Tag Archive | "Aden"

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Al-Qaeda’s Affiliate Groups

Posted on 02 May 2011 by hashimilion

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a firefight with U.S. forces in Pakistan on Sunday, President Barack Obama announced.

Here are some details on Al Qaeda’s main affiliate groups in the Arabian peninsula, Iraq and North Africa.

* AL QAEDA IN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA (AQAP)

— Al Qaeda’s Yemeni and Saudi wings merged in 2009 into a new group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), based in Yemen. They announced this three years after a counter-terrorism drive halted an al Qaeda campaign in Saudi Arabia.

— AQAP’s Yemeni leader, Nasser al-Wahayshi, was once a close associate of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, whose father was born in Yemen, a neighbor of top oil exporter Saudi Arabia.

Nasser al-Wahayshi

 

— Yemen’s foreign minister has said 300 AQAP militants might be in the country.

— Nearly a year before the September 11, 2001 attacks, al Qaeda bombed the USS Cole warship in October 2000 when it was docked in the southern Yemen port of Aden, killing 17 U.S. sailors.

— AQAP claimed responsibility for an attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound airliner on December 25, 2009, and said it provided the explosive device used in the failed attack. The suspected bomber, a young Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had visited Yemen and been in contact with militants there.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

 

— AQAP staged several attacks in Yemen in 2010, among them a suicide bombing in April aimed at the British ambassador, who was not injured.

— The group also claimed responsibility for a foiled plot to send two air freight packages containing bombs to the United States in October 2010. The bombs were found on planes in Britain and Dubai. Last November AQAP vowed to “bleed” U.S. resources with small-scale attacks that are inexpensive but cost billions for the West to guard against.

* AL QAEDA IN THE ISLAMIC MAGHREB (AQIM)

Abdelmalek Droukdel

 

— Led by Algerian militant Abdelmalek Droukdel, AQIM burst onto the public stage in January 2007, a product of the rebranding of fighters previously known as Algeria’s Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).

— The Salafists had waged war against Algeria’s security forces but in late 2006 they sought to adopt a broader jihadi ideology by allying themselves with al Qaeda.

— AQIM scored initial high-profile successes with attacks on the government, security services and the United Nations office in Algiers in 2007. Since 2008, attacks have tailed off as security forces broke up AQIM cells in Algeria.

— Although concrete intelligence is scant, analysts say there are a few hundred fighters who operate in the vast desert region of northeastern Mauritania, and northern Mali and Niger. AQIM’s most high-profile activity is the kidnapping of Westerners, many of whom have been ransomed for large sums.

— AQIM has claimed responsibility for the abduction of two Frenchmen found dead after a failed rescue attempt in Niger last January and it is also holding other French nationals kidnapped in Niger in September 2010. A tape, released on Islamist forums late last month, showed pictures of each of the hostages.

* AL QAEDA IN IRAQ (AQI):

— The group was founded in October 2004 when Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi pledged his faith to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

 

— An Egyptian called Abu Ayyab al-Masri but also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir is said to have assumed the leadership of al Qaeda in Iraq after Zarqawi was killed in 2006.

— In October 2006, the al Qaeda-led Mujahideen Shura Council said it had set up the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an umbrella group of Sunni militant affiliates and tribal leaders led by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. In April 2007 it named a 10-man “cabinet,” including Masri as its war minister.

— Fewer foreign volunteers have made it into Iraq to fight with al Qaeda against the U.S.-backed government but the group has switched to fewer albeit more deadly attacks.

— Militants linked to al Qaeda claimed bombings in Baghdad on December 8, 2009 near a courthouse, a judge training center, a Finance Ministry building and a police checkpoint in southern Baghdad. At least 112 people were killed and hundreds wounded. — On April 18, 2010 Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi were killed in a raid in a rural area northwest of Baghdad by Iraqi and U.S. forces.

— A month later the ISI said its governing council had selected Abu Baker al-Baghdadi al-Husseini al-Qurashi as its caliph, or head, and Abu Abdullah al-Hassani al-Qurashi as his deputy and first minister, replacing al-Baghdadi and al-Masri.

— Last October gunmen linked to the Iraqi al Qaeda group seized hostages at a Catholic church in Baghdad during Sunday mass. Around 52 hostages and police were killed in the incident, which ended when security forces raided the church to free around 100 Iraqi Catholic hostages.

