The Houthis – so called after the most prominent family in their movement. They belong to the Zaidi sect, a branch of Shia Islam found mostly in Yemen which is thought to account for 5% of the country’s population. Their first leader, Hussain Badreddin al-Houthi is the son of a prominent Zaidi scholar.
In 2004, armed conflict broke out in Saada, resulting in the deaths of at least 98 Houthi supporters and 32 members of the security forces.
The authorities denounced Hussain al-Houthi for “harming Yemen’s stability and interests” and offered a reward of $55,000 for his capture. They accused him of highway robbery, setting up unauthorised religious schools, raising the Hizbullah flag, damaging a water project, urging citizens to withhold taxes, attacking mosques and declaring himself Imam – a title not used in Yemen since the 1962 republican revolution.
Shortly afterwards, Hussain al-Houthi was killed, Between 2004 and 2010 the Houthis and the Saleh regime fought a series of six intermittent wars. Led by Abdul Malik al-Houthi younger brother of Hussein Badr al-Din al-Houthi. That phase of the conflict ended in February 2010 when both sides agreed a ceasefire.
Since 2014 the nature of the insurgency has changed with the Houthi takeover in Yemen, On 18 August 2014, the Houthis began a series of demonstrations in Sana’a against increased fuel prices. On 21 September, the Houthis took control of Sana’a, after which Prime Minister Mohammed Basindawa resigned and the Houthis signed a deal for a new unity government with other political parties. The protests were marked by clashes between the Houthis and the government. At least 340 people were killed.
Operation Decisive Storm
In 26 March 2015 The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced the start of Operation “Operation Decisive Storm” aimed at restoring legitimacy to Yemen, with the participation of 10 Arab countries, and declaring the airspace of Yemen a prohibited area.