Spring/Summer 2015
Number 28

Yemen on the Brink

Oren Adaki

In March 25th, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of eight other Arab states began military operations in Yemen as part of Operation Decisive Storm. The stated goal of the campaign, which relied heavily on coalition air strikes, was to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized government to power. The Yemeni government, led by President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, had been undermined by Shi’ite Houthi rebels advancing from the country’s northern provinces, who seized the Yemeni capital in late September, forcing Hadi to flee Sana’a. Hadi then called on the international community for help from his new refuge in the strategic port city of Aden. When the Houthis subsequently advanced on the city in late March, Hadi escaped the country on a plane marked “Saudi Medevac,” and Saudi Arabia began its military campaign.

The initial phase of the operation lasted about a month, and targeted Houthi positions throughout the country, including military bases and installations. The air strikes succeeded in neutralizing much of the rebels’ military edge, taking out Houthi-controlled air bases and ballistic missile sites that could have been used to strike deep into Saudi territory. While this stage of the operation appeared to be geared toward containing the Houthi crisis within Yemen’s borders, the Saudi-led coalition announced on April 21st that Decisive Storm had come to an end, inaugurating a second phase—entitled Operation Restoring Hope—focused on finding a political solution to the ongoing crisis.

Yet the military efforts of the Arab coalition appear to have had only limited success in stemming the rebel advance in the country. The Houthis have continued to press their offensive in southern Yemen. In early April, they battled Popular Committees (local armed resistance groups allied with President Hadi) for control of the port of Aden, eventually seizing parts of the city, including the presidential palace. Air strikes have likewise not been capable of dislodging the rebels from their positions in and surrounding the capital or other vital locations in the country.

A five-day cease-fire went into effect on May 12th, allowing for humanitarian aid to reach civilians besieged by war in the region’s most impoverished nation. Hours later, violations to the cease-fire were already being reported on both sides. The Houthis reportedly advanced in several locations and the Saudi-led coalition responded by carrying out limited air strikes against rebel positions. Houthi fighters also allegedly fired rockets into population centers in southern Saudi Arabia and directed sniper fire at Saudi border posts.

So the situation remains. When hostilities began in late March, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition told reporters that the operation achieved its goals “within the first 15 minutes.”(1) But several months, two operations, and a cease-fire later, it seems that the combatants in Yemen’s prolonged crisis are heading toward a stalemate desired by none.

Who are the Houthis?

The Houthis, formally known as Ansar Allah, are part of Yemen’s Zaidi Muslim community, which are composed of more than a third of the Yemeni population. Zaidi Islam is a branch of Shiism that emerged in the ninth century from a dispute regarding leadership succession of the Muslim community following the Prophet Mohammad. The origins of Shi’ite doctrine are defined primarily by the belief that religious leadership following Mohammad should run through the line of Ali bin Abi Talib, Mohammad’s son-in-law. Mainstream Shi’ite ideology reveres twelve imams—or religious leaders—following Mohammad, and its followers are therefore sometimes referred to as “Twelver Shi’ites.” Meanwhile, the Zaidis broke with the Twelvers over the appropriate candidate for the fifth imam. They are therefore called “Fiver Shi’ites,” or Zaidis for their preferred contender at that time, Mohammad’s great-great grandson, Zaid bin Ali.

In sharp contrast to other regional arenas, Sunni-Shi’ite tensions have never been a serious concern in Yemen. That fact may in part be due to the Zaidis’ doctrinal similarities to Sunni Islam. That is, Zaidi jurisprudence is more similar to Sunni legal tradition than to that of the Twelver Shi’ites in Iran. The Zaidis actually rely on the legal tradition of Abu Hanifa, a founder of one of Sunni Islam’s four juridical schools. The Zaidis also do not consider their leaders infallible, a long-held belief in most Shi’ite communities. There is also no precedent in Yemen of mosques segregated along sectarian lines. While most mosques are affiliated with one group or another, Yemen’s Zaidis and Sunnis have prayed together for centuries in a manner unimagined in places like Iraq or Syria.(2)

It is also important to remember that the Zaidis are not just a peripheral minority group suddenly vying for power. Indeed, the Zaidis ruled Yemen for over a thousand years under an Imamate overthrown in 1962 by Adbullah al-Sallal’s republican revolution. The rulers of the Zaidi Imamate in Yemen governed by religious fiat—they claimed lineage from the Prophet Mohammad and imposed their reading of Islamic law as the law of the land. Following Yemen’s game-changing 1962 revolution, the Zaidis and their northern strongholds were marginalized by the new central government in Sana’a and their ideology came under attack by the spread of Saudi-sponsored Wahhabism, a strand of Sunni doctrine that is more directly antagonistic toward Shi’ism than traditions embraced by Yemen’s Sunnis.