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Tens of Thousands of Houthi Supporters Join Yemen Protests

Posted on 22 February 2011 by hashimilion

On Monday morning, tens of thousands of people from Saada, Sahar, Majz and Qatabeer took part in a demonstration in Dhahyan. Demonstrators called for the end of the regime and announced their support for the demonstrators in Aden, Abyan, Sanaa, Taiz.

The demonstrators said that the protests had reached the point of no return and actively encouraged others to join these peaceful protests.

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Two Killed as Clashes Escalate in Yemen

Posted on 18 February 2011 by hashimilion

Two antigovernment protesters in Yemen’s southern port of Aden died in fresh clashes Thursday, witnesses said, bringing the death toll in a recent spate of violent demonstrations against President Ali Abdullah Saleh to at least four.

In the capital San’a, thousands of protesters squared off with Saleh supporters in violent clashes at a main intersection Thursday morning and afternoon, according to witnesses.

The demonstrations in the capital were the latest and most raucous in a series of daily melees here, triggered by the resignation of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Opposition parties organized much larger, but peaceful, protests in San’a earlier in the month amid unrest elsewhere in the Arab world, following the January revolt in Tunisia. In response, Mr. Saleh has pledged economic and political reforms, including a promise not to run again in 2013.

Opposition leaders had called off more protests, but students and young activists have stepped into the void, organizing a series of smaller, impromptu demonstrations across town, which have drawn in crowds of armed government supporters.

Uniformed security forces weren’t in the vicinity during the San’a scuffles, in which protesters tore down a median barricade between the two sides and clashed with sticks, clubs, chains and makeshift weapons, like desk legs and pipes. Occasional shots rang out from guns fired into the air, but there were no reports of fatalities.

About two thousand took up positions on either side of one of the capital’s main intersections. Government supporters lobbed repeated volleys of stones, injuring dozens of protesters, many of whom retreated to a nearby hospital.

The two sides made occasional charges at each other, according to witnesses. Dumpsters and tires were set ablaze.

Pro-government demonstrators chanted “With our soul and our blood, we will sacrifice for Ali” as they clashed with opposition who shouted “The people want the regime to fall” and “After Mubarak then Ali.”

In the early afternoon, most antigovernment protesters marched out of the area toward San’a University, where about 200 gathered for another rally, according to witnesses. But about 20 minutes after they arrived, government supporters, armed with sticks, clubs and pipes, charged the group, sending the protesters fleeing for the gates of the university.

Many were caught trying to get through the narrow entrance and were beaten. Others fled into side streets.

The clashes marked the seventh consecutive day of violence in the capital. After a few hours, protesters and government supporters regrouped in front of San’a University in opposing rallies, but the atmosphere was much more festive, with both sides dancing at times. It was the first time that demonstrations in the capital extended into the night.

But in Aden, a restive town home to an active secessionist movement, protests have careened on through the evening. On Wednesday, witnesses said security forces opened fire on demonstrators in the city’s al Mansora neighborhood, killing two.

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Protests In Yemen Building Up

Posted on 18 February 2011 by hashimilion

For nearly a week thousands of Yemenis have been gathering in Sana’a, their capital, and in several other cities around the country. In Aden, the old capital of the south, two protesters were killed on February 16th. A demonstration the next day in Sana’a was bigger and bloodier than ever, posing still more of a threat to President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The unrest is getting more violent and more widespread.

When rallies were first held several weeks ago, they were organised by Yemen’s official opposition, known as the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), a hotch-potch of Islamists, socialists and others. But a new wave of protesters, including unemployed young people and frustrated students, are angrier. Whereas the JMP called for political and electoral reform, the latest protesters are chanting, “After Mubarak, Ali’s turn!”

The established opposition groups wrung quite big concessions out of Mr Saleh, including a promise to step down in 2013—without passing his baton to a son. The latest lot want an immediate change. The JMP leaders, by contrast, are nervy about an abrupt shift, wary that Yemenis are perhaps the most heavily armed people in the world.

In any event, the security forces have begun to crack down. On February 11th they stood by, as pro-government people beat up opposition demonstrators. Two days later riot police and plainclothes security men broke up a march of a thousand-odd people in Sana’a with clubs and electric batons. Journalists have been attacked; dozens of campaigners have been arrested or injured.

