Tag: Houthis

About the Houthis and the Saudi War on Yemen

The war in Yemen has most often been described to us either as a civil war between the government of Yemen and its supporters, and a Houthi tribal militia. It is also represented as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia backing the Sunni government of Yemen and Iran backing a Shia insurgency led by the Houthis, a Zaydi tribe from northern Yemen.   Neither description is entirely accurate.   To understand what is happening in Yemen, it is useful to understand the factions who are fighting, and specifically, the Houthis.

The ‘correct’ title of the political movement we call the Houthis is Ansarullah.   They are not a tribal organization but rather a revolutionary movement. They are also not a Shia movement.   Zaydi Islam, though referred to by the Saudis as a Shia Islam, is in practice, much closer to Sunnism and in the north of Yemen, Sunni and Zaydi often worship in the same mosque.   In fact, Ansarullah, the group we know as the Houthis, has broad popular support because they espouse populist values.

The reason Ansarullah came to be called Houthis is that in 2004, they informally took the name of Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, who died while fighting in an insurrection against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.   Al Houthi was so beloved that the members of the organization began to call themselves ‘Houthis’ or ‘the Houthi Movement’.   But you may ask, why was a Houthi leading this movement and in what context did they emerge?

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21 Talking Points on US Backed War in Yemen (Updated with Context and PDF)

I prepared the Fact Sheet below to distribute at a film being shown at the High Falls Film Festival.   ‘Yemeniettes‘, a documentary film made by a Lebanese film company, follows a group of teenage girls who win a regional science contest from their enthusiastic invention to a local contest in Sana’a and then on to Doha, and then through the events that follow their winning this international contest.  It is a delightful scenario with many unspoken contradictions, Though a level of the background violence is reflected in the film it mostly focuses on these very liberal Yemeniettes with their innocent capitalist (as well as nationalist) aspirations.

Sadly, current events have overrun the context of this film and it seems unlikely there will be any more Yemeniettes (or Yemenis of any stripe)  entering,  much less winning, regional science contests any time in the foreseeable future.  This is pertinent because the United States is providing all kinds of support to our Saudi allies in their war effort.   If you enjoy this film, you should understand that.

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  1. This US backed, Saudi led campaign is an intrusion into the internal politics of Yemen
  2. This US backed, Saudi led campaign has embroiled Yemen in an unnecessary civil war
  3. The US backed, Saudi War against Yemen constitutes a Crime Against Peace and is the site of numerous War Crimes

We in the US are complicit in the Saudi crimes against the People of Yemen!

 

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Yemen Crisis: Trapped American – Freed Hostage

I wasn’t following this story in real time, but when it came to my attention today, the irony was too poignant to ignore.   A friend just sent me the content of an post from  Journalist Casey Coombs on the First Look, Intercept website.on May 4.   It is called “Stuck In Yemen: A Personal History“.  In the article, Coombs describes being stranded in Sana’a during the Saudi bombing campaign because the United States decided not to rescue US nationals in the country.

On April 30, the U.S. State Department posted updated information for Americans in Yemen with this printed in bold: “There are no plans for a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of U.S. citizens at this time.  If you wish to depart Yemen, you should stay alert for other opportunities to leave the country.” 

So there he is.  Abandoned in a war zone.  Fortunately, the locals are friendly, including the Houthis guarding a nearby outpost..

A month later, he is an American Hostage of the Houthis, freed by the Sultan of Oman.

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