In the early 1990s, Zaidi community leaders began to organize under what was then coined Al Shabaab al-Mu’min, The Believing Youth, a revivalist movement promoting the Zaidi religious creed in the face of the growing entrenchment of Saudi Wahhabism in Yemen. At the time, the group was led by Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi and mainly disseminated Zaidi propaganda, such as video and cassette recordings.

The United States’ inauguration of the war on terror following the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent invasion of Iraq in 2003 galvanized the nascent Zaidi movement.(3) The group began staging anti-American rallies in Yemen, possibly in the mold of revolutionary Shi’ite Iran, with particular vitriol directed toward then-president Ali Abdullah Saleh for his close ties with Washington. It was in this context that the current anti-American Houthi slogan first emerged: “Death to America, Death to Israel, Damnation Upon the Jews, and Victory to Islam.”

The road to rebellion

As the Zaidi movement transitioned from revivalism to radicalism, the Yemeni government felt increasingly threatened and led a concerted effort to arrest the group’s leader, Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, even going so far as to place a $55,000 bounty on his head.(4) In turn, this perceived attack against the Zaidi movement spurred al-Houthi to launch the first of what would become a series of six wars against the government, known as the Saada wars. After the Yemeni military killed al-Houthi along with two hundred of his loyalists in Saada province in 2004, the Zaidi movement was renamed after him, giving birth to the Houthi movement as we know it today.

Hussein’s father, Badreddin al-Houthi, took the helm of the Houthi movement after his son’s death, and was eventually replaced by another son, Hussein’s brother, Abdel Malek al-Houthi, who still leads the group today. Under Abdel Malek’s direction, the Houthi movement fought an additional five wars with the Yemeni military between 2005 and 2010, even drawing in regional superpower Saudi Arabia in 2009 following a Houthi incursion into Saudi territory which killed a Saudi border guard.

The Yemeni government brokered a cease-fire agreement with the Houthis in early 2010, concluding six years of war with the northern Zaidis which had left more than 100,000 Yemenis internally displaced, scores dead, and rendered government authority in the north virtually nonexistent. But just a year later, the Houthis were once again voicing their opposition to the central Yemeni government, this time as part of the Arab Spring protests which engulfed the Yemeni capital. The protests called for the ouster of longtime Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had ruled the country for over three decades. Saleh’s corruption during his presidency was staggering, and the subject of widespread outrage on the Yemeni street; a subsequent United Nations report released in 2015 claimed that Saleh had amassed up to $60 billion, equivalent to Yemen’s annual gross domestic product (GDP).(5) Ironically a Zaidi himself, Saleh led the Yemeni government’s military campaigns to squash the Houthi rebellions in the north, bolstering Houthi grievances against the government in general and Saleh specifically.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) laid the groundwork for the transition of power from Saleh to his deputy Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi in 2011, and Saleh eventually stepped down in early 2012. Notably, the GCC plan enshrined Saleh’s immunity from prosecution for all his past actions as president and guaranteed him the right to return to the country. As part of the GCC initiative, a transitional dialogue process called the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) was launched in early 2013 in an effort to propose reforms that could repair the broken Yemeni political system.

Though the Houthis were not involved in the GCC agreement, their participation in the National Dialogue Conference was a watershed moment in their movement’s history. A Houthi representative was included in the NDC’s nine-member presidency and a Houthi delegation attended the nearly year-long conference. This political representation marked a sharp departure for the Yemeni government’s treatment of the Houthis; the government had spent massive resources fighting the rebels for six years. The Houthis ultimately rejected the NDC’s recommendation to divide Yemen into six federal regions, fearful of ramifications for their northern power bases. Yet the NDC served to legitimize the Houthi movement. By the time the NDC came to a close in January 2014, the Houthis had transformed from a northern rebel group to a full-fledged political opposition movement.

Despite their growing political legitimacy, just weeks following the conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference the Houthis began consolidating their presence in Yemen’s northern Amran province and staged an attack against Sunni tribal forces in that area. Their efforts culminated in July, when they successfully seized the entire province and fatally attacked the Yemeni general leading an army brigade sent to repel their offensive.

