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  • Context (TH): Attacks on commercial ships were carried out by Houthi militants from Yemen in the Red Sea as the spillover of the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict.

Yemen

Background

  • Its origin is traced to “Believing Youth”, a Zaydi revivalist group — a part of the Shia sect of Islam, involving them in the Shia-Sunni conflict.
  • It was a powerful sect within Yemen, establishing an imamate in the 16th century and resisting Ottoman influence in the 17th century.
  • The dominance of Zaydis declined in the 19th century due to the fall of the monarchy in Egypt and the rise of Wahhabism.
  • The Houthi movement was founded to reassert the Zaydi influence in the early 1990s.
  • It was inspired by the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the rise of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

Growth of the Houthi Rebellion

  • From religious and social concerns, the movement turned political against the Saleh government’s perceived corruption and Western influence.
  • After the Iraq war, Houthis adopted a new slogan, “Death to America, death to Israel, curse upon the Jews, victory to Islam”.
  • A government crackdown in 2004 backfired, strengthening the Houthi movement.
  • By January 2015, the Houthis captured the capital, Sana’a and much of northern Yemen, triggering Saudi military intervention.
  • Accusations of Iranian support persist, with both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia pointing fingers at Iran.
Operation Rahat: India launched a massive air and sea operation to evacuate over 4000 Indian nationals from Yemen in April 2015.

Impact on Yemen

  • It is undergoing a humanitarian crisis, with 80% of its population dependent on aid and protection.
  • Since 2015, over three million people have been displaced.

Current Status

  • There is a ceasefire in Yemen, with Saudi Arabia in talks with Houthis and Iran to de-escalate the issue.
  • Houthis declared war against Israel during the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict, targeting vessels passing through the Red Sea.
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