Why Everyone’s Talking About the Houthis Lately

Why Everyone’s Talking About the Houthis Lately

Intro - The Believing Youth (00:00:00)

  • The Houthis, led by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, began as a religious movement in Yemen but later became a militia.
  • They opposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh's cooperation with the US in the war on terror, which radicalized the movement.
  • After al-Houthi's death in 2004, the Houthis continued fighting against the Yemeni government and gained control of large parts of northern Yemen, leading to the ongoing civil war.
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The Houthi Rebellion (00:06:06)

  • The Houthis rebelled against Yemen's government from their northern strongholds.
  • They fought a guerrilla campaign, blending with civilians and hiding in mountains and caves.
  • As the conflict intensified, more tribes joined the Houthis due to perceived excessive military force.
  • The Houthis invaded Saudi Arabia, leading to Saudi airstrikes and troop deployment.
  • Iran saw an opportunity to support the Houthis against their rival, Saudi Arabia.
  • Saudi Arabia claims to have intercepted an Iranian ship carrying weapons and trainers to the Houthis.
  • The extent of Iran's support for the Houthis remains unclear.
  • A branch of Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia fled to Yemen and merged with the local branch.
  • They formed AQAP, one of the most dangerous and well-funded versions of Al-Qaeda.
  • AQAP aimed to establish a strict Islamic state and wage holy war against foreigners.
  • This put them at odds with both the Yemeni government and the Houthis.
  • The region underwent significant changes around 2011.

The Arab Spring (00:08:17)

  • Arab Spring: Public anger and demands for change led to uprisings in several countries.
  • Iran and Saudi Arabia saw an opportunity to gain allies in the region by strategically choosing sides.
  • Yemen was one of the countries experiencing an uprising against the corrupt dictator, President Saleh.
  • The Houthis, a group fighting for years against Saleh's regime, took advantage of the infighting and gained strength.
  • They received support from Iran in the form of training, missiles, drones, and other advanced weapons.
  • In 2014, the Houthis marched into southern Yemen and captured significant territory.
  • Former President Saleh joined forces with the Houthis, helping them take the capital city of Sana'a.
  • President Hadi and his government fled to Saudi Arabia as the Houthis gained control of the capital.
  • The Houthis established an oppressive regime in the capital, silencing free speech, crushing dissent, and recruiting child soldiers.
  • They imposed strict religious laws that undermined women's rights.
  • Saudi Arabia became concerned as their southern neighbor was now controlled by a group funded by their main rival, Iran.

War with Saudi Arabia (00:11:21)

  • The Houthis, a rebel group in Yemen, seized the capital city Sana'a in 2014, prompting Saudi Arabia and its allies to intervene militarily to reinstate the internationally recognized government.
  • The Saudi-led coalition, backed by the United States, launched airstrikes and imposed a naval blockade on Yemen to cut off support from Iran, which was accused of backing the Houthis.
  • The war escalated, with Al-Qaeda and ISIS exploiting the chaos to expand their presence in Yemen.
  • The Houthis launched attacks on Saudi Arabia, leading to retaliatory airstrikes and ground operations by the Saudi-led coalition, resulting in a humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
  • Despite international efforts for a ceasefire, the war continued, with the Houthis escalating their offensive by directly targeting Saudi Arabia with missiles and drones.
  • In 2017, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates attempted to reinstate former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, but he was killed in fighting with the Houthis shortly after switching sides.
  • The United States, under President Trump, intensified drone strikes and raids against Al-Qaeda in Yemen, aiding government forces in reclaiming territory.
  • The US continues to approve arms sales to Saudi Arabia despite evidence of war crimes committed using American weapons in the Yemen conflict.
  • In 2018, the conflict evolved as the UAE, part of the Saudi-led coalition, began to lose confidence in the war effort.

A New Front in the War (00:16:07)

  • The UAE leaves the Saudi coalition and starts backing the Southern Transitional Council (STC) in southern Yemen.
  • The STC separatists take control of southern provinces, fracturing the Saudi coalition.
  • Al-Qaeda and its militia allies are still fighting to control small slices of the country.
  • The US continues to conduct airstrikes against Al-Qaeda and ISIS while supporting and selling more weapons to the Saudi coalition.
  • Saudi Arabia and the UAE convince the government of Yemen and the separatists in the south to form a new coalition to fight against the Houthis.

A New Status Quo (00:18:41)

  • Saudi Arabia and Iran have been in diplomatic talks, sponsored by China, leading to a cooling of regional tensions and their proxy war in Yemen.
  • President Hadi resigns and hands power over to a council to govern Yemen and manage the war.
  • The ceasefire set in April 2022 mostly holds, even without a new agreement.
  • Saudi Arabia and Iran officially restore their diplomatic relations, with Saudi Arabia hoping Iran will stop supporting the Houthis.
  • The Saudi maritime blockade around Yemen continues, making life difficult for millions.

The Houthis Today (00:19:51)

  • The Houthis are an Iranian-backed group in Yemen.
  • They launched drones and cruise missiles into southern Israel in response to Israel's invasion of Gaza.
  • The Houthis also started firing missiles and drones at cargo ships traveling through the Red Sea, disrupting global trade.
  • In response, the US and UK took military action against the Houthis, further escalating the conflict.
  • Proxy wars are conflicts where geopolitical rivals use their neighbors as battlefields instead of fighting each other directly.
  • Proxy wars can escalate local conflicts to the entire country or region, leaving violence and power vacuums in their wake.
  • These power vacuums are often filled by bad actors who take advantage of the instability.
  • Proxy wars can lead to border changes, destroyed cities, and ruined lives.

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