Later that same month, the Yemeni government lifted subsidies on fuel in an effort to secure an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan, causing gasoline prices in the country to soar. The Houthis capitalized on the popular outcry in the country, and by August hundreds of Houthi protestors were on Sana’a’s streets calling for the resignation of the “corrupt” Yemeni government.

When government forces clashed with protestors in the capital, Sana’a, the Houthi rebels responded by deploying their militias and seizing control in mid-September. In a sign of their newfound power, the rebels raided the downtown residences of prominent military and political officials and took over government offices and military bases in and around the Yemeni capital. The United Nations soon intervened and brokered a cease-fire agreement known as the Peace and National Partnership Agreement, which called for increased representation for marginalized sectors of Yemeni society, including the Houthis, and a reinstatement of fuel subsidies. The Houthis, however, refused to sign the annex to the agreement, which stipulated the withdrawal of all armed militias from the capital. Instead, they consolidated their power in the capital and continued their military offensive throughout the country, gradually extending control southward into Yemen’s Sunni heartland. In a matter of weeks, the Houthis had seized the significant port city of Hodeidah on the Red Sea coast as well as Ibb province, a mere 100 miles from the Gulf of Aden.

By the beginning of 2015, the Houthis achieved stunning military successes in the country, emboldening them to reject attempts to draft a new constitution, as laid out in the Peace and National Partnership Agreement. Ultimately, the rebels stormed the presidential palace in Sana’a, held President Hadi and other government ministers under house arrest, and forced Hadi and his cabinet to resign under duress.

Hadi eventually fled the capital to his hometown of Aden in February, where he rescinded his resignation and appealed to the international community to come to the aid of his embattled government. When Houthi rebels appeared to be closing in on Aden in March, Hadi slipped out of the country with apparent help from Riyadh, and Saudi Arabia promptly announced the commencement of Operation Decisive Storm the following day.

Unlikely allies at home

The Houthis’ successful offensive was undoubtedly due in part to a widespread sentiment in Yemen that Hadi’s government was indeed corrupt and ineffective, as they had claimed. However, there can be no question that their staggering military successes were in part due to the help of Yemen’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

It may surprise outside observers of Yemen that Saleh, a man who waged six brutal wars against the Houthis during his presidency, would ally himself with the group. Saleh once famously described his political maneuvers during his 33-year-long tenure as “dancing on the heads of snakes,”(6) as he was known for shifting his alliances in Yemen’s complex tribal landscape to secure his tight grip on power. Thus, it came as no surprise to Yemenis that Saleh joined forces with his Houthi arch-rivals in order to resurface as a key player in Yemeni politics a mere three years after stepping down.

Despite relinquishing power, Saleh still commanded the loyalty of key units in the Yemeni military. Saleh had spent over three decades elevating his associates to top military positions, strengthening his patronage network and ensuring his control over the military even after his departure from politics. Notably, Saleh’s son Ahmed was commander of Yemen’s powerful Republican Guard and Special Forces, and his nephew Yahya headed Yemen’s Central Security Forces. Due to disproportionate dominance of the Saleh family and their associates over the military, President Hadi moved to restructure Yemen’s security forces in late 2012 and early 2013, absorbing the forces loyal to Saleh into five new military branches.

Although Hadi’s restructuring of the military sought to reduce Saleh’s lingering influence in Yemen, the former Yemeni president soon found a new comeback strategy in the emerging Houthi rebel movement. Reports indicated that Saleh and the Houthis reached an understanding late last year to work together toward creating a mutually beneficial situation—spoiling the transition process that removed Saleh from power and elevating the significance of the Houthi rebels.(7)

Another player was present as well. From very early on, there were signs of the Yemeni military’s collusion in the Houthi rebel offensive. Reports suggested that the rebels faced minimal resistance in their takeover of the Yemeni capital in late September, and they were soon spotted patrolling the streets of Sana’a in Yemeni military uniforms. Moreover, one of the rebels’ first orders of business was to storm the residence of Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, an elite army commander who turned on Saleh during the 2011 protests by calling for his resignation. The Houthis swiftly gained control of much of the Yemeni military’s heavy weaponry—including tanks, rocket-propelled grenades, and air force fighter jets—providing the rebels with a significant military edge over their opponents.

