Saturday, May 02, 2015

Yemen (4) War

Yemen was controlled by a President Saleh for twenty years. He was deposed following a civil war in 2011. In a deal engineered by the United States, Vice President Hadi was appointed in his place. In 2012, he elected for a two-year term in a strange election, in which no one stood against him. He had promised to hand over to an elected president and parliament in 2014, but has refused to hold an election, using insecurity as an excuse.

Hadi is not popular in Yemen. He comes from the south, so he does not have support of the powerful northern tribes. In the south, he is seen as a trait, because he served under President Saleh, who came from the north.

The group currently rebelling in Yemen are called Houthi. This name comes from a tribe that launched and insurgency in 2004. The US media refer to the Houthi as “Iranian–backed”. This plays well in the United States, but there is no evidence to support the claim. It has been talked up by the Saudi’s as a way to justify their illegal war on Yemen, but US military analysts say there is no evidence of significance Iranian involvement in the war.

The US media have just woken up to the differences between Sunni and Shia Islam, and not think it explains everything. They cannot be bothered learning about the significant religious and culture differences between Shia Islam, Zaidi Islam and the Alawites of Syria, because that would not fit with the popular narrative

Most of the Houthi rebel group are belong to the Zaidi branch of Islam. 35 percent of the population of Yemen is Zaidi. They are often referred to as “fivers”, because they recognise five Imams following Mohammed. The Shia Moslems of Iran are called “twelvers” because they recognise twelve Imams following Mohammed. In their cultural aspects, the Zaidi are more like Sunni than Shia, because they do not have Ayatollahs.

The Yemenis are a proud people, with a 2000 year history. They will not be controlled by anyone. They are Arabs, not Persians, so they will not be controlled by Iran.

Many of the tribes in Yemen are Shaf’i Sunni. They have joined the Houthi movement because they dislike the Wahhabi form of Islam that is dominant in Saudi Arabia.

Yemen is a divided nation. Many tribal groups have a long history of independence. The only thing that will untie them is an attacker from outside.

The Houthi rebels do not need weapons from Iran. They already have access to the millions of dollars or armaments that the US has supplied to the Yemeni government over the last few years.

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