Tag Archives: Houthi Rebels

Crisis in Yemen Escalates As Houthi Rebels Claim to Have Shot Down Moroccan Fighter Jet

On Sunday, Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen agreed to a five-day humanitarian cease fire starting Tuesday with Saudi coalition forces, who are intervening in Yemen’s civil war between Saudi-backed and recently deposed Sunni Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Houthi rebels representing the nation’s Shiite minority. However, hostilities appear to have escalated today amid reports cited by Reuters that a Moroccan F-16 fighter jet disappeared during a Saudi Arabia led mission in Yemen’s Saada province. Military officials in Morocco, one of 9 nations supporting Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen, said, “One of the F-16s of the Royal Armed Force put at the disposal of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia to restore the legitimacy in Yemen went missing on Sunday at 6 p.m. local time.”

Meanwhile, BBC News notes that Houthi-controlled Al-Masirah TV reported today that the plane was shot down by rebels as it flew over Saada province. Saudi Arabian coalition forces, backed by the United States, have been pummeling Saada with an intense bombing campaign over the past three days. Analysts cited by BBC News said that the Saudi coalition appears to be intensifying its attacks in order to cause as much destruction as possible prior to the start of the temporary ceasefire, scheduled Tuesday in an effort to allow humanitarian groups to assist civilians caught in the crossfire. Saudi Arabia previously agreed to send $274 million in humanitarian aid to civilians in Yemen through international human rights groups.

If the reports that the plane has been shot down are true, the downed aircraft would represent the first plane from Saudi Arabia’s coalition to be shot down during the intervention.

“The violent explosions can be heard from anywhere in the city and we feel they could land on our heads. We’re living a life of terror,” said Sanaa resident Ahmed Fawaz, describing civilian life amid Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign in comments to Reuters.

Houthi media director Nasruddin Amer said, according to The Wall Street Journal, “It is our right to shoot down any military plane if they violate the Yemeni airspace.”

Saudi Arabia began sending tanks to the Yemeni border on Monday, raising fears of an imminent ground invasion. Saudi coalition spokesperson Brigadier General Ahmed Aseeri denied that the tank strike force was intended to be part of a wider ground invasion and said that the tanks are just refreshing Saudi Arabia’s defenses. “In professional armies, you cannot maintain the same troops for a long time in the field. You have to renew and change your troops,” he said.

“Americans Don’t Know What The Hell Is Happening In Yemen” says Activist

Washington, D.C.- Hundreds of Yemeni civilians have found themselves in the crossfire of the Saudi-led bombing campaign that is in its second month, while Yemeni-Americans watch in desperation at the brutality taking place.

The Saudi’s are bombing the largest cities in Yemen in an attempt to destroy gains made by Houthi rebels who are overthrowing the government of Yemen. The Saudis claim that the Houthis are a proxy force fighting on behalf of Iran, even though the Houthis are a native tribal group from Yemen.

Since March 26, 2015, more than 750 Yemenis have been killed by Saudi airstrikes, over 2,500 have been injured and more than 150,000 people have been displaced. None of that reflects the incredible destruction to the nation’s infrastructure as more than 12 million Yemenis are facing food and water shortages.

Ben Swann speaks with Yemeni activist Rabyaah Al-thaibani about the plight of the country’s citizens and their struggle for survival.

Yemen’s Houthis Are No Iran Proxy

Shi’ite Militia Has Roots in Domestic Politics

by Jason Ditz, March 31, 2015

Declaring their war against the Houthis of Yemen last week, Saudi Arabia has presented the conflict as a sort of noble intervention, aiming to displace an Iranian proxy from power in favor of the internationally accepted, if not legitimately elected, President Hadi.

Yet the history of the Houthis shows that, far from an invention of Iran, their origins were entirely domestic in nature, a backlash against the political corruption that has defined the nation for decades. WikiLeaks documents from the US State Department underscore this history.

The Houthi movement has its origins in the 1993 parliamentary elections. Longtime dicator Ali Abdullah Saleh’s GPC party won a plurality, but in trying to ensure a weakened opposition Saleh negotiated a deal with Hussein al-Houthi, a powerful member of the opposition al-Haq Party. Houthi was to distance himself from Haq and back the GPC in return for support from the ruling party.

Houthi did as he was asked, and was stabbed in the back in the 1997 election, when Saleh’s office heavily campaigned against him, costing him his seat in parliament. Out of office, Hussein decided to travel abroad to complete his doctorate.

He returned in 2001, and quickly became an influential religious leader, aiming to unite the various independent clerics of Zaidi Shi’ism under a single banner. Successful in this, he began publicly condemning Saleh as a US puppet, while harshly condemning the US invasion of Iraq.