While the full extent of Saleh’s backing for the Houthi rebels remains murky, he has been singled out internationally for his role in Yemen’s current crisis. Both the United Nations and the United States sanctioned Saleh in early November 2014 for “undermining the political transition of Yemen.”(8) The U.S. claimed that Saleh had become “one of the primary supporters” of the Houthi rebellion soon after he stepped down from the presidency in 2012.(9)

A helping hand from Iran

There are also growing indications that the Houthis have been receiving support from an aspiring regional hegemon: namely, Iran. Indeed, the history of Iranian support for the Houthi movement is long, dating back at least to the Sa’ada wars between 2004 and 2010. During that time, bilateral relations between Yemen and Iran began to strain, with Yemeni officials routinely accusing the Islamic Republic of backing the Shi’ite rebels.(10)

Since 2009, there have been a number of reports highlighting Iran’s military support for the Houthis. In October 2009, Yemen seized an arms-laden Iranian ship manned by Iranian weapons experts sent to replace other Iranian nationals fighting alongside the Yemeni rebels. A joint U.S.-Yemeni military operation seized yet another ship off the coast of Yemen in January 2013, the Jihan 1, containing a cache of weapons. The cache included significant weaponry, such as Katyusha rockets, heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles, Iranian-made night-vision goggles, and advanced artillery systems. Despite Iranian denials, markings on the weapons indicated they had come from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) facilities. U.S. officials subsequently confirmed that the weapons were intended for the Houthi rebels.(11)

After the Houthis took the port of Hodeidah in October 2014, reports indicated that they received a weapons shipment at a port in the area from an unspecified allied “Islamic country,”(12) suspected by most to be Iran. Most recently, in March, an Iranian ship is reported to have unloaded more than 180 tons of weapons and military equipment at the Houthi-controlled Saleef port in western Yemen.(13)

Iran has also not limited its illicit arms shipments to the Houthis to maritime transfers. Recent evidence has suggested that Iran is utilizing Pouya Air, an airline previously designated by the U.S. for its weapons shipments to Syria, in order to send arms to the Houthis by air.(14) Moreover, Tehran signed an air transport agreement with the Houthis in March, ensuring fourteen flights a week between Sana’a and Tehran, not to mention a continuous arms transfer route from Iran to the Shi’ite rebels.(15) Secretary of State John Kerry stated in April that these weekly flights from Iran were being used to shuttle destabilizing “supplies,” and the spokesperson for the Saudi-led military coalition went so far as to claim that a majority of these flights was ferrying arms and ammunition.(16)

There are now several indications that the Iranians have not only supplied the Houthis, but trained them as well. Yemeni officials claim that Houthis have been traveling to Lebanon and Iran for training for some time now, indicating that 100 Houthi fighters trained in Iran in 2014 alone.(17) Though virtually impossible to confirm, a senior Iranian official admitted in December 2014 that the IRGC’s Qods Force had stationed a “few hundred” military personnel to directly train Houthi combatants in Yemen, in addition to about a dozen Iranian military advisers already on the ground.(18) A news report in late March suggested that members of the IRGC were training Houthis in the use of Yemen’s air force.(19)

Iran has also provided vital financial support to the Houthi movement. In 2012, U.S. officials noted that along with weapons, Iran was regularly sending several million dollars in cash to Yemen to back the Shi’ite rebels.(20) In December 2014, a Yemeni official warned that “sacks of cash” from Tehran had been arriving at Sana’a International Airport, some of which were channeled via Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.(21)

Beyond military and financial support, Iran and its proxies have also been a great source of guidance for the Houthis. In late 2009, reports emerged of a secret meeting along the Yemeni-Saudi border between Houthi rebels, the IRGC, and Hezbollah.(22) The latter also assisted the Houthis in establishing Al Masira, a Houthi radio and television station that provides the Houthis with a reliable means of disseminating their propaganda in Yemen and beyond.(23)

Recent reports highlight the growing relationship between Hezbollah and the Yemeni rebels.(24) In May, a Hezbollah commander close to the terrorist group’s leadership spoke of Hezbollah’s advisory role vis-à-vis the Houthis, allegedly teaching the rebels the art of guerilla warfare and operational timing.(25) Harping on long-standing Shi’ite narratives of oppression, the Hezbollah commander commented, “We are wherever the oppressed need us… Hizbollah is the school where every freedom-seeking man wants to learn.” When Houthi spiritual leader Abdel Malek al-Shami died as a result of injuries sustained from a Sunni terrorist bombing of a mosque in March, he reportedly was buried in Lebanon at a cemetery in the Hezbollah stronghold of southern Beirut alongside Hezbollah terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyeh.(26)