Parts of the country are in open revolt against the corrupt and oppressive regime in Sana’a. A tribal war persists in the north. A secessionist movement is bubbling in the south. Across the country, al-Qaeda cells are trying to topple the government and bring about a Muslim caliphate in the region. Rumours are swirling in the streets of Sana’a that cash is being moved to foreign bank accounts and assets liquidated in case members of the ruling circle need to leave in a hurry.

Mr Saleh has not reached that stage yet. The protests are still far smaller than those in Tunis or Cairo. Moreover, only a third of Yemenis live in towns; few have access to the internet or own mobile telephones. The president is a wily manipulator of the tribal politics that still dominates Yemen. But as the protests spread, he is far from safe.

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Protesters killed in Yemen clashes

Posted on 16 February 2011 by hashimilion

Police shot and killed two protester in Yemen’s main southern city of Aden, medics said, while unrest in the capital Sanaa against the rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president, continued for a sixth straight day.

Mohammed Ali Alwani, 21, was shot dead after clashes broke out between police and demonstrators, his father said. The other victim has not yet been identified.

Police in Aden fired shots into the air to try to break up around 500 protesters. Medics said one of the victims had been hit in the back.

The demonstrators hurled stones at police, set tyres and vehicles on fire and stormed a municipal building where heavy gunfire was heard.

Security forces, heavily deployed in Aden, arrested at least four people as they fired warning shots and tear gas to disperse protesters who had gathered at the Al-Ruweishat bus station in the Al-Mansura neighbourhood of Aden.

Protesters chanted “The people want to overthrow the regime” and “It’s time to leave, Ali”.

Several hurt

In the capital Sanaa, at least 10 protesters were hurt amid clashes between students demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and supporters of his ruling General People’s Congress.

Hundreds of students had set off for Al-Sabiine square near the presidential palace, only to be attacked by a like number of Saleh loyalists armed with batons, stones and daggers.

The protesters responded by hurling stones, and when the violence spread into the campus of Sanaa university, where the march began, police fired warning shots.

“The thugs and supporters of the ruling party … want to massacre” the students, the head of the university’s student union, Radwan Masud, said, adding that 10 students had been hurt.

He vowed that the students would “continue their revolt and will not be hindered by the ruling party’s actions.”

Elsewhere in Sanaa, a sit-in by judges demanding greater independence for the judiciary and the sacking of the entire Supreme Judicial Council, including the justice minister, went into its second day outside the justice ministry.

The judges, who have poured into Sanaa from all over Yemen, also want higher salaries.

In other protests, workers in Sanaa gathered at several state-owned companies to demand that their managers to step down. They too also called for higher wages.

On Tuesday, police in Sanaa stepped in when supporters and opponents of the president clashed, leaving three injured. In Taez, south of the capital, the two sides also clashed.

On Monday, rocks and batons flew in the capital as protesters – mainly students and lawyers – confronted police and Saleh’s supporters. Police also clashed with around 2,000 protesters in Sanaa on Sunday.

In the face of the unrest, Saleh has postponed a visit to the United States that had been planned for later this month, after the opposition agreed on Sunday to resume talks suspended since October.

Yemen is the poorest Gulf Arab state strategically located at the southwest corner of the Arabian peninsula.

Source Al Jazeera

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As Mubarak Resigns, Yemenis Call For A Revolution Of Their Own

Posted on 12 February 2011 by hashimilion

As jubilant protesters in Cairo celebrated the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Yemenis were calling for a revolution of their own.

In the southern port city of Yemen, protesters marched through the district of Mansoura, waving the old flag of South Arabia and chanting, “Revolution, revolution for the south.”

Just hours before, security forces had fired live ammunition during a protest on the same street, according to eyewitnesses. Hundreds more staged ad hoc demonstrations throughout Aden, as well as in other cities across Yemen’s south.

“After Hosni Mubarak, Yemen is going to be next. I know it,” said Zahra Saleh, a prominent secession activist watching the scenes in Cairo on TV in a small Aden office.

“Now our revolution has to be stronger,” declared Ali Jarallah, a leader in the southern separatist movement sitting with Ms. Saleh on the low cushions of a diwan.

Divergent aims of Yemeni protesters

The Yemeni southern secessionist movement is not calling for political reforms, an end to corruption or even for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, as the political opposition is doing in the capital of Sanaa. They are pushing for the end of what they view is northern Yemeni occupation and the restoration of an independent southern Yemeni state.

