Yemen’s Ansar Allah Movement (Houthis): What Is It?

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Yemen's Ansar Allah Movement (Houthis): What Is It?

The Ansar Allah Movement was founded in 1992 under the name of “Faithful Youth Movement”. The movement’s followers are known as the Houthis, named after the founder of the movement Badr al-Din al-Houthi, who is considered its religious leader. While many believe that the Houthis are Shiites, they are in fact from the Zaydi faith, which is fundamentally different from the Shiite faith. The Zaydis in Yemen are of Hashemite origins.

One of the main reasons behind the establishment of the movement by Badr al-Din al-Houthi is the marginalization and persecution by the Yemeni governments of the Hashemites and Zaydis where the Hashemites were expelled from all important positions in the country after the establishment of the Republic of Yemen. In addition, Badr al-Din al-Houthi established the movement out of fear of the disappearance of the Zaidi doctrine, especially after many Zaydis converted to the Sunni faith following great persecutions by the Yemeni governments.

Sa’ada is the main center of Ansar Allah which now has between 300 and 500 thousand members many of whom are fighters. The heavy shelling of Sa’ada by the several right-wing parties during the civil wars in Yemen led most of the population to join the the Ansar Allah movement. Badr al-Din al-Houthi died on November 25, 2010, and his successor in the leadership is his son Abdul Malik al-Houthi.

Despite the movement’s adoption of the slogan “Death to America”, the movement has never gone against the American interests in the region, nor did it plan at any time to target US forces. On its behalf. the United States does not regard Ansar Allah a terrorist organization and had tried to push the Yemeni government to give the Zaydis their rights prior to 2011. After the outbreak of the Saudi-Yemeni war in 2014, the United States sided with Saudi Arabia, but still regards al-Qaeda and ISIS as the only terrorist organizations in Yemen.

Regardless of the claims that Ansar Allah is an Iranian Shiite movement, the movement is not Shiite. There are major differences between the Shiites and Yazidis. The movement also denies any direct links to Iran or Iranian intelligence as well. Moreover, despite claims by the Yemeni government and the U.S. and Saudi intelligence sources that the movement of Ansar Allah was in contact with Iranian intelligence services on several occasions, these parties did not provide any evidence.

Yemeni President Abdullah Mansour Hadi announced in 2009 that members of the Ansar Allah were arrested for working as spies for the Iranian intelligence, however, he did not present any evidence to prove his claim. These defendants were released when the Yemeni court proved their innocence.

Iran hasn’t denied those claims and is using them in propaganda campaigns in the Arab region. It is also believed that Ansar Allah has received some financial support and arms from Iran since 2009.

In 2004, the first clashes between Ansar Allah and the Yemeni government began after the Yemeni government demanded that Ansar Allah must hand over donations from their supporters in Sa’ada and several other areas. Thus, the limited clashes began and continued sporadically between 2004 and 2011 for various reasons.

The most important of these small wars were the following:

  • First War: June – September 2004
  • Second War: March – May 2005
  • Third War: November 2005 – January 2006
  • Fourth War: January – June 2007
  • Fifth War: March – July 2008.

The Houthi-Yemeni wars in many cases ended in political agreements. However, in the sixth war from August 2009 to February 2010, the crisis expanded as Saudi Arabia intervened against the Houthis.  The war began when the Yemeni Army launched an operation on August 11, 2011 under the name “Scorched Earth Operation” against the Houthis in Sa’ada. In the early days of the war, 80 civilians, supporters of the Ansar Allah movement, were killed. The Houthis attacked the Saudi border positions where they accused Saudi Arabia of allowing the Yemeni Army to use its land and border positions to attack them in Sa’ada.

On November 5, 2009 the Saudi Army and the Saudi Air Force began a bombing campaign in Sa’ada and targeted Ansar Allah fighters. However, Ansar Allah managed to advance and capture 46 Saudi villages in Jizan and Najran inside Saudi territory, causing important losses to the Saudi Army and managed to kill 133 Saudi soldiers within days.

A political agreement was reached to withdraw Ansar Allah from the Saudi villages and Sa’ada. The clashes ended on February 12, 2010. The withdrawal of the Houthis and the Yemeni army, allowed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to enter Sa’ada.

In 2014, the clashes resumed following provocations by extremist Saudi religious organizations such as the Sunni Yemeni Wissal to fight Ansar Allah. Through Saudi provocations, the forces of Sheikh Hussein al-Ahmar and the Osaimat tribe cut off the road between Sa’ada and Sana’a and began to persecute the Houthis. Ansar Allah quickly attacked Amran, the center of the Osaimat tribe and Al Ahmar.

