abdullah Saleh then invited Hussein al-Houthi to a meeting in Sana'a, but Hussein declined. On 18 June 2004 Saleh sent government forces to arrest Hussein.[21] Hussein responded by launching an insurgency against the government, but was killed on 10 September 2004.[22] The insurgency continued intermittently until a ceasefire agreement was reached in 2010.[23]

The Houthis participated in the 2011 Yemeni Revolution, as well as the ensuing National Dialogue Conference (NDC). However, they rejected the provisions of the November 2011 Gulf Cooperation Council deal, which included immunity for former president Saleh and the establishment of a coalition government.[24]

As the revolution went on, Houthis gained control of greater territory. By 9 November 2011, Houthis were said to be in control of two Yemeni governorates (Saada and Al Jawf) and close to taking over their third governorate (Hajjah),[25] which would enable them to launch a direct assault on Yemeni capital Sana'a.[26] In May 2012, it was reported that Houthis controlled a majority of Saada, Al Jawf, and Hajjah governorates; they had also gained access to the Red Sea and started erecting barricades north of the capital Sana'a in preparation for more conflict.[27]

By 21 September 2014, Houthis were said to control parts of the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, including government buildings and a radio station.[28] While control of the capital expanded to the rest of the Sana'a, as well as other towns such as Rada' City,control was strongly challenged by Al-Qaeda. It was believed by Western states and Saudi Arabia that the Houthis had accepted aid from Iran while Saudi Arabia was aiding their Yemeni rivals [29] Al-Qaeda.

On 20 January 2015, Shia Houthi rebels seized the presidential palace in the capital. While President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was in the presidential palace during the takeover, he was safe.[30] The movement officially took control of the Yemeni government on 6 February, dissolving parliament and declaring its Revolutionary Committee to be the acting authority in Yemen.[14]

Membership[edit]

There is a difference between the al-Houthi family, which has about twenty members[19]:102 and the Houthi movement, which took the name "Houthi" after the death of Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi in 2004.

Membership of the group had between 1,000 and 3,000 fighters as of 2005[31] and between 2,000 and 10,000 fighters as of 2009.[32] In the Yemen Post it was claimed, however, that they had over 100,000 fighters.[33] According to Houthi expert Ahmed Al-Bahri the Houthis had a total of 100,000-120,000 followers, including both armed fighters and unarmed loyalists.[34]

Ideology[edit]

Houthis belong to the Zaidi branch of Shia Islam, also known as Fivers, a sect of Islam almost exclusively present in Yemen. They are from the Shi'ite minority similar to the Twelvers found mainly in Iraq, Lebanon and Iran and are known for being most similar to Sunni Muslims in matters of religious law and rulings. They do however, believe in the concept of an Imamate as being essential to their religion, which makes them distinct from Sunnis.[35] However, they are also regularly accused, even by fellow Zaidis, of secretly being converts or followers of the Twelver Shia sect, which is the official religion of their alleged ally Iran.[36][37][38][39]

The Houthis have asserted that their actions are to fight against the expansion of Salafism in Yemen,[36] and for the defence of their community from widespread and systematic discrimination, whereas the Yemeni government has in turn accused the insurgents of intending to overthrow the regime out of a desire to institute Zaidi Shia religious law,[40] destabilising the government and stirring anti-American sentiment.[41] The Houthis have told people they are “praying in the wrong way” by raising their arms, as is the custom among Sunnis in Yemen.[42]

The Yemeni government has also accused the Houthis of having ties to external backers, in particular the Iranian government, as Iran is a Shia-majority country.[43] In turn, the Houthis have countered with allegations that the Yemeni government is being backed by virulently anti-Shia external backers such as al-Qaeda and the monarchy of Saudi Arabia,[44][45][46] despite the fact that former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was also Zaidi.[47] The discord has led some publishers to fear that further confrontations may lead to an all-out Sunni-Shiite war.[48]

Leaders[edit]

Campaign methods[edit]

Houthis and their base of support rely mainly on peaceful methods of campaign, most notably civil disobedience. In a new series of protests which was provoked by Yemeni government's decision in July 13, 2014 to increase fuel prices,[52] Houthi leaders succeeded to organize massive rallies in the capital Sana'a to protest the decision and to demand resignation of the incumbent government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi for "state-corruption".[53] Thousands of Yemenis responded to the Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi's call to "erect tents, carry out sit-ins and organize marches" in the capital.[54]

Administration[edit]

  Controlled by Houthis
  Controlled by Hadi loyalists.
  Controlled by Al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia
  Deserted
  Houthi control
  Houthis presence

