Who are the Houthis?

There has been a coup-d’etat in Yemen by the Houthis, a Shi’ite tribe from the north of the country.  The Houthis are named after Hussein al-Houthi who in 2004 started a Shi’ite revolutionary group, that opposed the government and the army, and he was then captured and assassinated.  The movement that then grew named for him recently took  over Sana’a, the capital, and first besieged the President in his home and then forced him to resign with his whole cabinet.  Then they took over the government of the country.

People may not remember is that Yemen was in fact two countries North and South Yemen that joined together in 1990.  The Houthis now control was was essentially North Yemen.  Also, South Yemen included Aden which is its major port and that had been a British colony for 128 years.  So it is certainly not a unified country.  Added to the mix is that the Houthis are Shi’ite while the rest of the Yemenis are Sunni, and the eastern portion of south Yemen is now controlled by a terrorist organization that was affiliated with al Qaeda and is now loyal to the Islamic State (IS).   Since the IS and the Shia are deadly enemies, this is an explosive mixture.

There are two reasons why we should care about the Houthis take-over of Yemen, one is that they are allied with Iran and are effectively an outpost of the Iranians revolution.  The second reason is that they are situated in a particularly strategic spot of the world, that the Houthis in Yemen could effectively close the straits leading into the Red Sea.  In this way they could disrupt the flow of Arab oil to Europe as well as cut-off ships from the Israeli port of Eilat.

The Houthis are extremely anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish.  Their flag contains the slogan: God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam.  With this slogan it is clear that the Houthi take-over of Yemen is not a good thing for the West.  In fact, today the US, UK and other Western countries have closed their embassies in Sana’a.

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