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Who Are Yemeni Houthis And The Reason For Them Being Under Attack?

A combined operation against the Houthis by the USA and Britain was confirmed by Yemen. The USA and Britain are targeting the military bases of Houthis in Yemen, as the latter are blocking international trade and shipping across the Red Sea by attacking them. On Thursday, the US President, Joe Biden, clearly warned of further attacks if the Red Sea passage is not cleared by the Houthis.

Who are the Houthis?

Houthis are the followers of the Zaidi sect of Shia Islam who, while living in Yemen, started working for the revival of their religion in the 1990s. They ruled the whole of Yemen, but in their northern lands, the government started to isolate and alienate them, which led them to fight guerrilla wars against the government.

The Houthis’ war in Yemen:

Saudi Arabia, backed by the West, meddled when Sanaa was captured by Houthis in 2014. Most of northern Yemen is under Houthi control, and its government in Aden is recognized internationally. Saudi Arabia wants to end the war with the Houthis and has held a number of talks in the past too, but the Houthis’ attacks on Israel will push the peace talks back to square one.

Israel attacked by Houthis:

Nearly 15 percent of the international commerce and trade between Europe and Asia has been at a setback due to Houthis targeting the shipping routes in the Red Sea. They are doing so in order to show their support for Hamas and Palestinians, who are busy fighting against Israel in the Middle East.

The attacks are forcing the traders and the businessmen to forcefully take longer routes for shipping the goods instead of taking the short one that is through the Red Sea. Taking longer is a disadvantage as it takes more days and more fuel for products to reach the destination. This could lead to global inflation.

According to the USA, the attacks on Houthis are supported by Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands as these attacks may help in restoring free trade in the Red Sea zone.

The reasons the Houthis give for the attacks:

The reason for the Houthis attacking Israel becomes clear from their slogan which is ;”Death to America, Death to Israel, curse the Jews and victory to Islam”. Hamas, Houthis, and Hezbollah are members of the ‘Axis of Resistance’, which is an alliance of anti-Western, nowadays, in particular anti-Israel regional groups. All of them are considered to be backed by Iran.

Houthi-Iran Relations:

Arab countries often blame Iran for backing the Houthis by providing them with military support in the form of training them and supplying them with ordinance. They also accuse Hezbollah, which is openly backed by Iran, for supporting the Houthis. However, these blames are denied by the three of them. The Houthis don’t accept the charges, saying their fight is against the corrupt system, and they are not puppets of Iran.

According to experts in Yemen, although the Houthis’ political agenda somewhere overlaps with Iran or Hezbollah, the Houthis are mainly focussed on domestic issues.

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