Though both derive momentum from the recent revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, the divergent aims of the Yemeni protesters represent another example of how anti-regime factions across the Arab world our shaping revolutionary energy to serve their own agendas.

“What happened in Egypt sent a blink of hope to the [southern] movement,” says Tammam Bashraheel, managing editor of Aden’s officially banned Al Ayyam newspaper.

Exiled southern movement leader and former Vice President Ali Salim Al Beidh said that events in the Arab world, and especially what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt, reflect a new stage in history that can be likened to the end of the cold war. Speaking to local press on Thursday, he compared the southern Yemeni demonstrations to Egypt, where youths have also played a central role.

“The revolution of the south is a revolution of the youth and younger generation,” said Mr. Beidh.

‘America supports oppressors’

In Sanaa, anti-government protests have focused on pressuring the ruling party to accept political reforms and are carried out in relative peace. However in Yemen’s south, the increased number of demonstrations since Tunisia’s uprising have been more violent.

“Demonstrations are allowed to happen in Sanaa without weapons, why do they use weapons on us in the south?” asks secession activist Wagdy Al Shaaby, who had just returned to Aden Friday afternoon from a protest of about 1,000 held in Zinjibar in neighboring Abyan province.

He also criticized the US for supporting its Arab allies, even when they resort to authoritarian measures in the name of stability.

“America is a democracy, but when to comes to the Arab world America supports oppressors,” he says. “America protects these countries until they blow up.”

Aden governor urges security, stability

In one Aden neighborhood, known for being a hotbed of secessionist sentiment, the old South Arabia flag is spray painted on building walls alongside posters of young man killed by security forces. Next to one Khaled Darwish poster was written a warning to the Yemeni government: “We are going to take revenge for you, Darwish.”

“If there continues to be no recognition of political rights here, [separatist activity] won’t stop,” says Mr. Bashraheel.

The fractured yet popular southern separatists argue that since unification of north and south Yemen in 1990, and especially after a bloody civil war between the two sides of the country in 1994, there has been a systematic attempt to erase the identity of south Yemen.

They claim that southerners don’t have proper representation in the central government, and that the government takes resources found in southern governorates, namely oil, without investing back in the south’s infrastructure.

Yemen’s government accuses separatists of harming national unity and stirring up trouble. On Thursday, Gov. Adnan Al Jafari of Aden told local press “security and stability are the responsibility of everyone.” He added, “We must learn from other countries that have lost their security and stability and use that in positive ways for our country.”

The government has also tried to link secessionists to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the regional terrorist franchise based in Yemen. AQAP, for its part, has sought to play on southerners’ grievances in order to unite the two groups against their common enemy, the Yemeni state. Separatists deny that they have any ties with AQAP, and instead blame the existence of Al Qaeda in Yemen on the Saleh regime.

A fast-closing window

Because clashes happen far from the eyes of international observers, it difficult to assess whether the perpetual violence in Yemen’s south between security forces and armed factions comes from Al Qaeda or harak, the Arabic name for southern separatists. However, what is certain is that this violence what has worried Western governments that destabilization in this area allows AQAP to move freely.

“The deterioration of the south would lead to instability of the entire countries and will definitely provide space for Al Qaeda to function. The southern separatist movement is not allied to Al Qaeda but the absence of state control gives Al Qaeda space to exist in areas that are controlled by harak,” said independent Yemeni political analyst Abdul-Ghani Al Iryani.

“The lack of unified leadership [in the separatist movement] makes it difficult for the government to reach a deal and therefore Harak will continue until the legitimate aspiration of the people of the south are achieved and that is still within the ability of the central government to provide in the context of unity, but I see that this window is fast closing,” he said.

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Zaydis in Yemen Enjoy a Revival

Posted on 01 February 2011 by hashimilion

A sophisticated and increasingly aggressive al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has propelled the Republic of Yemen to the top of the Obama administration’s war on terror priority list. Yet amid this news-catching and billion-dollar geopolitical struggle against religious extremism, Yemen is experiencing another important religious phenomenon.

