- Recently, a suspected drone attack in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), caused multiple explosions in which two Indians were also killed.
- The Shia Houthi rebels of Yemen, who have been controlling the northern parts of the country, including the capital Sana’a, for almost seven years, have claimed responsibility for the attack.
- India has conveyed solidarity with the UAE in face of such unacceptable acts.
- Earlier in 2021, there was a ballistic missile attack by the Houthis on the Saudi capital Riyadh.
- The roots of the Houthi movement can be traced to “Believing Youth” (Muntada al-Shahabal-Mu’min), a Zaydi revivalist group founded by Hussein al-Houthi and his father, Badr al-Din al-Houthi, in the early 1990s.
- Badr al-Din was an influential Zaydi cleric in northern Yemen. Inspired by the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the rise of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in the 1980s, Badr al-Din and his sons started building vast social and religious networks among the Zaydis of Yemen, who make up roughly one-third of the Sunni-majority country’s population.
- But when the movement turned political and started attacking the “corrupt” regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh (in Yemen) and his support for the US’ war on terror, it became a thorn on Saleh’s side.
- They called themselves Ansar Allah (Partisans of God), mobilising tribesmen in the north against the government.
- In 2004, Saleh’s government issued an arrest warrant against Hussein al-Houthi. He resisted the arrest, starting an insurgency.
- In September 2004, the government troops attacked the rebels and killed Hussein. Since then, the government launched multiple military campaigns in Sa’dah, the Zaydi stronghold, to end the resistance, which was locally called the Houthis movement, after their “martyred” leader.
- But it only strengthened the Houthis, who, by 2010, when a ceasefire was reached, had captured Sa’dah from the government troops.
- Zaydis are the oldest branch of the Shia. The Zaydis are named after Zayd Bin Ali, the great grandson of Imam Ali, Prophet Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law who Shias, Sunnis and Zaydis revere.
- Zayd Bin Ali had led a revolt against the Ummayad Caliphate in the eighth century. He was killed, but his martyrdom led to the rise of the Zaydi sect. While the Zaydis are seen part of the Shia branch of Islam, both in terms of theology and practice, they are different from the ‘Twelver’ Shias of Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.
- For centuries, the Zaydis were a powerful sect within Yemen.
- After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, the Zaydis would establish a monarchy (the Mutawakkilite Kingdom) in the country. But their dominance would come to an end in 1962 when the Egypt-backed republicans overthrew the monarchy.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT