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Yemen Civil War - 2014

Following the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) that ended on 25 January 2014, a constitutional referendum was scheduled for September 2014, parliamentary elections were slated for April 2015, and a one-year extension for President Abdrabu Mansour Hadi was agreed by NDC participants upon its conclusion.

During the "Six Wars" period [2004-2009] the Houthis had given a good account of themselves in battle, while the Yemeni army's peformance left much to be desired. But the Houthis demonstrated no larger ambitions. This changed in 2014, as the Houthis began to take over the entire country. Presumably this was due to an alliance between the Houthis and elements of the ousted Saleh government. The ease with which the Houthis advanced was probably due in no small measure to the acquiecence of the Yemeni military, which for the most part remained loyal to Saleh. Greater support from Iran may have also play a part, but clear evidence for this is lacking.

Yemen's president accused Iran of provoking unrest in his country as Shi'ite Houthi rebels advanced on the capital Sana'a in late August 2014. Yemen's President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi claimed in a statement that Iran was trying to “trade Sana'a for the Syrian capital, Damascus,” a reference to Iranian support for Syria's Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war. Rebel leader Abdel Malik al Houthi demanded this week that the government resign and a new government be appointed. He also insisted that the government back down on a recent decision to raise fuel prices. The Houthi rebels were trying to assert themselves as the most powerful political force in Yemen. Their main goal is to ensure that they control the policy making of Yemen. It is not a secret that the Iranians have been helping the Houthis for years.

The Houthis held protests outside government buildings and on the outskirts of the capital for nearly a month. They demanded the appointment of a new government and territorial concessions for their northern enclave, including a possible port on the Red Sea. Rebel advances in several places prompted the closure of the capital's main airport on 18 September 2014, and most phone and Internet service wasn cut. Houthi rebels attacked Yemeni government forces in parts of the capital, Sana'a, paralyzing traffic and forcing residents to remain indoors for hours. The rebels fired mortar rounds at the government TV station, disrupting its broadcasts. More than 40 people were killed in clashes overnight as rebel Houthi gunmen took over police and military patrol points in several parts of the city.

Tension rose in Yemen since the Houthis seized the capital city of Sanaa in September 2014 and escalated to near-civil war proportions when the rebels captured the central city of Taiz in March 2015. The conflict in Yemen additionally had a profound impact on Saudi Arabia’s regional politics, and readily lent itself to a proxy-war battlefield for rivaling Saudi Arabia and Iran. Furthermore, a Shia group’s advancement in Yemen would increase the perceived threat of Iranian influence moving into Saudi Arabia’s backyard.

Condemning the actions of the Houthis in Yemen who overran the city of Amran and the army headquarters there on 08 July 2014, the UN Security Council on 29 August 2014 called on the faction to withdraw, cease hostilities in the area and remove camps and checkpoints around the country's capital, Sana'a. It also expressed grave concern about the deterioration of security in Yemen in light of the actions taken in the north and around the capital by the Houthis in what it called "their escalating campaign to bring down the Government" and called on all armed groups to refrain from any action that might exacerbate the situation.

Shi'ite rebels in Yemen celebrated with fireworks in the capital of Sana'a on 22 September 2014, 24 hours after signing a peace deal with the president to expand their political role. Despite the agreement, the Houthis, also known as Ansarallah, spent the day raiding the homes of their opponents and establishing a hefty armed presence throughout the city in what one expert called a "half-coup." Weeks of clashes in the capital left hundreds of people dead. Representatives of the main political parties, including a wing of the southern separatist Herak group, the Houthis and the Islamist Islah party signed the accord.

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Page last modified: 26-03-2015 19:29:51 ZULU