Yemen has recently exploded with violence, as the predominately Shi’i militia known as “Houthis” stormed the Presidential Palace in the nation’s capital of Sanaa and captured the surrounding area before entering the premises. The news of Houthis’ success comes 24 hours after they seized the state-controlled television station; this strategic location paved the way for the rebels to infiltrate into the nearby Presidential Palace.
Sources close to Al-Masdar News have revealed that President ‘Abd-Raba’ Al-Mansour Hadi was inside the Presidential Palace during Houthis’ onslaught – he was reportedly evacuated by the Yemeni Army before their retreat from the area. Hadi originally expressed confidence in U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to combat the large presence of Al-Qaeda militants inside the country – Obama called this war on terror a “success” after Al-Qaeda was forestalled in the eastern part of the country.
Fearful that an Iranian-backed militia will be in full-control of Sanaa, the United States Navy redeployed 2 ships from the Gulf of Aden in southeast Yemen to the Red Sea port in the southwest part of the country in order to begin the evacuation of U.S government employees at their embassy in the nation’s capital.
Since the advent of this armed conflict in Yemen, the Yemeni Armed Forces have been marginalized and steadily decreasing in size. The country’s large Shia populous (40-45% of the populous) is heavily concentrated in western Yemen and strongly in support of their Zaydi Shi’i brothers from Houthis, who continue to grow in size as this conflict escalates.
Who is Houthis? The Houthis militia was founded in 1993 in the Yemeni capital by the Al-Houthi tribe. Their revolutionary commander from 1993-2004 was the famous politician and dissident, Hussein Badreddeen Al-Houthi – the name “Houthis” derives from the last name “Al-Houthi.” Hussein Al-Houthi was killed in 2004 and as a result, the group began to expand exponentially. Their allure comes from their Zaydi Shi’i principles that descend from the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, “Hussein Ibn ‘Ali.
Houthis is not a small force; there are approximately 120,000 well-trained and well-armed fighters that possess weapons from the Islamic Republic of Iran. They are now in control almost all of the western countryside of Yemen, with their fiercest resistance coming from the Al-Qaeda militants attacking them from the southeast. According to a source in the region, Houthis should be in complete of the capital in the coming months, as the Yemeni Army is unable to withstand their overwhelming numbers.