Who Are Yemen’s Houthis?

Myriam Renaud

Fully half of Yemen’s population – 14 million people – are on the brink of starvation. Some analysts blame their inability to access basic foodstuff on escalating conflict between two religious factions: the country’s Sunni Muslims and its Houthis. The Houthis belong to the Shiite branch of Islam.

Saudi Arabia, which shares a border with Yemen and is predominantly Sunni, has been helping Yemen’s government forces try to regain control over Houthi-held parts of the country. For several weeks, a Saudi-led coalition has unleashed near-continuous airstrikes on Houthi strongholds including access points for the majority of humanitarian aid coming into country.

What are the Houthis’ religious beliefs?

Roots of Houthi movement

Just as the Protestant tradition is subdivided into Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and others, Shiite Islam is also subdivided. Houthis belong to the Zaydi branch.

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