(Alias Al-Shabab Al-Moamin Alias Houthis)
By: Hassan Al-Haifi
Who Are Ansar Allah?
Before going further in our discussion of the complex ramifications of the ongoing Saudi-Led Aggression on Yemen, it is imperative that we help the Western reader and probably even most Moslems and Arabs absorb digest information on Ansar Allah (known popularly as the Houthis).
￼Yemenis were perhaps the first people to convert to Islam without coersion or even large scale missionary efforts. At the Prophet Mohammed’s (PABUH) time, Yemenis were divided into Christian/Jewish/polygamist inclinations. As the Prophet settled down in Medina and set up the First Islamic State. He set out to propagate his spiritual mission throughout Arabia and elsewhere. He sent his cousin/son-in-law Ali Bin Abu Talib, and his companion Mu’ath Bin Jabal to Yemen. They succeeded in getting the entire population of Yemen converted to Islam, except for a tiny Jewish minority, which held on to their faith until modern times. The Yemenis later on represented the bulk of the Islamic Armies that fanned out far and wide going as far West and North as Tours, France and as Far East as China. The Moslems of Yemen eventually divided up by religious sects into Shia Zeidi (North) and Sunni Shafei (South). Unlike the Northern Shias of Iraq, Iran and Lebanon, the YemenibZeidis were more in congruence with the Yemeni Shafeis than the former bretheren in sect. The Zeidis ruled Yemen, in part and in full on and off for close to a thousand years, with the last Zeidi Imam being deposed by a coup in 26 September 1962 carried out by the military “Free Officers Movement” with prodding from the Egyptians under the late President Gamal Abdul Nasser.
The last Zeidi Imam to rule in Yemen, Mohammed Al-Badr, who only ruled a week after his father the late Imam Ahmed died in September 19, 1962.
A Civil war ensued for nearly nine years, with Ssudi Arabia supporting the “Royalists” and Egyptians backing the Republicans. This war ended in the Summer of 1970, with both Republicans of Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) and Royalists reaching amicable agreement, thanks to lack of foreign intervention. With the evacuation of Britain from Aden Colony and the hinterland Sultanate Protectorates, South Yemen (People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen-PDRY) also was founded in 30 November 1967. For details of this tumultuous period of Yemen’s history, read https://www.amazon.com/Yemen-Imams-Rulers-Revolutions/dp/0719506999, a well written chronicle of events in both North and South Yemen.
By the late 1990s, Ali Abdullah Saleh consolidated all power in the North and the South of the united (1990) Republic of Yemen (ROY) after defeating the remaining elements of PDRY, which was formerly run by the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP).
Ali Abdullah Saleh, Late President of YAR from July 1978 to May 22, 1990 and President of ROY from 5/22/1990 to February 2012.
The YSP could not hold its partnership status with Saleh’s People’s General Congress Party, who has colluded well with the Wahhabi Islah party (Moslem Brotherhood) almost from the start of Saleh’s reign (both are cozy with the Saudi regime). Saudi Arabia had given generous contributions for the growth of the Wahhabi institutions, schools and charities run by the Islah (MB), as well as to Saleh and his backers in the PGC.
In the Mid 1990s, thanks to some semblance of political freedom and plurality brought about by the Unification Agreement of November 30, 1989 (admittedly insisted upon by the leaders of the YSP), several new political factions began to surface in the Yemenk political arena. These include religious affiliated groups and parties. Hizb Al-Haq was a party that came to serve the interests of Yemeni Zeidis, who began to feel that the Wahhabis were trying to eliminate them from the Yemeni social fabric altogether. This feeling was reinforced especially as the Saudis began to finance the creation of Wahhabi “Salafi” settlements in Yemen, particularly in Sa’ada Governorate. As Hizb Al- Haq failed to protect the Zeidis and was in fact repressed by the Saleh-Islah alliance, Al-Haq members started to form more vigilant groups to counter the Wahhabi Government backed enclaves in their midst.
Hussein Badr-Eddine Al-Houthi, founder of Al-Shabab Al-Moamin, alias Ansar Allah, alias the Houthis, who was assassinated on September 10, 2004 in the First Sa’ada War, ehich ended on that date as he was surrendering to Government troops, after being assured he would be unharmed.
