Who Are Yemen’s Houthis?

Interviewee: April Longley Alley, Senior Analyst, International Crisis Group
Interviewer: Zachary Laub, Online Writer/Editor
February 25, 2015

The seizure of power in Yemen by an armed Shia Muslim movement known as the Houthis has thrown the country into disarray and provoked concerns about further Middle East instability. “The Houthis are victims of their own success,” says April Longley Alley, a Dubai-based researcher at the International Crisis Group. After rapid advances beyond their northern base, the Houthis now face blowback as the rival al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has allied with some tribes to repulse their advances. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has perceived the ascent of the Iran-aligned Houthis on its southern border as a new front in its contest with Iran for regional dominance. These developments, Alley says, threaten to add a sectarian dimension to a political crisis that has mounted since Yemenis overthrew long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh during the Arab uprisings in 2011.

Houthi fighters ride a patrol vehicle outside a hotel hosting UN-sponsored negotiations on a political settlement for Yemen's crisis in Sanaa, February 19, 2015.Houthi fighters in Sana’a ride a patrol vehicle outside a hotel hosting UN-sponsored negotiations on a political settlement for Yemen’s crisis. (Photo: Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters) Continue reading

Terrorism Bookshelf: Top 150 Books on Terrorism and Counterterrorism


Books (Photo credit: vasta)

Vol 6, No 2 (2012)    Selected and reviewed by Joshua Sinai

Terrorist rebellions, in all their configurations, constitute first order national security threats facing the international community. This was especially the case following September 2001, when al Qaida demonstrated that it had world class ambitions to inflict catastrophic damages on its adversaries. Although substantially degraded militarily and geographically dispersed since then, al-Qaida, its affiliates and allies around the world continue to wage their insurgencies, whether localized or transnational. Of great concern is that not only have they succeeded in embedding themselves with terrorist networks that are spearheading internal conflicts in weak and failed states, such as in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, but as an ideological movement they have been able to radicalize new generations of adherents around the world using cyberspace, including social media.

In another development, terrorist targeting in other conflicts, such as the Palestinian-Israeli arena, is primarily localized against Israel, although as demonstrated by Hizballah‘s rocket guerrilla warfare against Israel in their summer 2006 war and Hamas’s firing of rockets against Israel’s southern towns since then, terrorist warfare continues to evolve, for instance, from suicide bombings to firing rockets over great distances. In other conflict zones, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorists are resorting to placing IEDs against their adversaries.

Even counterterrorism campaigns now span the spectrum of latest trends in warfare technology, from deploying specially equipped special operations forces to launching aerial drones that can remotely target terrorist operatives in far-away locations.

Moreover, the Internet has provided terrorist groups and their supporters a new virtual space to conduct activities that were previously restricted to “physical” space, such as radicalization, recruitment, fundraising, and even command and control of operations, thereby enabling them to bypass physical borders where national governments have vastly upgraded their defenses. As a result, the worldwide reach of groups such as al Qaida and its affiliates has led to what are termed “self-starter” home-grown cells in Western Europe, North America, and elsewhere, although foreign terrorist groups still retain some influence over their operations.

To gain an analytical understanding of the origins, magnitude, and evolution of the terrorist threats around the world and how to counteract them, the academic and public policy communities have produced a plethora of books on terrorism in general, the groups that engage in terrorist warfare, the extremist religious movements that drive individuals to join terrorist groups and employ terrorist tactics on their behalf, the conflict zones where such warfare is being waged, and the types of counteractions that governments are employing in response.

The books listed in this review essay are organized into seventeen sections, which are not intended to be mutually exclusive:

(i) encyclopedias and reference resources,

(ii) textbooks and general histories,

(iii) using the social, behavioral, and economic sciences to study terrorism,

(iv) journalistic case studies,

(v) case studies of terrorist groups,

(vi) root causes of terrorism,

(vii) radicalization and recruitment into terrorism,

(viii) funding terrorism,

(ix) suicide terrorism,

(x) international law and terrorism,

(xi) terrorism on the internet,

(xii) terrorism and WMD,

(xiii) counterterrorism,

(xiv) intelligence in counterterrorism,

and, under the general category of resolving terrorist rebellions,

(xv) de-radicalization and disengagement from terrorism,

(xvi) peace negotiations with terrorists, and

(xvii) how terrorist conflicts end.

Within each section, the nominated books are listed in order of their publication date.  Although the most recently published books obviously merit the most attention, the earlier published books still retain sufficient importance for inclusion in the listing. Every effort was made to list the most updated and revised editions of earlier published books.  Also, please note that the prices listed are the publishers’ official prices, with many of the books available for purchase at discounted rates at bookseller sites such as Amazon.com.

In the absence of consensus on the Romanization of Arabic names, the spelling of group names such as al Qaida have been left as published in their original title (e.g., “al Qaeda”), although the reviews spell it as “al Qaida.”