The road ahead

The ongoing Houthi crisis poses serious challenges to U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Yemen, a country that serves as a base for operations for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Senior American intelligence officials have called AQAP “the most dangerous of al-Qaeda’s” affiliates, particularly due to the group’s repeated attempts to strike Western targets outside of Yemen’s borders.(27) After all, AQAP claimed credit for the terrorist attack on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 and has attempted to carry out several brazen attacks in the U.S. These include the 2009 Christmas Day plot to bomb a Detroit-bound passenger airplane, two attempts to down cargo planes with explosives disguised as printer cartridges in October 2010, as well as a May 2012 attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound airliner.

The sidelining of President Hadi, a staunch U.S. counterterrorism partner, surely does not bode well for future efforts to combat AQAP in the country. This became especially clear in late March, when Houthi forces took control of the al-Anad airbase in southern Lahij province. The base previously served as a key site for joint Yemeni-U.S. counterterrorism operations, including as a base for drone strikes, and AQAP has targeted the base in the past in retaliation for U.S. drone strikes against its operatives.

Perhaps even more troubling than the apparent ouster of President Hadi is the evident reinvigoration of AQAP in recent months. From the outset of the rebellion, AQAP framed the conflict in starkly sectarian terms and championed itself as the vanguard of Yemen’s Sunni Muslims in the face of a Shi’ite rebel onslaught.(28) This narrative was bolstered by the fact that until the beginning of Operation Decisive Storm, AQAP was one of the only forces on the ground launching attacks against the rebels. Consequently, a growing number of reports indicate that more Sunni tribesmen have joined forces with the terrorist group in battles against the Houthis—a boon for AQAP recruitment in the country.(29)

The Houthi rebellion has also created a dangerous power vacuum in the country, which AQAP has been more than happy to exploit. AQAP routinely capitalizes on moments of crisis in Yemen, as it did in 2011 when massive Arab Spring protests filled the streets of Sana’a. While more troops were recalled to the capital to squash the protests, AQAP mobilized in the south and started seizing territory—eventually announcing the establishment of an emirate in the Yemeni province of Abyan in 2011.

It appears that the current Houthi rebellion has similarly breathed new life into al-Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate. AQAP has managed to wage a three-front war—staging attacks against the Houthi rebels, the Yemeni military, as well as targeting U.S. and other Western interests in the country. In light of this increased operational capability, it should not have come as a major surprise when the terrorist group seized control of the coastal city of al-Mukalla in early April, subsequently raiding the local branch of the Central Bank and other key government offices. AQAP fighters also staged a prison break in the city, freeing over 300 inmates including AQAP leader Khalid Batarfi.

AQAP’s strengthened hand is just one concern for U.S. counterterrorism officials focused on Yemen. A major fear is the prospect that Yemen could go the way of Syria, continuing to spiral out of control and attracting jihadi operatives of all stripes, especially given the increasingly sectarian nature of the crisis. In this scenario, Yemen could become a haven not just for al-Qaeda affiliates, but for a host of other extremist organizations as well—groups that could destabilize the country for years to come and foster even more anti-American activity. This is already becoming a reality, as evidenced by the emergence of an Islamic State cell in Yemen in March that has already claimed a series of brutal attacks in the country.

The resurgence of Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen is another discouraging development, threatening to spoil the country’s delicate political transition which began in 2011 and potentially destabilizing Yemen for the foreseeable future. Moreover, it throws a wrench in President Obama’s description of Yemen as a model of peaceful political transition in the Arab world,(30) and could ultimately engender even more divisions in a country which celebrated the removal of Saleh’s authoritarian rule.

Beyond the danger to Yemen’s stability, the current Houthi rebellion also threatens to spill over Yemen’s borders, with serious consequences for the region and the broader international community. The Houthis have already killed a number of Saudi soldiers in cross-border mortar attacks, even hitting major population centers in Najran and Jizan. The Saudi-led military campaign against the Shi’ite rebels in Yemen could also exacerbate the already simmering sectarian tensions in Saudi Arabia, most prominently in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, where Shi’ites make up about a third of the population. In fact, reports in April suggested that Saudi security services were severely cracking down on Shi’ites in the Eastern Province in an attempt to prevent them from protesting against Operation Decisive Storm.(31)

The Houthi rebellion inched closer toward becoming a crisis of international proportions when the Houthis began repositioning missiles, artillery, and small armed boats on the strategic island of Perim in the Bab al-Mandaab strait in early April. Perim sits at the narrowest point of the strait and commands the fourth-busiest oil and fueling shipping bottleneck in the world, connecting the Gulf of Aden to the Mediterranean by way of the Red Sea.

