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Current Affairs

Houthis attack UAE

Date: 20 January 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

A suspected drone attack by Houthi rebels on petroleum tankers in Abu Dhabi left three people dead, including two Indians.

 

Background

UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, has been supporting government forces against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

 

Details

  • Yemen is ravaged by a seven-year old civil war, which has destroyed the country’s economy and affected citizens.

  • The war started when Houthi rebels captured the capital Sana’a. Saudi-led coalition fought alongside the government forces to oust Houthis.

  • The Houthis are believed to be proxies of Iran. By defeating them, Saudi Arabia aims to end Iran’s influence in the Arab world.

 

Role of UAE

  • United Arab Emirates joined the campaign in 2015. Despite announcing withdrawal of its forces in 2020, UAE is still involved in the conflict.

  • The attack on UAE marks a significant shift in Houthis’ policy, which mostly targeted Saudi Arabian locations and assets.

 

The Houthis

  • They are the followers of Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, who in 1990s started a Shia movement in Yemen.

  • The movement has a pretty straight-forward ideology-- “God is great, death to America, death to Israel, curse on the Jews, victory to Islam.”

 

Strengthening of the movement

  • After Sunni ideals began to strengthen in the country, influenced by Saudi Arabia-led ideology, many opposing groups joined Saudi militant groups.

  • When Saudi Arabia ally President Ali Abdulla Saleh was forced to step down, the Houthis aligned with him to take on the new President.

  • Later, they killed Saleh after they found out that he was planning to switch over to Saudi-led coalition.

  • The weakness of president allowed Houthis to capture most of the northern territory of the country, which still remains under their control.

 

Involvement of Saudi Arabia

  • The rise of Houthis alarmed Saudi Arabia, which planned to defeat the militants after getting backing from the US, UK and France.

  • The war, which was supposed to be over within a few weeks time, has stretched to over seven years without any end.