||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Arabic Wikipedia. (October 2014)|
|Ansar Allah (أنصار الله)
Supporters of God
|Participant in the Houthi insurgency in Yemen, the Yemeni Revolution, and the Syrian Civil War|
|Active||1994–present (armed since 2004)|
|Ideology||Zaydi Shi'a Islamism
|Groups||Houthis, allied Shia tribes in Sa'dah|
|Area of operations|
|Battles and wars||
Ansar Allah (Arabic: أنصار الله, English: "Supporters of God"), more commonly known as the Houthis (Arabic: الحوثيون al-Ḥūthiyyūn), are a Zaidi Shia group operating in Yemen. They are currently the de facto ruling faction in Yemen, having taken control of the Yemeni government in a 2014–15 coup d'état.
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. 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. The Houthi brothers' father, Badreddin al-Houthi, is said to be the spiritual leader of the group.
The Houthi movement began as the Believing Youth (BY), which was founded in 1992 in Saada Governorate:1008 by either Houthi family member Muhammad al-Houthi,:98 or his brother Hussein al-Houthi. The BY established school clubs and summer camps:98 in order to "promote a Zaidi revival" in Saada. By 1994–1995, 15–20,000 students had attended BY summer camps.: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. Hussein responded by launching an insurgency against the government, but was killed on 10 September 2004. The insurgency continued intermittently until a ceasefire agreement was reached in 2010.
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.
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), which would enable them to launch a direct assault on Yemeni capital Sana'a. 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.
By 21 September 2014, Houthis were said to control parts of the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, including government buildings and a radio station. 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  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. 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.
There is a difference between the al-Houthi family, which has about twenty members: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 and between 2,000 and 10,000 fighters as of 2009. In the Yemen Post it was claimed, however, that they had over 100,000 fighters. 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.
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. 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.
The Houthis have asserted that their actions are to fight against the expansion of Salafism in Yemen, 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, destabilising the government and stirring anti-American sentiment. The Houthis have told people they are “praying in the wrong way” by raising their arms, as is the custom among Sunnis in Yemen.
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. 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, despite the fact that former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was also Zaidi. The discord has led some publishers to fear that further confrontations may lead to an all-out Sunni-Shiite war.
- Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi - Ex-leader (killed in 2004)
- Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi - Leader
- Yahia Badreddin al Houthi - Senior Leader
- Abdul-Karim Badreddin al-Houthi - High ranking commander
- Badr Eddin al-Houthi - Spiritual Leader (died in 2010)
- Abdullah al-Ruzami - Ex-military commander
- Abu Ali Abdullah al-Hakem al-Houthi - Military commander
- Mohammed Abdulsalam
- Saleh Habra - Political leader
- Faris Manna - Houthi appointed governor of Saada and former head of Saleh's Presidential committee
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, 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". 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.
The Houthis' direct administration includes the following territories:
- All of Saada Governorate
- All of 'Amran Governorate
- Majority of Al Jawf Governorate, including:
- All of Hajjah Governorate
- Majority of Sana'a Governorate including strong presence in:
- All of Dhamar Governorate
- All of Al Mahwit Governorate
- All of Raymah Governorate
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