Explained: Houthis and the war in Yemen, in which Indian lives have now been lost

What is the news?

A suspected drone attack in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates(UAE) has caused multiple explosions in which three people were killed — two Indians and one Pakistani. The attack was claimed by the Houthi rebels of Yemen.

Note: Yemen is located at the junction of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, and its coastline commands the strategic strait of Bab al-Mandab. The country has been under civil war for more than seven years now and the Houthis control the western part of Yemen including capital Sana’a.
Who are Houthis, and why is there a war in Yemen?

Houthis are a large clan belonging to the Zaidi Shia sect. Zaidis make up around 35% of Yemen’s population.

The Zaidis ruled over Yemen for over a thousand years until 1962 when they were overthrown. In 2004, the Houthis began an insurgent movement against the Yemeni government.

In 2012, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been Yemen’s president, was forced to step down in the wake of the Arab Spring protests. He was succeeded by his vice-president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

In 2015, Saleh aligned himself with the Houthis against Hadi, and they captured Sana’a. Due to this, the president fled to Aden and subsequently to Saudi Arabia.

In 2017, Saleh broke his alliance with the Houthis, and crossed over to the side of the Saudis, the UAE, and President Hadi. After this, Saleh was assassinated.

Why are Saudi and UAE involved in the Yemen Civil war?

In 2015, ​​nine-nation coalition led by Saudi Arabia with the support of the United States began a bombing campaign against the Houthis. The air attacks were in support of Hadi’s forces.

The intervention was due to a fundamental power struggle — between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Saudi Arabia and Western Countries believe that the Houthis are backed militarily and financially by the regime in Iran.

However, the coalition has made only limited progress since then as the Houthis remain in power in Sana’a and a humanitarian catastrophe has unfolded in Yemen.

Source: This post is based on the article ‘Explained: Houthis and the war in Yemen, in which Indian lives have now been lost’ published in Indian Express on 20th January 2022.

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