Houthi

January 19-25: Houthi landmines claim multiple victims, warring parties at standstill in Hudaydah

Saturday, January 19

According to AP, UN experts have found that fuel shipped illegally from Iran is being used by the Houthis to finance their operations.

ReliefWeb published a November 2018 Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH) analysis of the Shara’b al-Salam district of Ta’iz province today. The analysis concludes that 20% of internally displaced persons and 31% of host community households in the district had not been able to meet their water needs in the month prior to the assessment. Furthermore, 76% of IDPs and 70% of host community households in the district reported that leaving garbage in public spaces where it was left uncollected was the most common method of disposal.

Al-Masdar Online reports that two of Ta’iz city’s most wanted individuals were killed today by the Abu al-Abbas Brigades, an armed group with ties to AQAP and the UAE that controls parts of Ta’iz.

Al-Masdar Online tweeted a video in which the mother of activist Zakariya al-Qasim demands to know the fate of her son, who has been imprisoned by UAE forces for approximately one year.

October 13-18: 14 million people at risk of starvation; US mercenaries responsible for Aden assassinations

10/13

A coalition air raid targeted a checkpoint near Jabal Ras in Hudaydah, killing at least six people and injuring others.

10/14

Houthi militia arrested students at San’a University following the October 6th “Revolution of the Hungry” demonstration. Students had their phones confiscated and searched by militia members and a number of students were arrested.

Senator Sanders joined other senators in demanding that the US “withdraw its support from Saudi Arabia in Yemen’s civil war” in response to “allegations that the Saudi government murdered a dissident journalist.”

Yemenis Demand Accountability from Conflict Parties in "Revolution of the Hungry" Protests

On Saturday October 6, protests broke out at the University of San’a in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital, the University of Ibb, and the city of Ta’iz. Demonstrations by women in particular have also been reported in the city of Ibb, calling for an end to hunger. These protests, organized under the title “Revolution of the Hungry,” called attention to the deteriorating economic conditions in the country as well as the widespread suffering of Yemenis from starvation and malnutrition, and express anger at Houthi governance practices which have worsened the economic and food-security situation for civilians in areas under their control. Nearly two months before, there were reports that Yemeni activists had called for citizens to participate in a “Revolution of the Hungry” in San’a against the Houthis.

Human Rights Watch Recommends Sanctions Against Coalition Officials Over Blockade

Human Rights Watch recommends that the UN Security Council impose asset freezes and travel bans on senior coalition officials, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, unless the coalition fully lifts its blockade on Yemen. The coalition is currently restricting humanitarian aid and commercial imports from reaching civilians living in Houthi-controlled territory. The blockade contributes to the massive humanitarian crisis, causing a fuel shortage and widespread food insecurity. These actions may amount to using starvation as a tool of warfare, a war crime under international law.

November 13-20; US House Says US Military Assistance to the Coalition is Unauthorized; Saudi Blockade Continues

11/13

Saudi Arabia announced that the Saudi-led coalition would open the ports controlled by the Hadi government, including Aden, Mokha, and Mukalla. However, the coalition wouldn’t open ports such as al-Hudaydah in Houthi-controlled territory until the UN sends experts to ensure that weapons aren’t being smuggled through them. Leaders of the Houthi organization vowed to retaliate against the Saudi-led coalition over the blockade.

November 6-13; Coalition Institutes Full Blockade on Yemen, Exacerbates Humanitarian Crisis

11/6

In a phone call on Saturday, President Trump and King Salman discussed the attempted Houthi missile attack on the Riyadh airport, and Trump stated that he supported selling more military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

Trump's New Iran Policy is Misguided

A policy analysis by Jay Solomon of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy describes how President Trump places Yemen “front and center” in his new strategy to counter Iran. The Trump administration’s plan focuses on limiting Iran’s regional influence, which it exerts by providing weapons and training to militias in other countries. Regarding Yemen, Trump is concerned about Iranian weapon transfers to the Houthis, the increasing danger the Houthis pose to neighboring countries, and Iran’s ability to threaten energy trade routes in the Red Sea. Since the Houthis have already fired missiles into Saudi Arabia, Trump views the Houthi threat as imminent, and his plan to counter the group includes further assisting the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, especially through intelligence and logistics support, reducing conditions on arms transfers to the coalition, and guarding the Red Sea against Iranian hostilities more forcefully.

International Crisis Group: Saudi Arabia Must Promote Political Settlement During Houthi-Saleh Tensions

International Crisis Group published a report on October 11, 2017 explaining that the ongoing tensions within the Houthi-Saleh alliance provide the opportunity for Saudi Arabia to resolve the war in Yemen with an inclusive regional initiative. The report suggests that Saudi Arabia should capitalize on this moment of heightened strain in the Houthi-Saleh relationship and promote peace, ending a war that is economically and diplomatically costly for Saudi Arabia itself and disastrous for the Yemenis.