Zaydism is a branch of Shi’i Islam distinct from its counterparts in Lebanon, Iraq, Iran or elsewhere. The story of Yemen’s Zaydi community begins in the late 9th century, when the Zaydi scholar Al-Hadi was invited by tribes in Yemen’s northern highlands to resolve their intractable disputes. Accepting Al-Hadi’s governance, these tribesmen ultimately were absorbed into a Zaydi universe, embracing Zaydi political authority, theology and law, in addition to their local tribal customs. In this part of Yemen, temporal power and religious doctrine were united in a uniquely Zaydi form of theocratic rule known as the Imamate. Though never permanent and rarely stable, at its pinnacle the Imamate’s influence extended from present-day Saudi Arabia in the northwest, to the Gulf of Aden in the south, to western Oman in the east. Particularly in Yemen’s northern highlands, history was defined by the activities of Zaydi rulers, judges, scholars and tribesmen.

For over a millennium, the Zaydis of Yemen enjoyed an unparalleled history of political rule, intellectual production and pious devotion.

This all changed dramatically with the Sept. 26, 1962 Republican Revolution. This decisive moment in Yemen’s modern history unleashed an eight-year civil war in North Yemen—South Yemen remaining under British control until 1967—between “nationalists” supported by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt who sought a new direction for the country, and “royalists” who continued to back the ruling Imam, supported by Saudi Arabia. Ultimately, it led to the Zaydi Imamate being replaced with a distinctly Republican and nationalist government, complete with modern bureaucratic institutions and a pronounced antagonism toward the former ruling Zaydi tradition.

The Revolution inaugurated a volatile era for Zaydi adherents in Yemen, and today this community sits on the fringes of Yemen’s public arenas of culture, religion and politics. For a tradition that once dominated large parts of Yemen, its present-day irrelevance is remarkable.

This marginalization has coincided and been reinforced by the “Sunnification” of Yemen. Over the last 40 years, the country has seen the growth of a loose but powerful alliance of political parties and ideological groups that share a commitment to Republican nationalism and Sunni-based reform. With roots in the Imamate period, this movement has promoted anti-Shi’i attitudes and built a potent wave of opposition to Zaydi thought and adherence throughout Yemen. Unlike al-Qaeda, these groups operate within the mainstream of the country’s religious, social and political spheres.

The most dramatic consequence of this phenomenon is the turning of large numbers of individuals and communities in historically Zaydi regions toward Sunni Islam. These range from what might be called “Zaydis in name only”—nominal Zaydis with minimal commitment to Zaydi Islam’s tenets and history (President Ali Abdullah Saleh being one example)—to aggressive opponents of Zaydi thought and practice. Significantly, this retreat from Zaydism has been part and parcel of the official state-building effort in Yemen, as the new Republican government sought to weaken the former ruling group and foster a national religious identity that transcended traditional boundaries and identifications. In doing so, it has consistently promoted alternative religious and political visions, while pushing the Zaydi tradition to the periphery of Yemeni society.

Whether in schools, media or the political sphere, this process continues today.

In fact, the very future of Zaydi Islam in Yemen is in question. The urgency is not lost on the Zaydis themselves, and in response their leaders are advocating for their community and religious tradition in several important ways.

The “Huthi conflict” is the most prominent example (see “Is Yemen Breaking Apart?” by Patrick Seale, November 2009 Washington Report, p. 31). The Huthis are a group of Zaydi sayyids (descendants of the Prophet Muhammad), supported by a wide range of tribal allies, who have been embroiled in escalating violence with the Yemeni government since 2004. The sixth round is now in the midst of a highly tenuous cease-fire. Although this crisis was sparked in the province of Sa’dah, historical capital of the Zaydi Imamate, the Huthis and their supporters have now formed a quasi-government in several of Yemen’s northern provinces. The conflict has severely drained the country’s national economy and produced large numbers of internally displaced people, although it only captured mainstream media attention last winter, when violence spilled into neighboring Saudi Arabia.

A Complex Crisis

Often mischaracterized as a religious struggle between a pro-Sunni regime and Shi’i separatists, this complex crisis cannot be pigeonholed into one of pure sectarian interests. It was stoked—and is maintained—by several interrelated factors, including longstanding historical grievances, tribal loyalties, access to government services and the political legitimacy of the Saleh regime. Furthermore, the Huthis’ stated goals continue to evolve and have ranged from the right to express religious slogans, to application of the Yemeni constitution, to basic self-defense.

