Why Is Yemen's Houthi Group Fighting With Saudi-led Coalition?

UAE on Monday said a ballistic missile shot by Houthis was intercepted and destroyed.

BOOM Team
Update: 2022-01-24 13:35 GMT

A week after Houthi drone strike on Abu Dhabi killed three, a missile targetting the Gulf country was destroyed by the UAE on Monday. No casualties were reported,  its defence ministry said in a statement. Last week, a drone strike hit a fuel depot in  Abu Dhabi, causing a fire near its international airport. Three people, including two Indians, were killed in attack.  

The Saudi-led has intensified the attack against Houthis in Yemen with air strikes. On Friday,  at least 60 people were killed in the northern province of Sadaa . United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the air strike that killed inmates of a detention centre.  

According to Reuters, several people, including African migrants, died in the attack. Guterres' spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said that deadly air strikes had been reported from other parts of Yemen as well, with children among those killed.

But who are the Houthis and why are they at loggerheads with Saudi Arabia? Here is what we know about the flare up in the gulf region so far:

Who Are The Houthis?

Houthis are an ethnic group that constitute 25% of Yemen's population. The Houthis belong to the Zaydi sub-sect of Shia Muslims, taking the name from Zaid ibn Ali, the revered leader who is believed to have fought against a corrupt regime. The followers of Zaydism are known to rebel against corruption.

How Did Houthi Movement Start?

Houthism rose from the Zaydi sect of Shia Muslims. Initially, it was a theological movement that propagated the moderate values like tolerance. In 1992, it was organised as a political front under the leadership of Hussein Baddredin Al-Houthi under the name Believing Youth in Saada to revive the Zaydi values. This came as reaction of Saudi's move to develop infrastructure in North Yemen, areas where Zaydis lived.In 2003, when US invaded Iraq, Houthis showed resentment and opposition.  The first face-off between Houthis and government happened when people in Sanaa protested against the Yemem government, under Saleh, for his support of the US. Saleh retaliated with military action. Saudi's backing of the Yemen government disgruntled the Houthis and an insurgency began.  

Operation Decisive Storm

In March 2015, a Saudi-led military coalition launched an attack in Yemen in a bid to push out the Houthi fighters from Sanaa and pave an easy way for the then President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Power was seized from the interim government in 2014.  

Years of War 

The war in Yemen has been going for nearly a decade now. While tens of thousands of people have been killed, millions have been displaced. The economy has been slumping down, pushing millions into poverty and triggering a humanitarian crisis. 


After the recent flare up and air strikes, Yemen faced Internet shutdown. According to Reuters, the internet remained shut on Sunday for the third consecutive day after air strikes on the Red Sea city of Hodeidah.

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