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The Parallel Revolution in Yemen

By Sasha Gordon — March 6, 2012


Yemen’s unrest has not ended with the ouster of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Yemeni Revolution instead has entered a new phase, the “Parallel Revolution,” a wave of labor strikes and protests against regime officials at state institutions and commercial enterprises across the country.[1] The dismissal of Saleh’s son-in-law Abdul Khaleq al Qadhi, the director of Yemenia Airways, on December 22, 2011 launched this second stage. The Parallel Revolution is an additional burden for the new Yemeni government, already facing challenges posed by two established opposition movements: the al Houthi rebels in northwestern Yemen and the southern secessionists. The new Yemeni government must also confront the daunting array of long-term structural problems. Moreover, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has steadily expanded its safe haven in the south over the past year through the gains of Ansar al Sharia, its insurgent arm.


American counter-terrorism strategy in Yemen has relied on local Yemeni forces and limited direct action operations to combat Ansar al Sharia and to pursue AQAP operatives with limited success. The Parallel Revolution has restricted the Yemeni government’s ability to fight these groups during an already fragile time of political transition. The new government headed by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi has pledged to continue military operations against AQAP and Ansar al Sharia. Its resources to pursue that fight are limited, however, and more exigent threats to its survival may divert its attention and assets. The Parallel Revolution poses a particular challenge in this regard because the protesters’ demands include replacing key officials within the Yemeni armed forces who are Saleh’s kin or cronies. Those demands could disrupt the continuity of operations if the new Yemeni government concedes to them, or they could generate new violence that will distract the government from the fight against AQAP if it refuses. Either way, although the demands of the Parallel Revolutionaries are eminently reasonable from an internal Yemeni standpoint, they are likely to put American counter-terrorism strategy in Yemen at risk.

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Yemen presidential election set for February 21


SANAA | Sat Nov 26, 2011 2:50pm EST

(Reuters) – Yemen’s vice president called presidential elections for February 21 on Saturday under a deal aimed at ending months of protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh that have brought the country to the edge of civil war.

If the agreement goes according to plan, Saleh will become the fourth Arab ruler brought down by mass demonstrations that have reshaped the political landscape of the Middle East.

Saleh returned home on Saturday after signing the deal with the opposition in Riyadh on Wednesday under which he transferred his powers to Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after 33 years in office and 10 months of protests.

In a decree run on the Saba state news agency on Saturday, Hadi said Yemenis “are called on to vote in early elections for a new president of the republic starting at 8 o’clock on the morning of Tuesday, February 21, 2012.”

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Three Killed in Clashes in Yemen’s North

26 Nov 2011


Anti-government protesters march to demand the trial of Yemen‘s President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa


Three people were killed in north Yemen on Saturday when Shi’ite Muslim rebels shelled positions held by Sunni Islamist Salafi fighters after the collapse of a week-old cease-fire, a Salafi spokesman said.

The conflict between the Shi’ite Houthi rebels and the Sunni Salafis is just one of several plaguing Yemen as it looks to elections to replace President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who agreed this week to step down after 10 months of protests to end his 33-year rule, reports Reuters.

In recent weeks, the Houthis have skirmished with Salafist fighters, leading local tribesmen to broker a truce between them a week ago.

“The Houthis broke the cease-fire and shelled the town of Damaj,” said the Salafi spokesman, who identified himself as Abu Ismail, adding two people were injured.

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Yemen Crisis Situation Reports: Update 96

By Katherine Zimmerman

October 30, 2011


Violence targeting Yemen security forces and government officials in Aden, a major port city and capital of former south Yemen, has increased.

A roadside bomb killed one soldier and injured two others when they were on patrol in Aden. A similar report indicates that the explosives were planted in the police car. A bomb planted outside Aden’s general security headquarters exploded Saturday, injuring four soldiers. Friday, four soldiers were injured when a bomb exploded at a checkpoint near a police station. Yemeni security forces arrested five suspects Friday after the assassination of Colonel Ali a Hajji.

Tribal sources reported that loyalist troops shelled areas in Nihm and Arhab, north of the capital. The Republican Guard’s 62nd brigade, stationed in the area, hit a gas station in Arhab, north of the capital. Four people were killed and 13 others injured. A military source denied these reports.

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Chaos in Non-Oil Arab Countries

Hoda Baraka - World Economic Forum on the Midd...

Image by World Economic Forum via Flickr

*  Hakim Almasmari

EDITORIAL Last updated: 03:21:17 PM GMT(+03) Monday, 31, January, 2011

Over the last month, the Middle East has witnessed the biggest crises since the 1950’s.
One country saw separation (Sudan), another saw a revolution (Tunisia), a third saw a complete change in government (Lebanon), and Egypt saw an entire government forced to resign.
One question I would like to put forward is why is all the chaos taking place in countries that will not harm the international interests and are non oil countries? Yemen will also see a scenario close to the ones witnessed by the above nation, as it is open to a revolution, separation, change of government and a new cabinet mix. Yemen is also a non-oil country.
Is it by chance that oil nations are not seeing revolts? Continue reading