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The Houthis (Arabic: الحوثيون al-Ḥūthiyyūn IPA: [ħuːθijuːn]), officially called Ansar Allah (anṣār allāh أنصار الله “Supporters of God”), is a Zaidi Shia-led religious-political movement that emerged from Sa’dah, northern Yemen in the 1990s and has fought against the government of the ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh on and off since 2004. In late 2014, Houthis fixed their relationship with the ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and with his help, Houthis took control of the capital and much of the north.
Like many of Iranian-backed military militia such as Hezbollah, the Houthi movement attracts its Zaidi-Shia followers in Yemen by promoting regional political-religious issues in its media, including the overarching US-Israeli conspiracy and Arab “collusion”. In 2003, the Houthi’s slogan “God is great, death to the US, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam”, became the group’s trademark. Beside, the movement claims that it has some local-political agenda such as ending the economic under-development, political marginalization in Yemen, as well as seeking autonomy in only the areas where they are predominant not all of Yemen. Tension between the Houthis and the central government steadily grew in the 1990s, with war breaking out in 2004 with the group’s founder, Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, leading a rebellion against then President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The group is now led by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, brother of the first leader, who was reportedly killed by Saleh’s Yemeni army forces in 2004.
The Houthis had some role in the 2011 Yemeni Revolution, participating in the street protests and coordinating with other opposition groups. Houthis also had joined National Dialogue Conference in Yemen which is part of the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative. However, after they took over the government with the help from the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, they announced their rejection of the provisions of the November 2011 Gulf Cooperation Council deal, claiming that it did not fundamentally reform governance and describe it as “a conspiracy” against them. In addition, they have also some other claims such as that it will transform the country into a federation of six regions, arguing that “it divided Yemen into poor and wealthy regions” and saw it as a blatant attempt to weaken them by dividing areas under their control between separate regions.
In 2014–2015 Houthis took over the government in Sana’a with the help of the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and announced the fall of the current government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Houthis have gained control of most of the north part of Yemen’s territory and are currently resisting the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen that claims seeking to restore the internationaly-recognized Yemeni government to the power. Houthis, Saleh forces, Yemen’s government, and the forces of Saudi Arabian-led coalition, have been attacked by the Islamic State militant group.