Conflict between Houthi Rebels of Yemen and GCC - Saudi Arabia

Conflict between Houthi Rebels of Yemen and GCC – Saudi Arabia

Question - The Middle East has not seen peace for so many last decades. Discuss the latest conflict involving the Houthi rebels of the Arab nation of Yemen and Gulf Cooperation Council of Saudi Arabia.

Localised war between the Yemeni Houthi rebels has transformed into a bigger conflict after the Gulf Cooperation Council of Saudi Arabia launched air attacks against them.

About the Gulf Cooperation Council

• The Gulf Cooperation Council/GCC was established in an agreement between the following nations: Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar.

• GCC is based on Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

• GCC also has a common regional market and a defence planning council

• Together, the GCC countries hold nearly 50% of the oil reserves of the world

• Saudi Arabia is the most well known and powerful member of the alliance

• GCC nations have also created collective defence forces such as the Saudi Peninsula Shield in the

• The member nations of this grouping signed an intelligence sharing pact in the year 2004 for countering terrorism

• GCC’s common market came into force in 2008; customs union was also declared in 2003

• GCC nations were the first to be hit by the global recession in 2008

• The structure of the GCC is as follows: the highest decision making body is the Supreme Council, while a Ministerial Council meets once in 3 months. There is also a Secretariat General and a Consultative Commission apart from a Commission for the Settlement of Disputes and a Secretary General

About the Conflict

• Following a request for help from the Yemeni government, GCC launched air attacks against Houthi rebels on March 26, 2015

• A large force was deployed by Saudi Arabia with assistance from Arab nations including Jordan, Sudan, Pakistan and Egypt.

• The military action without UN sanction also involves logistical help from the US
• Rising Iranian influence has been tempered by the Saudi intervention; Houthis have been funded by Iran

About the Houthis Rebels

• The Houthis are a Shia group who had participated in uprisings against former President and long time Yemen chief Abdullah Saleh

• The Houthis felt left out of the transitional government following Saleh’s rule

• This transitional government was established with the assistance of the GCC in 2012 and it ignited the insurgency by accommodating the interest of the Houthis

• The Houthis currently control northwestern Yemen and the capital city of Sana’a

About AQAP

• Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula/AQAP is also leading an insurgency in southeast Yemen along with Ansar al-Sharia

• AQAP is a Sunni Islamist rebellion; they will be strengthened by the loss of the Houthis

• This will translate into an Arab winter rather than an Arab spring; the Houthis would have formed a more inclusive government

Facts and Stats

• Yemen is now torn between Shi’ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia

• Saudi kingdom is currently the largest benefactor of Yemen

• Iran aims to increase influence in Yemen against Saudi Aravia

• Houthis are Shia revels from the far north of Yemen

• Houthis follow a sect of Shi’ite Islam known as Zaydism

• They are anti-Saudi and against Wahhabism (interpretation of Sunni Islam followed in Saudi Arabia)

• President Abd- Rabbu Mansour Hadi of Yemen was taken hostage by the Houthis during September 2014

• The latter was a head with links to Western governments and the UN

• Houthis are now moving towards the south after taking control of the capital city

• Pro-Hadi forces were also eliminated by the Houthis in Aden; Iran has challenged the hegemony of Saudi Arabia through the Houthi rebels

• Shi’ite-Sunni rivalry has ignited in yet another region of the world, namely Yemen.
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