Political Analysis

Militarization of Houthis, Herak Causes Concern

National Yemen

Militarization of Houthis, Herak Causes Concern

By NY Staff

The presence of non-governmental military formations in Yemen has been increasing in a very public way. Separatist forces in the south and rebel groups in the north have both been organizing military demonstrations in cities and towns across Yemen, drawing the attention and notice of both citizens and government forces.

In addition to the military formations, Yemen has recently witnessed growing activity among al-Qaeda and armed tribes. Some experts believe that Yemen’s ongoing weapons proliferation threatens the country’s security and stability along with Yemen’s unity and the existence of the State itself.

Some of the military displays have been very impressive shows of power, such as the demonstration made by the separatist southern movement al-Herak in Aden. In the first event of its kind, hundreds of southern soldiers gathered to protest northern offenses on September 1st, a date formerly celebrated as Army Day in the former South.

Hundreds of miles north, the Houthi militia that currently controlling Sa’ada province have recently appeared wearing military garb resembling the uniform of Iranian Guard forces. Such behavior was once encouraged by former Houthi leader Hussein Badr Eddin al-Huthi, who was killed by government troops during the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In an address to al-Jazeera Net, military expert Dean Thabet Hussein said that in the past year Yemen has suffered from weakness in all the aspects of society and security in particular. The former president did not care about the security of the homeland and its citizens, said Hussein, as his interests lay solely in his personal security and the continuation of power for as long as possible.

 Thabet considers the Yemen of 2011 a failed state, as it led to the presence of armed, non-government groups and the division of the Yemen army during the youth revolution of that year. From this point, Yemen continued down the slippery road of security, economic, and political deterioration.

Thabet discussed the six wars between Houthi members and government forces, describing the process by which al-Houthi army was formed during these conflicts. Houthi fighters acquired a large stockpile of government weapons through varied channels, and with the assistance of strong external support they managed to take and maintain control of the Sa’ada governorate as well as some parts of Amran, Hajjah, and al-Jawf.

Dean Thabet called on Yemen to establish control over the country. Before this, however, Yemen must first solve its complex political problems, and on top of those the issues of south and Sa’ada.

Regarding al-Herak’s military display in Aden, Thabet stated that this show was a message to the authority in Sana’a, intended to draw the attention of injustices perpetrated against Southern army forces in the 1994 civil war.

Chief Editor of The Gulf Newspaper Abdulrguib al-Hudaani believes Herak’s recent military show demonstrates that the unsuccessful peaceful methods employed by the movement over their seven-year struggle were not their only option. Had they wished, they could have pursued non-peaceful means of resistance as well.

In an address to Al Jazeera Net, al-Hudaani suggested that the military show was meant as a message to the National Dialogue Conference in Sana’a . The sponsors of the Gulf Initiative have stated that military demobilization of southern forces after their defeat in 1994 was likely the impetus behind the southern movement. Those soldiers retain their military skill, which they may find need to employ if they do not receive fair treatment in the Conference’s outcomes on the southern issue.

Al-Hudaani further opined that al-Herak is not innocent of raising arms in the face of state. A number of clashes between government forces and the southern movement have cause the death of dozens of military and security members, he said.

In the same context, political analyst Yassin al-Tamimi sees the emergence of non-governmental militarization as a serious indicator of state fraction. Military activity outside of government control runs contrary to the aims of political settlement and the process of building a modern democratic civil state, says al-Tamimi.

Al-Tamimi added that regionalism also plays a role in this phenomenon. The donning of Iranian Guard demonstrates a clear sign of solidarity with Iran, suggesting the possibility of retaliatory activity should foreign powers engage in a direct strike against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus, which has received considerable support from Teheran. Such retaliation would pull Syria’s conflict into a wider geographic scope, harming the interests of America and its allies in the region.

Al-Tamimi concluded with an observation that violent responses to an American strike could take place in Yemen at the hands of uncontrolled forces or in other countries of the region on behalf of Iran.