By 2004, the Yemeni military was moving against Houthi and his followers, and Hussein was killed on September 10, 2004, putting a temporary end to hostilities.

Hussein’s father, Badr al-Din Houthi started an uprising in 2005, and his brother Abdul Malik Houthi started an even bigger one in 2007. Their demands centered around equal treatment for their homeland, around Sadaa, which always got the short end of infrastructure investment.

By 2009 the region was in full-scale war, with Saleh vowing to defund public schools and all other basic social spending to pay for weapons to wipe the Houthis out.

Saleh often accused the Houthis of being an Iran proxy, though the US State Department confirmed that this was not the case, and indeed that the Houthis were arming themselves almost entirely through the black market, and purchase of arms from the Yemeni military itself.

With interests largely domestic (and often not even nationwide) and religion never more than tangentially related to their ideology, the Houthis never made sense as allies to Iran. The Zaidi brand of Shi’a Islam isn’t even particularly close to Iran’s own version, and Hussein Houthi’s opposition to the Iraq War, which benefited Iran greatly, reflects how very different the two are.

The Houthis were largely defeated in 2009, though they began to reassert themselves in 2011 during the Arab Spring. This was temporarily calmed by the 2012 ouster of Saleh and his replacement, in a single candidate “vote,” by General Hadi.

Hadi followed through on attempts to weaken the Houthis by implanting Sunni Islamist factions into the Sadaa area, which led to another war in 2014. This time, the Houthis won outright, and marched on the capital city of Sanaa. Here too, they were victorious.

The takeover of the capital set the stage for on-again, off-again battles with Hadi, and the Houthis were pushing heavily for constitutional reforms and free elections, a point on which Hadi resigned in January of 2015.

His resignation lasted a few weeks, then Hadi declared himself unresigned, moving to Aden and vowing to take the country. When the Houthis routed him yet again, Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia, and courted their military intervention to ensure his rule.

Never has serious evidence of Iranian involvement been seen, and the new claims that loyalists to Saleh are fighting alongside the Houthis are strange indeed, given their history of acrimony.

If Iran gets involved in the Houthi-Saudi war at all, it is because of their regional rivalry with the Saudis, as both sides are keen to wound the other when the opportunity presents itself. To this day, however, the Houthis maintain they have no ties with Iran, and intend to defend the country by themselves.

Saudi Arabia Targets Houthi Rebels with Air Strikes As Yemen Implodes into Civil War

The free-fall collapse of Yemen’s US-and-Saudi-Arabia-backed regime seems to be escalating from a civil war into a regional conflict, as Saudi Arabia began amassing military assets on the border to Yemen Tuesday and initiated a series of intense air strikes against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen on Wednesday. The United States recently pulled troops and diplomatic staff out of Yemen as Shiite Houthi rebels, backed by troops loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, rapidly deposed Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled Aden and went into hiding in neighboring Djibouti.

The New York Times notes that the Houthi rebels took the Al Anad air base, which had been used by US counter-terrorism troops up until their recent evacuation, and subsequently launched air strikes with stolen Yemeni Air Force planes against Hadi’s home. This follows reports that Yemeni insurgents have likely obtained $500 million worth of US weapons that had been donated to Hadi’s regime in an effort to fight al-Qaeda terrorists in the region.

With Hadi on the run and Iranian-backed Shiite rebels threatening to conquer Yemen, a majority Sunni nation, neighboring Sunni superpower Saudi Arabia has officially made the decision to intervene, launching air strikes on an airport and air base near Sanaa, Yemen’s Houthi-overrun capital. The above-embedded Inform video footage points out the fact that Saudi Arabian officials say that the nation, backed by a coalition of 10 allies, is ready to send as many as 150,000 troops into Yemen. Sudan, Pakistan, and Jordan have also offered to contribute ground troops to Saudi Arabia’s attacks in Yemen, and Egypt is rumored to be considering joining the effort. US officials said that the Saudi Arabian bombing campaign was bolstered by logistical and intelligence support from the United States. Early reports place the death toll caused by the Saudi strikes at 13.

Meanwhile, Iran has condemned Saudi Arabia’s intervention, setting up a likely proxy war, as Iran is a rumored benefactor of the Houthi rebels’ assault on the Hadi regime. Anger over US drone strikes has been cited as a spark that contributed to the genesis of the Houthi uprising.

As the conflict widens throughout the region, al-Qaeda and ISIS lurk beneath the surface, working to capitalize on the chaos by launching attacks on the Houthi rebels in an attempt to occupy the power vacuum created by Hadi’s de-facto self-imposed exile.