The 21st Century Phenomenon




* Abdul-Malik  Houthi is the son of Sheikh Badr El-Deen Houthi, an admired Shiite Imam in North Yemen, and the brother of slain cleric Hussein El-Deen Houthi, the founder of the “Al-Shabab al-Muamin” – The Believing Youth Shiite militia.

Hussein El-Deen Houthi wanted to restore the pre-revolution (Early 60s’) ruling system, which limited power to a certain faction of society based on descent. Hussein El-Deen Houthi and the Saada Rebels took over, in 06/2004, local government offices and institutions in Saada province and he declared himself an Imam. Short time afterwards Hussein El-Deen Houthi was killed in the 06/2004 uprising in Saada province.   


Abdul-Malik  Houthi replaced his brother Badr as the leader of the Saada province Shiite Zaydi sect and commander of the “Al-Shabab al-Muamin” militia. Yahya al-Houthi the older brother, is officially a PM on behalf of the Yemeni ruling party. Recently his immunity as an MP was lifted by a special session of the parliament. He has been the spokesperson for Abdul Malek Houthi and has been moving between Germany and Switzerland hoping to stay off the radar of the Interpol. Yahya al-Houthi is regularly interviewed by Iran’s Arabic-broadcasting satellite channel “Al-Alam”, which has been sympathetic to the Shiite rebellion in Yemen.

Yahya al-Houthi‘s trial was opened, on Monday 10/26/2009, in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, in absentia, after his immunity was dropped two weeks earlier. He was accused of belonging to an armed group and perpetrating “act of terrorism”.

Abdul-Malik  Houthi had actually abandoned the moderate Zaydi sect, traditional to the Yemeni Shiaa population, for the more extreme Twelver Shia sect, widely practiced in Iran and previously non-existent in Yemen.

Abdul-Malik  Houthi became known in 2007 when he threatened the Jews in al-Saada province to leave their homes otherwise they will be killed.

Abdul-Malik  Houthi developed connections with Iran, saw the Hizbullah in Lebanon as the right model and looked for influence inside the Yemeni regime in a sort of political arrangement.

After a series of clashes with the Yemeni Army Abdul-Malik  Houthi was critically wounded on 05/31/2008 and died from his wounds on Friday 06/06/2008.  The impact of Abdul-Malik  Houthi death on Saada province, the “Al-Shabab al-Muamin” militia and the relations between the Zaydi Shiites and the Yemen government is not, yet, clear.

The “Al-Shabab al-Muamin” suffered heavy losses in 2008 and there is doubt whether the militia is still able to operate.

In 08/2009 a new crisis breached out between the Saada Rebels and the Yemeni regime, which soon became a regional war with Saudi and Yemeni forces (see –  The New Front). Yemen insisted, on Tuesday 01/19/2010, that Abdul-Malik  Houthi was seriously wounded in the ongoing fighting with government troops. 


* Related topics – 
01/2007 AL-SAADA ATTACK–  




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