Militant Salafism in Ta'iz: Three clusters and many differences

In the paper “The evolution of militant Salafism in Taiz,” activist and scholar Bushra Al-Maqtari argues that the rise of the Houthi movement and the outbreak Yemen’s armed conflict have driven a transformation of Salafi groups in Yemen.  Since the establishment of the first Salafist center in Yemen in the 1980s, most Salafi factions have focused on charity, relief, and intellectual institutions, and have been governed by the Islamic notion of Wali al-Amr that rejected the disobedience to the ruler and distanced the movement from political action

August 28-September 5: Floods Increase Rate of Cholera; NGOs Urge Independent International Inquiry in Yemen

8/28

Saudi Arabia campaigned at the United Nations in an attempt to emphasize its humanitarian role in Yemen, stating that the country has donated over $8 billion to assist Yemen. Saudi Arabia is concerned about the UN child rights blacklist and a possible UN human rights inquiry into crimes in Yemen.

Sana'a Center: US Military Policy Destabilizes Yemen

According to a report by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, US military assistance and counterterrorism policies in Yemen have destabilized the country and produced effects counter to US interests. US military aid to the Yemeni government, under both President Saleh and President Hadi, has allowed the presidents to undemocratically consolidate power through appointing family members and allies to military positions. It has also contributed to the current war in Yemen; the Houthi-Saleh alliance use weapons that the US gave to Yemen previously, and counterterrorism military aid to the government is often used to maintain the government’s fight against the Houthis. Meanwhile, counterterrorism efforts against AQAP are undermined by the continuing chaos of the war and by the government’s prioritization of the fight against the Houthis which, at times, leads to cooperation between the government and AQAP.

Sana'a Center on Iran's Role in Yemen

The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies has published an article attempting to accurately depict Iran’s involvement in the Yemeni conflict. The author, Farea al-Muslimi, points out that, while Iran is in fact supporting the Houthis in some capacity, the Saudi response has been disproportionate compared to the scale of Iranian commitment. He argues that Iran’s support for the Houthis is an attempt to force the Saudis into yet another conflict, thereby weakening the Saudi government’s military and financial capacity as a whole.

San'a's isolation: Implications for peacebuilding

In a new publication from the International Crisis Group, the organization’s Arabian Peninsula Senior Analyst, April Longley Alley, discusses realities on the ground in Yemen’s Houthi-held capital, San’a. She focuses on the isolation of San’a from the rest of Yemen and its impact on locals; although food products are available in stores in San’a, the money to purchase them is dwindling for many families. Furthermore, the author emphasizes that the high numbers of civilian casualties that accompany Saudi attacks have turned public opinion against the Saudi-led coalition. Many feel a sense of solidarity with the Houthis as a result of both isolation from the rest of Yemen and indiscriminate coalition bombings; these combine to create an “us and them” mentality that pits San’a against Saudi Arabia, and locals feel angry toward both the Saudi-led coalition and the United States over the high number of civilian deaths.

A Houthi Retrospective

This week we witnessed major political developments in Yemen, as the Houthi* Movement--also referred to as Ansar Allah--solidified control of the capital, San‘a, and Yemen’s central government collapsed. As happens every so often, the US and international press are now paying attention to Yemen, but mainstream news outlets rarely provide the background and context their audiences need to understand stories like these. As an aid to readers who may be new to the Yemen beat, I've collected some essential links below.

My coverage of this week's dramatic events (be sure to follow the links in each post, too):

1/19: “Coup, or Business as Usual in San‘a” Monday in southern San‘a began with the sound of machine-gun and artillery fire, as fighting broke out between Houthi “Popular Committee” militiamen and military units loyal to President Hadi.

1/20: “Al-Houthi Lays Down the Law” The ceasefire agreed yesterday between President Hadi and Houthi Popular Committees was quickly shown to be a dead letter, as intermittent clashes began again on Tuesday. By the evening, Houthi forces had the presidential palace, President Hadi's residence, and the military camp overlooking the palace all surrounded, and had cut off all roads leading into the area

1/22: “Hadi and Government Resign under Houthi Pressure” After a week of surprisingly rapid developments in what had previously been a very slow-motion coup, the political situation in Yemen took another turn on Thursday. First, Yemen’s prime minister, Khaled Bahah, delivered his resignation–and that of his government–to President Hadi, who himself resigned soon thereafter.

We’ve also explored the origins and rise of the Houthi movement on previous episodes of our Mafraj Radio Podcast:

9/16/2014: “President Hadi vs. Ansar Allah” On this episode we discussed the protest campaign that preceded the Houthis’ military capture of San‘a, with pro-Houthi activist Alhossain Albokhaiti and journalist Peter Salisbury.

2/27/13: “The Rise of Anti-state Movements” On our first episode we spoke with scholar Madeleine Wells Goldburt and journalist Adam Baron about the origins of the Houthi movement, the six-year armed conflict between the movement and the state, and Ansar Allah’s consolidation of power in Yemen’s far north and beyond. The segment on Ansar Allah begins at 11 minutes, and is preceded by an exploration of the Southern independence movement.

Have questions about the Houthi movement or the current crisis in Yemen? Talk to us on Facebook or Twitter; we're always happy hear from our readers.

*Because the mainstream media almost unanimously use the spelling "Houthi," and I want our blog posts to appear in search results, I'm abandoning my long-standing practice of using the simpler "Huthi" spelling as of today. The old spelling will persist in our archives.