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Al Houthi Rebels

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Introduction

Alhouthi rebellion commonly known as Sa'dah Insurgency began in the year 2004. This rebellion was led by a Shiite cleric Hussein Bedridden al-Houthi. Al-Houthi was a sect leader of the group called Shi‘a Zaidiyyah. Since the fighting broke out in 2004, Yemen has been quite destabilized with most of the northern parts of the country that is mountainous being in the control of the rebels. The rebel group s activities have not just threatened the existence of the state of Yemen but also its neighbor Saudi Arabia that considers this insurgency as a threat to its national security.

Background

The conflict between the Yemeni government and the rebel group Al-Houthi has now been there for the last six months. The government of Yemen believes and claims that the Rebel group is fighting the government with the aim of overthrowing it so as to try and put in place Shiite laws in the whole nation. A point to note is that the rebel group has dismissed this argument by the government and instead they claim that they are fighting against their persecution and discrimination by the government. The government of Yemen has accused the Shiite government of Iran of financing the rebel group.

At the time that the Yeminis government was busy working with the United States in fighting terrorism-Mujahedeen, Iran was busy supplying the rebel group with enormous weapons and funds for the war. They then later on through the pledges from the leadership of the military of Houthi rebel decided to control Saadah and its environs. This is actually what paved the way for the seizure of the north. The argument of there course was that the President was expanding his grip and influence on the country by making his son Ahmad who had just come from America to be popular. They alluded that the increased influence of his son would lead to American policies being forced on the people. The first war w3as fought in Saadah.

Since the start of the conflict, the Yemeni government has battled with the rebels who are mainly in the north. This has resulted in many people loosing their lives in the conflict. An estimated 80 to more than 600 people have lost their lives in the conflict. A major development in 2004 is that al-Houthi was killed in September 2004.However this did not mean the end of the rebel group as his brother Abdul-Malik al-Houthi took over as the new leader of the group. According to the estimates released by the government on the status and the cost of the war in 2005, Economic damage worth $270million was incurred with 552 deaths and 2,708 injuries.

Another major offensive was carried out in February 2007 by the military of Yemen resulting in 200 security forces as causalities and over hundred dead by February 19th. Such was a major operation that involved troops of 30,000.In a pan of two weeks from this date, the Yemeni government claimed to have killed 160 rebels (Blumi, 2010).

The ceasefire that was reached on June 16th 2007 did not last for long as fighting resumed in April 2008 when a rebel ambush on 29th April 2008 left seven Yemeni soldiers dead. An explosion occurred at a mosque in Sa’adah resulting in the death of a number of soldiers and tens others wounded. This took place soon after the end of the Friday prayers at the Bin Salman Mosque.

According to the investigations by the Yemeni government, High ranking government officials fro Iran’s top organ - Iranian Revolutionary Guard are the one behind the attacks of Houthi rebel group against Saudi Arabia. These joint operations are done with the help of the majorly Lebanese group Hezbollah. Sources have revealed that several meetings were held that were with the aim of escalating the military situation along the border of Saudi Arabia and Yemen. A case in point is the high level meeting that was held in November 23009 that clearly brought out Iran’s Involvement in the war by way of logistical, financial and military support. This went to an extent that the Yemeni government had come out clearly and urged Iran crack down groups that aid the Houthi rebels. This urge was done through the foreign minister’s call: "Religious (Shiite) circles and groups in Iran are providing aid to the Huthis,"

The conflict went into Saudi Arabia for the first time in November 4th 2009, after Houthi rebels fought at the border and killed a security officer. They then went ahead and started seizing some parts of the kingdom. These activities prompted the government of Saudi Arabia to respond by launching air attacks against the rebels and hence were able to get their territories back. The joining of the Saudi troops in the war helped a great deal in reducing the proliferation of the war.

Discussion

The Houthi rebels had conflicts with the Saudi Arabia due to their standing on the war. While Houthi was receiving support from most of the countries neighboring Yemen, this was not the case with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia considered this rebel group a threat not only to the government and the stability of Yemen but also to Saudi Arabia. The fear of the rebel group getting into Saudi Arabia could not leave Saudi Arabia to just keep mum and watch as Yemen goes through the conflict alone (Barak, Salmoni & Wells, 2010).  

Another reason that made Saudi Arabia to join the war full swing was the provocation they got from the cross border attack that resulted in a security officer being shot dead by four Houthi rebels. The entering of the rebel group in to Saudi Arabia and the attack of the patrols made the situation even worse. This prompted Riyadh to respond by launching air attacks that resulted in many rebels being killed and the area around Saudi Arabia that had been seized brought back into the total control of the kingdom.

Both the Saudi and the Yemeni government point an accusing finger on Iran for aiding the rebels by providing both the military and financial support for the rebel groups. They argue that Iran has handed arms on the red sea coast secretively. The Yemen government also claims that the Iranian government has been facilitating military training of the Houthi soldiers on their soil. The President of Yemen Ali Abdullah Selah’s claim of the training of the Houthi soldiers by the Hezbollah militia has also been an issue that has been confim4ed by the Security Council as a threat to the regions security. The first leader of the rebel group Hussein al-Houthi used to frequent his visits to Iran’s holiest cities mostly Qom. All this accusations have been denied by the Iranian government.

In the Houthi rebels conflict every move can be closely associated with Iran. The training of the soldiers ,to military support given by the Iranian government points to interests on particular gain from the Iranian government if the rebels were to emerge successful. This is even supported by the fact that they organised meeting s and discussed ion how Saudi Arabia can be attacked .Such plans point to Iran’s regional ambitions which is mainly to control the Gulf region. The fact that the Iranian government was Shiite and that the north Yemenites are Shiite provided some bonding that enabled Iran to work with the rebels closely. This was also some kind of assurance that if the government of the time is toppled, they would easily control the government established by the Shiites (Boucek & Ottaway, 2010).

Findings

From the above analysis, it quite clear that the fight between Yemen and Saudi Arabia forces against Houthi rebels is majorly a battle of interests. The sect is just being used as a cover up of the real cause. Iran has played a key role in the course of the war an indication that there are some political interests from Iran that is seeking to control the Gulf region.

The joining of the Saud Army in the war was mainly on the basis of self protection. The Lebanese group-Hezbollah played a pivotal role in the formation and organization of the Houthi rebels. This was through training the Houthi soldiers.

Ignorance and poverty can be said to be the two factors that facilitated the growth of the Houthi rebel group in the northern part of Yemen. As much as Shiism spread in the northern villages was taking place at a fast rate, the dwellers of the north were now easy to convince into supporting and joining the rebel group. While religion is being used as a tool for expansion of the rebel group, this was just but a façade that for the new Zaidism creed.

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