The Bab el-Mandeb strait not only serves as a conduit for the international oil trade, but also for nearly all trade by sea flowing south from Europe to Asian markets. Any interference in shipping traffic through the Strait could therefore severely affect international commerce writ large, effectively rendering the Suez Canal obsolete and forcing shipping to reroute to longer and costlier journeys. It is also worth noting that Israel depends upon shipping in and out of the Bab el-Mandeb strait for its maritime commerce between Asia and Eilat. When Israel went to war in 1967, in part its casus belli was Nasser’s decision to block off another important Red Sea chokepoint, the Straits of Tiran. Keenly aware of the strait’s strategic importance, coalition forces swiftly eliminated the Houthi presence on Perim through a combination of air strikes, naval bombings, and a Saudi special forces landing.

Iran’s involvement in the Houthi crisis further threatens to upend the geopolitical balance in the region, with the Islamic Republic advancing on several fronts throughout the Middle East. Iranian officials were quick to gloat over this possible development. Days after the Houthis seized the Yemeni capital in September, Ali Riza Zakani, a prominent member of the Iranian parliament, exclaimed, “Three Arab capitals have already fallen into Iran’s hands,”(32) suggesting that after Damascus, Beirut, and Baghdad, Sana’a would be next. Iran’s growing role in the region is undeniable, and the dangerous prospect of an Iranian forward operating base in Yemen is deeply concerning to American allies throughout the Middle East.

Continued relevance

Only time will tell what will become of Yemen’s current Houthi crisis. However, no matter the outcome of the current Saudi-led military operation, what is becoming increasingly apparent is that it will not be the final nail in the coffin of the Houthi movement. The Houthis have proven that they are a force to be reckoned with, and that efforts to marginalize them completely are doomed to fail.

As such, they will continue to play an important role in Yemen’s political future. The country’s future stability and survival may just depend on the extent to which a political accommodation can unite Yemen’s disparate political movements, including the Houthis, to create a strong, central government capable of tackling the country’s myriad problems.

Oren Adaki is a research analyst with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) focusing on Yemen and the broader Gulf region. His work has previously appeared in Foreign Policy, Al-Arabiya, The National Interest, The Long War Journal and War on the Rocks.

1.   Mishal al-Otaibi, “Operation Achieves Goals Quickly: Al-Asiri,” Saudi Gazette, March 26, 2015, http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20....

2.   Abubakr al-Shamahi, “Yemen Is More Nuanced Than ‘Sunni’ & ‘Shi’a,’” Yemen Times, February 27, 2014, http://www.yementimes.com/en/1759/opinion/3540/Yemen-is-more-nuanced-tha....

3.   Adam Taylor, “Who Are The Houthis, The Group That Just Toppled Yemen’s Government?” Washington Post, January 22, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/01/22/who-are-the....

4.   “Yemeni Forces Kill Rebel Cleric,” BBC, September 10, 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3643600.stm.

5.   “Yemen Ex-President Amassed Up to $60 Billion, Colluded With Rebels: U.N. Experts,” Reuters, February 25, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/25/us-yemen-security-saleh-un-idU....

6.   Salman Aldosary, “Opinion: Saleh Continues to Dance on the Heads of Snakes,” Asharq Al-Awsat (London), April 3, 2015, http://www.aawsat.net/2015/04/article55342747/opinion-saleh-continues-to....

7.   Mustapha Ajbaili, “Eyeing Return, Yemen’s Ousted Saleh Aids Houthis,” Al-Arabiya, October 23, 2014, http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/analysis/2014/10/23/Eyeing-r....

8.   U.S. Department of the Treasury, “Press Release: Treasury Sanctions Political Spoilers Threatening the Peace, Security and Stability of Yemen,” November 10, 2014, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2693.aspx.

9.   “U.N. Sanctions Yemen’s Ex-President Saleh, Two Rebel Leaders,” Reuters, November 7, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/07/us-yemen-un-sanctions-idUSKBN0....

10.  Haytham Mouzahem, “Iran’s Angle in Yemen,” Al-Monitor, May 14, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/05/iran-angle-yemen-relat....