The Yemeni Army maintained its neutrality during the violent clashes, which ended with an agreement between the Houthis and the Osaimat to reopen the road. However the agreement failed due to Saudi provocations and the Houthis managed to capture Amran on July 8, 2014.

Abdul Malik al-Houthi called on the Yemenis to protest in Sanaa against the increase of the fuel prices, where heavy clashes broke out in Hamdan, north of Sanaa, during which 32 civilians were killed. The Houthis began military actions to capture the capital and managed to do so on September 21, 2014. A national government to include all parties led by Khalid Bahah was formed.

Yemen's Ansar Allah Movement (Houthis): What Is It?

Hadi did not abide by the agreement which resulted in the Houthis attacking his home and government headquarters on January 19, 2015, and capturing it without any resistance. They also captured all the Yemeni Army bases. Most of the Yemeni Army divisions supported the Housthis, most notably the Republican Guard. Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh supported Ansar Allah as well.

Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia. On March 25, 2015 Saudi Arabia, along with other Arab countries, the most important of which was the UAE, and with direct American support, launched operation “Decisive Storm” to return Hadi to power on the pretext that he was the legitimate president. Despite the heavy bombardment, the Saudi coalition was unable to recapture Sanaa city. In addition, Saudi Arabia imposed a land and sea blockade on the areas captured by Ansar Allah.

The end of Operation “Al-Hazm Storm” was announced on April 21, 2015 and on the same day the Saudi coalition launched Operation “Restore Hope”. The bombing continued without the Saudi alliance achieving any real gains on the ground.

The Saudi military intervention strengthened al-Qaeda’s influence in Yemen again, and ISIS managed to capture many areas in northeastern Yemen. The siege has led to severe shortages of food and famine in some areas. Diseases and epidemics such as cholera have spread, and the Saudi coalition bombings have resulted in the killing of large numbers of civilians, most notably of which was the bombing of a funeral hall on October 8, 2016 in Sana’a by Saudi warplanes, killing 140 civilians and wounding 525 others.

The Saudi Air Force used British-made cluster bombs against the civilian areas. It is believed that the Saudi coalition used heavy or prohibited weapons against civilians, especially American, British and Canadian-made. Although Britain has raised some restrictions against the export of arms to Saudi Arabia, Canada and the United States have still not done that.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has refused any political solution, although the Yemeni parties have reached several agreements to end the war. The Saudi coalition, however, has always worked to thwart any political agreement or ceasefire agreement through provocative bombardments.

Since the beginning of 2017, with the increase of ISIS influence in Yemen, some Saudi-UAE disagreements have begun to emerge in Yemen, especially after the Yemeni forces, backed directly by the UAE, seized the Aden International Airport and expelled the Saudi-backed forces from it in May 2017.

With the increasing complexity of the crisis in Yemen and the increase in the number of parties, it is widely believed that the Saudi alliance will not achieve any of its objectives in Yemen, and that they’ll continue the military intervention only to provoke Iran.

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  • Rodney Loder

    Haven’t seen Hadi making the headlines lately, I think that’s because he West has a split its progressive movement Hillary took the hippies and Trump got the anarchists, Hadi is a bottom feeding democratic erotic massage that now seems to be in no man’s land.

    • Samuel Boas

      What the hell are you talking about. You always place complete and utter nonsense comments here that have absolutely nothing to do with the topic.

      • Rodney Loder

        Why pick on me when the SouthFront can’t even spell Houthis consistently right, about the 12th. paragraph down just under the Houthis holding up the red and green sign, starts off talking about when they captured Hadi then let him escape January 19, so all these things to properly complain about and you pick on me, I would never spell Houthis wrong and if I captured Hadi he certainly wouldn’t escape

    • Ted

      It makes perfect sense, and is one of the few comments that adds something to the discussion. Not to mention is paramount to the topic at hand. It is however far to difficult as it does not include the alternate reality of the South front community in which the West and its politics have no hand in the affairs of the middle east due to Russian Superiority both financial and militarily.
      Perhaps in the future if you were to go less with comments that require thought and supported the alternate universe in which they live you would find less resistance.
      Yemen may yet survive because of what you say, the anarchists have found bigger fish in North Korea and the hippies have their Oscar from the white helmets movie! Nothing really left in Syria or the middle east, unless they can get Iran back to the top of the list.