Viewing the relationship between Zaydis and the Yemeni state through the lens of the Huthi conflict would be a mistake, as the Huthis represent a political-religious movement that emerged in the specific context of Sa’dah and its vicinity. Still, the situation does allude to a much broader struggle since 1962: one over Zaydis’ communal identity and rights in the Republic of Yemen. In many ways, this crisis is characteristic of the challenges confronting the Zaydi community in Yemen today. On the one hand, it has led to intensified repression and further marginalization in both official and popular spheres. Yet it also reflects a broader pattern of renewed advocacy for Zaydi thought, history and identity.

Zaydi adherents point to a “Zaydi revival” since Yemen’s Unification in 1990, emerging in the context of a nationwide loosening of restrictions on diverse ideologies, whether Zaydi, socialist or otherwise.

The lion’s share of this advocacy reflects a political quietism. These efforts focus on educational outreach and publishing Zaydi texts, especially as dwindling knowledge of Zaydi Islam has coincided with the rapid spread of anti-Zaydi thought. For example, at the Imam Zayd bin Ali Cultural Foundation in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, thousands of Zaydi manuscripts have been digitized and catalogued in an effort to make these seminal texts accessible to the Yemeni public and beyond.

Key Zaydi scholars are also reinterpreting core Zaydi doctrines to reflect contemporary realities and sensibilities, and, ultimately, to make their tradition more relevant in Yemen today. One example is the classical Zaydi concept of khuruj, which refers to the imam’s “rising up” in rebellion against an unjust government—a doctrine frequently cited to demonstrate the Zaydi threat. A number of Zaydi scholars now speak of a “constitutional khuruj.” Stressing Zaydism’s unequivocal commitment to political justice, they have transformed the means for undertaking khuruj from physical seizure of power to nonviolent and democratic change.

Regardless, entering the realm of Yemeni politics is precarious, especially for Zaydis labeled as “strict,” or those with a more pronounced ideological commitment to their tradition. Politically active Zaydis are forced to walk a treacherous tightrope of criticizing the Saleh regime’s behavior on the one hand and expressing allegiance to the Yemeni state on the other. While that may hardly seem revolutionary (particularly considering the high levels of nationwide opposition), for the Zaydi community accusations of disloyalty or sectarian fanaticism are inevitable.

Many Zaydis blame the regime for exploiting an unfair choice: demonstrate your allegiance to the Republic and support this particular regime, including its controversial actions in Sa’dah; or, alternatively, criticize it, meaning your loyalty lies with your community alone or even outside the state. The Huthi conflict has only heightened the government’s paranoia of Zaydi activism.

Zaydi advocates are breaking down that choice. As loyal Yemenis and committed Zaydis, they assert their individual rights as Yemeni citizens and their collective rights as members of the Zaydi community. Not only do they seek to remind Yemenis of Zaydism’s decisive role in the country’s history, ancient and modern, they also insist that the contemporary Republic is more than simply an anti-Imamate or anti-Zaydi state. Instead, they are adamant that it must embody the Islamic (including Zaydi) and Republican principles of justice, democracy and development. While they may object to the 1962 Revolution’s ultimate course, epitomized in Zaydism’s present-day marginalization, they defend the transformations it wrought as a progression toward ideals they embrace but that remain unrealized.

In doing so, these activists represent the repression of Zaydism as a national issue—rather than a communal one—that reflects the ongoing struggle of all Yemenis to build a country defined by equality, freedom of belief, security and prosperity. Although the Zaydi community’s disenfranchisement has a distinct ideological tenor, this story of conflict, underdevelopment and political manipulation is indeed a national one in Yemen today. Essentially, these Zaydis have placed their community and their country on a parallel trajectory toward democracy and justice. Some even depict the divisive Huthi insurgency, which has cost the Zaydi community dearly in terms of public image and reputation, as an essential part of this larger Yemeni struggle.

These Zaydi leaders are advocating for what they believe are Zaydism’s singular solutions to Yemen’s political and social crises. (As one example, they contend that its spread will provide a significant elixir to Yemen’s religious extremism problem.) If successful, they will take the question “is Zaydism disappearing in Yemen today?” and redefine it as “are the ideals of the Revolution disappearing in Yemen today?” Whether through political and human rights advocacy or educational outreach, they are working to ensure that the answer to both questions is “No.”

By James R. King is an independent analyst, specializing in Zaydism, Yemen and the broader Middle East.

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