11.  Phil Stewart, “Large Arms Shipment Intercepted off Yemen, Iran Eyed as Source,” Reuters, January 28, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/29/us-yemen-weapons-iran-idUSBRE9....

12.  Arafat Madabish, “Yemeni Houthis Receiving Heavy Weapon Shipments Via Red Sea Ports: Sources,” Asharq Al-Awsat (London), December 7, 2014, http://www.aawsat.net/2014/12/article55339265/yemeni-houthis-receiving-h....

13.  “Iranian Ship Unloads 185 Tons of Weapons for Houthis at Saleef Port,” Al-Arabiya, March 20, 2015, http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/20/Iranian-ship....

14.  Roni Daniel, “התמונות חושפות את הטריק האירני,” Mako, March 31, 2015, http://mobile.mako.co.il/news-world/arab-q1_2015/Article-2e8f4352aa07c41....

15.  “Houthis Sign Economic Agreements With Iran,” Aden Street, March 12, 2015, http://www.adenstreet.com/news725.html.

16.  John Kerry, “Interview With Judy Woodruff of PBS NewsHour,” U.S. Department of State Website, April 8, 2015, http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/04/240486.htm; “Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri says, In His Fourth Daily Briefing, That Houthi Militia Managed to Work in the Previous Period to Transfer Yemen to a Huge Inventory of Ammunition and Weapons,” Saudi Press Agency, March 29, 2015, http://www.spa.gov.sa/english/details.php?id=1343771.

17.  Yara Bayoumi and Mohammed Ghobari, “Iranian Support Seen Crucial for Yemen’s Houthis,” Reuters, December 15, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/15/us-yemen-houthis-iran-insight-....

18.  Ibid.

19.  “بالفيديو..طيار إيراني يدرب أحد مقاتلي الحوثي,” Al-Arabiya, March 27, 2015, http://www.alarabiya.net/ar/saudi-today/2015/03/27/%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D9....

20.  Eric Shmitt and Robert F. Worth, “With Arms for Yemen Rebels, Iran Seeks Wider Mideast Role,” New York Times, March 15, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/15/world/middleeast/aiding-yemen-rebels-i....

21.  Yara Bayoumi and Mohammed Ghobari, “Iranian Support Seen Crucial for Yemen’s Houthis,” Reuters, December 15, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/15/us-yemen-houthis-iran-insight-....

22.  “Yemen’s Houthis Hold Secret Meeting With Iran,” Al-Arabiya, December 13, 2009, http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2009/12/13/94076.html.

23.  Amal Mudallali, “The Iranian Sphere of Influence Expands Into Yemen,” Foreign Policy, October 8, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/10/08/the-iranian-sphere-of-influence-expa....

24.  Erika Solomon, “Lebanon’s Hizbollah and Yemen’s Houthis Open Up on Links,” Financial Times, May 8, 2015, http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e1e6f750-f49b-11e4-9a58-00144feab7de.html....

25.  Ibid.

26.  “Yemen’s Houthi Spiritual Chief Buried by Hezbollah in Lebanon, Report,” Ya Libnan, April 14, 2015, http://yalibnan.com/2015/04/14/yemens-houthi-spiritual-chief-buried-by-h....

27.  Greg Miller and Craig Whitlock, “Yemen Crisis Disrupts U.S. Counterterrorism Operations, Officials Say,” Washington Post, January 23, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-counterterroris....

28.  Oren Adaki, “AQAP Calls Sunnis to Arms,” The Long War Journal, September 24, 2014, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/09/in_the_midst_of_a.php.

29.  Maggie Michael, “How Shi’ite Rebels in Yemen Are Helping Sunni Al-Qaeda Militants,” Associated Press, January 5, 2015, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2015/0105/How-Shi’ite-rebel....

30.  Jeff Mason, “U.S. Tells G8 Syria’s Assad Must Go, Cites Yemen As Model,” Reuters, May 19, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/19/us-syria-usa-whitehouse-idUSBR....

31.  “‘They’re Afraid We’ll Protest Yemen Operation,’ Say Saudi Shi’ites,” France 24, April 6, 2015. http://observers.france24.com/content/20150406-crackdown-saudi-Shi’ite....

32.  “Sanaa Is the Fourth Arab Capital to Join the Iranian Revolution,” Middle East Monitor, September 27, 2014, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14389-sanaa-is-the-fo....