      • Rodney Loder

        Agreed, I came to SouthFront initially because of Yemen and I now think it will survive, Sana News Agency is named after Sana Yemen maybe Pan Arab can make a come back now and reach out over all the artifical barriers, and our societies can declar our experience with hedonism was a trap with some new form of culture that is not obvious at the moment programmed to take its place, what we really need is a new supply of Virgins to instill a new dream, but I don’t know where they are going to come from.

  • MeThinks

    Uh, Shiite translates into partisan
    there shiite,different

  • MeThinks

    coincidently I heard Shiites dony exsist in Turkey and are instead counted as Sunni

  • MeThinks

    Wernt these guys or types labeled Shiite 1st prior to the persians adopying the cause of Ali labeled Shia as well

  • Kata Kalan

    As a Ithna Asheri (Twelver) Shia I’d like to say this: the Zaydis are culturally and jurisprudentially actually Sunnis, but politically with Iran.

    The northern Yemenis (the Zaydis) have actually been the rulers of Yemen for thousands of years. Even before the birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAW).

    Yemen has historically NEVER been conquered militarily. The Romans failed (they called it “Arabia Felix” – Happy Arabia), the British Failed (they were humiliated in South Yemen), the Ottomans failed (they could only control some coastal parts, and even that with Yemeni permission)….and the Wahhabi/Zio coalition is now currently failing.

    The only 3 powers to have controlled are (all non-militarily by the way):

    1. Prophet Sulaiman/Soloman (AS), who gained control over Yemen by marrying their Queen: Sheba/Saba.

    2. The Iranians, who were invited by the Yemenis (pre-Islam).

    3. Muslims. Right after Rasoolullah (SAWAW)’s successful entrance into Makkah shareef, Imam Ali (as) was sent to Yemen to bring them into the Islamic fold.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d008dbfadec68c5808c9955c72e49b0b603d801c6cb5ad4495447711e277ed09.png

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/511e7ad6d547455d1c4c8eea026a2d304ef3701ae32b128f4a7d9cad38d58968.jpg

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/991fa39328c636c35f753ca2fc4baff10e6522da261092de7df8ddae67a87d3a.jpg

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f543d5e8b9a9189e90c9b753122cb870c6aa7775b9fdebbe6ba8b650e8a78c80.jpg

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c8f0599983b12e84e077e87fabe0fa996adb82aaf278a36f3d4c85f5d3149faa.png

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f179b68f7db8e3f9d6892f8dcc196560b03b3e9bd1944501792a8c734af1d7bb.jpg

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7df793f85ff80dd4d61fabef47194585e930223d5950d82101891893bac14384.jpg

  • hvaiallverden

    Yemen, have an history witch is remarkable and ancient, Sana is an ex. of staggering architecture, in an semi-desert environment.

    I have read about Yemen many times, since I like History, and it saddens me, because I know of few people with an reputation that matched the Yemenite, hospitality and mutual respect, an good natured people.
    They have my deepest respect, not for an moment will I forget our fight and kick those that deserves it, any time, any where.
    You fight is just, the cause by all definitions legit, by religion, the duty of an true Yemenite as to anyone else fighting for their people and home land..

    May the lord continue to bless you, and shine the light on the path to wisdom, peace and freedom.

    peace

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  • Don’t read butthurt replies

    What’s wrong with their face?

    • They are chewing khat. A tradition has a history as a social custom dating back hundreds of years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khat

      • DNA Yemen

        Qat is the best tradition ever… In Yemen we chew Qat in every occasion, wedding , funeral and even when we fight.

  • DNA Yemen

    Yemen Conflict is not taking much attention from the world that’s why we say ” The Forgotten War”. People of Yemen are living one of the worst humanitarian crisis. Starvation, lack of medicine, diseases and epidemics such as cholera. But we still fight those Saudi bastards for our freedom and our dignity. Thank you @@disqus_hXrQz1OKSR:disqus for your reports and map about Yemen while the others preferred the Saudi dirty money and shut the mouths.

  • DNA Yemen

    Your saying that our slogan is death to America but we don’t fight them and they do not consider us as a terrorist group. That’s right we are not a terrorist group or movement we fight for our country form the American proxies, thus we say death to America and we mean it but till now there is not an open front with the Americans but we are fighting their proxies such as Saudi Arabia and their mercenaries (Black Water , dyn military group) Not to forget we are fighting more than 13 country.