The Houthis' direct administration includes the following territories:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Solomon, Ariel Ben (31 May 2013). "Report: Yemen Houthis fighting for Assad in Syria". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "Experts See Signs of Moderation Despite Houthis’ Harsh Slogans". New York Times. 24 January 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015.  "The official slogan and emblem of the Houthis ... includes the words “Death to America, death to Israel, damnation to the Jews.” Houthis shout it when they march, wear it on arm patches, paint it on buildings and stick it onto their car windows. When pictured, those words are rendered in red, framed by “God is great” and “Victory to Islam” in green, on a white background."
  3. ^ a b Baron, Adam (30 October 2012). "Yemenis suspect Iran's hand in rise of Shiite rebels". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  4. ^ "Houthis celebrate birth of Prophet Muhammad". Al Jazeera. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  5. ^ "Yemen says Houthi rebel leader may be dead". Reuters. 27 December 2009. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  6. ^ "What is the Houthi Movement?". 25 September 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2014. 
  7. ^ "Houthis fighting ‘Western imperialism". January 13, 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "Houthi logo says "Damn the Jews"". 3 December 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2014. 
  9. ^ Al-Qaeda Announces Holy War against Houthis
  10. ^ "Islamic State leader urges attacks in Saudi Arabia: speech". Reuters. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "وجود الحوثيين في النجف يثير أزمة بين الرئيس اليمني والتيار الصدري". الاهرام الرقمى. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  12. ^ ARIEL BEN SOLOMON (31 May 2013). "Report: Yemen Houthis fighting for Assad in Syria". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  13. ^ "Ansar Allah vows to defeat al-Qaeda in Yemen". October 2014. Retrieved 2015. 
  14. ^ a b "Yemen's Houthis form own government in Sanaa". Al Jazeera. 6 February 2015. Retrieved 7 February 2015. 
  15. ^ Deaths in Yemeni mosque blast. Al Jazeera. 2 May 2008.
  16. ^ Press TV Saudi soldier, Houthi leaders killed in north Yemen, 19 November 2009
  17. ^ John Pike. "al-Shabab al-Mum?en / Shabab al-Moumineen (Believing Youth)". Global Security. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  18. ^ Freeman, Jack (2009). "The al Houthi Insurgency in the North of Yemen: An Analysis of the Shabab al Moumineen". Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 32 (11): 1008–1019. doi:10.1080/10576100903262716. ISSN 1057-610X. 
  19. ^ a b c d "Regime and Periphery in Northern Yemen: The Huthi Phenomenon". RAND. 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  20. ^ a b "Yemen's Abd-al-Malik al-Houthi". BBC. 3 October 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
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  25. ^ "Houthis Close to Control Hajjah Governorate, Amid Expectations of Expansion of Control over Large Parts of Northern Yemen". Islam Times. 29 November 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  26. ^ "Al-Houthi Expansion Plan in Yemen Revealed". Yemen Post. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  27. ^ "New war with al-Houthis is looming". Yemen observer. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  28. ^ "Houthis seize government buildings in Sanaa". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  29. ^ Kareem Fahim (January 7, 2015). "Violence Grows in Yemen as Al Qaeda Tries to Fight Its Way Back". The New York Times (The Times Company). Retrieved January 8, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Yemen Houthi rebels 'seize presidential palace'". BBC News. 20 January 2015. 
  31. ^ Philips, Sarah (28 July 2005). Cracks in the Yemeni System. Middle East Report Online.
  32. ^ "Pity those caught in the middle". The Economist. 19 November 2009. 
  33. ^ "Thousands Expected to die in 2010 in Fight against Al-Qaeda". Yemen post. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  34. ^ Ahmed Al-Bahri: Expert in Houthi Affairs, 10 April 2010
  35. ^ Pike, John. "Zaydi Islam". Retrieved 2 September 2014. 
  36. ^ a b Manuel Almeida (8 October 2014). "Profile: Who are Yemen’s Houthis?". Al Arabiya News. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  37. ^ "Hothi / Houthi / Huthi: al-Shabab al-Mum'en / Shabab al-Moumineen (Believing Youth)". GlobalSecurity. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  38. ^ Abubakr Al-Shamahi (27 February 2014). "YEMEN IS MORE NUANCED THAN ‘SUNNI’ & ‘SHIA’". Yemen Times. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  39. ^ Bengio, Ofra; Litvak, Meir, eds. (8 Nov 2011). The Sunna and Shi'a in History: Division and Ecumenism in the Muslim Middle East. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 244. ISBN 9780230370739. 
  40. ^ "Deadly blast strikes Yemen mosque". BBC News. 2 May 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2009. 
  41. ^ Sultan, Nabil (10 July 2004). Rebels have Yemen on the hop. Asia Times Online.
  42. ^ ,Yemen's war: Pity those caught in the middle
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  47. ^ "Ali Abdullah Saleh Al-Ahmar". APS Review Downstream Trends. 26 June 2006. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  48. ^ The Arab Revolts, 2013 David Mcmurray
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  55. ^ Yemeni regime loses grip on four provinces
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  61. ^ 24 Houthis Killed in Car Bomb Blast in Jawf
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  65. ^ [1]
  66. ^ "Houthis take over Raima governorate". Yemen Times. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 

External links[edit]