Hussein Badr Eddine Al-Houthi (HH), a young and elequent political activist took up the banner of countering the spread of Wahhabism and the “foreign” settlements of Wahhabi Salafis in Sa’ada Governorate. He founded the Shabab Al-Moamin, or Faithful Youth (SM) Movement (Predecessors of Ansar Allah). When the Government, under Saudi prodding, began to put pressure on SM, the SM became more vocal and vigilant and began to put trained sermoners in Zeidi mosques, which had been taken over by Wahhabi sermoners or Imams. The Government started to view SM as a security issue and began to arrest its followers, while the Wahhabis were left free.
By 2004, the SM had grown and spread in Sa’ada and were attracting Zeidis from all over Yemen. The Governor of Sa’ada, then Mohammed Al-Amry, wIth prodding from General Ali Muhsin Al-Ahmar (a long-time supporter of the Wahhabis in Yemen), began to intimidate SM and put pressure on its leader Hussein Al-Houthi, and scuffles occurred from time to time. Al-Amry then wanted to arrest HH and take pissession of his licensed light arms, which he had a right to have like all members of Parliament (HH and his brother, Yahya Al-Houthi, were elected members of Parluament from Sa’ada under Hizb Al-Haq). A guerilla war ensued between the weakly armed followers of HH and soon they were outmatched by the Army and accepted to surrender, provided they were left alive. The Government agreed, but when HH came out of his cave, he was killed immediately, and his body stashed away for almost fifteen years. For some detalls of the Houthis and SM Movement see https://www.counterextremism.com/threat/houthis. The article cited is not fully agreeable but gives a good indication of the philosophy and rapid spread of SM.
The Houthi family, including the family patriarch Badr-Eddine Al-Houthi, a revered Zeidi scholar, were brought to Sana’a and kept under neglect and house arrest and the corpse of Hussein was not given back to the family as promised. After a few months they all fled back to Sa’ada.
Abdul-Malik Badr-Eddine Al-Houthi, 39 years old Leader of Ansar Allah, since the assassination of his brother Hussein in 2004 until present.
SM was taken over by the younger brother of Hussein, Abdul-Malik Badr-Eddine Al-Houthi. A second Sa’ada War ensued, then a Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth from 2005 to 2010, with each time the SM Movement growing in strength and power, with the Government forced to negotiate a peace each time after suffering heavy losses. (For a brief sccount of the history of the Sa’ada Wars, see https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://carnegieendowment.org/files/war_in_saada.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwiU28TVoJbaAhVDbRQKHSBAAE0QFjABegQIBxAB&usg=AOvVaw3SgFgJv4jnTmCFSexT6NU4).
Sixth Sa’ada War – First Direct Saudi Arabian Involvement
In the Sixth War Saudi Arabia intervened directly on the side of the Government (KSA bankrolled all the Six Wars), so in essence the Sa’ada Wars were contracted out by the Saudis. Out of frustration at Yemen Government’s 5 failures to liquidate the SM, they decided to join in the fighting. The Saudis got a taste of SM military prowess and the Ansar Allah (AA – name changed from Shabab Al-Moamin after a Wahhabi Somalian Movement took up the name Al-Shabab to confuse the SM with Wahhabi terrorists), actually took several military positions in Asir, Najran, and Jaizan. When the Houthi or AA Katiyushas began to reach Jaizan City, the US told the Saudis to halt and make a deal with AA. Qatar brokered the deal then. The AA settled for a deal and withdrew from 44 positions they had captured inside Saudi Arabia, but AA kept the large weapons caches they took from the Saudis. During the Sixth War, the Saudis indiscriminately bombed Sa’ada and Hajjah Governorates destroying a lot of public and private property and killing many civilians. In Sixth War, the number of displsced persons from the war jumped from 115,000 from all previous five wars according to Government statistics to 350,000, mainly because of the indiscriminate heavy Saudi airraids and rocket attacks from across the border to Sa’ada and Hajjah Governorates. Amnesty Internation issued a condemnation of this indiscriminate bombing (https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2010/04/exclusive-images-reveal-devastation-yemene28099s-hidden-conflict-north/).
The Plight of Northern Yemen
A Life of Conflict, Dust and Ruins
In February 2011 Ansar Allah took part in the Yemen Spring Revolution.
Part III follows.