Houthi Movement in Yemen
Yahya al-Houthi, brother of rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi stated, “We are not anti-American per se. Rest assured that we do not have any issues with the American people, but we disapprove of some of their government’s foreign policy in the Middle East. Like many people in the Middle East of all faiths, we were opposed to the US led invasion of Iraq and the subsequent killing of civilians” (Novack, 2009). The Houthis’ goals in their revolution are inherently religious, not political, focused mainly on combating the rising Salafi presence in the Northern Province of Yemen. The conflict has been ongoing since the 1990s and continues to threaten the stability of Yemen, causing periods of extremely violent clashes with the government. The Houthis are not trying to secede from Yemen. They are not at war with the American people, they are pushing back against western policy in Yemen, while also fighting for their religious beliefs to be recognized. The Houthis maintain that their goal is not to secede or overthrow the country; however, they are destabilizing the Yemeni government by stretching it thin, and forcing Yemen to fight multiple problems across the country. If left unresolved, the current state of the Houthi movement will destabilize Yemen and potentially draw in more support from other countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, which could evolve into a deadly conflict if a peaceful resolution cannot not be reached.
This paper will discuss the history of the Houthis and the Yemeni government, the regional instability it causes and implications to the United States. This paper will also discuss consequences that will ensue if these issues continue to go unresolved and there is increased involvement from outside influences (ie Iran, Saudi Arabia).
The Houthi conflict takes place mainly in the northern region of Yemen in the Sadaah Province. The initial conflict itself dates backs to the 1990s when a Houthi Faithful Youth Movement began conducting rallies in reaction to what they perceived was a marginalization of the Zaidi religion, which is a branch of Shia Islam, and a rise of influence from Saudi Wahhabism. The proportion of Houthis compared to the overall population began to decline and would continue to drop from 50 percent to almost 20 percent at one point over the past 30 years. Slowly from the late-1990s until 2004, the Yemeni government began appointing Wahhabi imams to the mosques across most of the Sadaah Province. The Houthis began to feel extreme pressure and formed their own political party to represent the movement which is called Hizb-al Haq. The Yemeni government declared that the Houthis were an Islamist movement and that their main goal was to return Yemen to an Islamic state. The Yemeni government also stated that the Houthis were anti-American fundamentalists who conducted attacks on Jewish communities in Sadaah. The Yemeni government used this messaging to garner support...