First Published: 2005-04-14

 
Zaidi extremists pose problem for Yemen
 

Zaidi community, dominant Sunnis have lived in harmony in Yemen for many centuries.

 

Middle East Online

By Hammoud Mounassar - SANAA

Hundreds killed in armed clashes

The deaths of hundreds of rebels from Yemen's minority Zaidi sect have plunged the group into disarray but not lifted the threat of more bloodshed based on their anti-US stand and opposition to what they term the "illegitimate" Sanaa regime.

More than 400 people were killed on both sides during a three-month revolt which began in June 2004 led by Hussein Badr Eddin al-Huthi, and whose death in clashes last year led the Yemeni government to declare the uprising over.

A fresh rebellion since late March, this time led by Huthi's father Badr Eddin, and ground commanders including the former leader's brother Abdul Malak, resulted in a death toll of some 280.

Earlier this week, the authorities declared the "sedition" crushed, despite the fact that all the leaders of the latest uprising were still at large and that the group was estimated to have 3,000 supporters before the June revolt.

Badr Eddin, is considered now to be the spiritual leader of the rebels who emerged from his son's extremist Faithful Youth movement, formed in 1997.

"Hussein al-Huthi does not represent me. He doesn't represent the Zaidi sect," said Mortadha Zaid al-Mahturi, who heads the Badr Centre in Sanaa, referring to the new leader's son.

The centre is responsible for the teachings of Zaidism.

The Shiite Muslim Zaidi sect is dominant in northwestern Yemen but in the minority in the mainly Sunni country.

Zaidis, who take their name from the imam Zaid, recognised as the fifth and last imam, are generally considered as moderate and tolerant. They represent nearly 30 percent of Yemen's population of more than 21 million.

Many Zaidi scholars also do not recognise the Faithful Youth movement which they denounced after the first round of fighting, during which nearly 800 rebels were captured and who are still detained.

The rebels are also denounced by the moderate current within the Zaidi community, whose members include Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Sheikh Abdullah bin Hussein al-Ahmar, speaker of parliament and head of the main opposition Islamist Al-Islah party.

The Zaidi dynasty, which came to Yemen in 879, originated from Jebel Al-Rass in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Medina.

The sect does not recognise the legitimacy of the regime, which took power after overthrowing the Zaidi leadership in a military coup known as the Revolution of September 26, 1962.

The president recently branded Zaidi rebels as "subversive, reactionary and backward." Their slain leader was accused by the authorities of seeking to foment sectarian strife, "harm national unity and social peace."

In July last year, Saleh claimed "foreign parties" were supporting the rebellion, but did not name them.

Huthi had served as a member of parliament's Islamist opposition movement Al-Haq before breaking away to form the Faithful Youth organisation.

In 2003, he started to organise anti-American demonstrations across the country, which alarmed the authorities.

He then took up position in his stronghold of Maran, in the province of Saada near the border with Saudi Arabia, along with an estimated 3,000 supporters, and from there launched his revolt.

Huthi said in an interview before the June revolt that the conflict was a result of his anti-US stance.

"I am working for the propagation of the Koran and the fight against the United States and Israel," he said, branding the Yemeni president a "tyrant who does not have any legitimacy ... and who wants to please America and Israel, by sacrificing the blood of his own people."

Yemen is viewed by Washington as an important partner in the war on terror as it continues to crack down on suspected Islamic extremists since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

 

US backs Saudi-led intervention in Yemen

Saudi-led coalition keeps up raids against Yemen rebels

Assad says open to dialogue with US

US lawmakers threaten Iran with new sanctions

Oil prices fall after Yemen-inspired gains

Turkish parliament passes security bill after long debate

Turkey army chief of staff visits historic tomb inside Syria

Heavy Saudi raids force Sanaa residents to flee

Israeli Arab MP walks for Bedouins

Gulf stocks regain ground after early losses over Yemen

Kerry presses Iran on nuclear deal before deadline

Somali pirates seize Iranian fishing vessel

Borse Dubai sells big stake in London Stock Exchange

Can Arabs form joint military force?

Libya rivals discuss UN-backed peace proposals

French President to join 'anti-terror' march in Tunis

Sisi underscores Egypt’s rights to tap Nile water

US-led coalition aircraft bomb Tikrit

Saudi warplanes strike Yemen rebels in Sanaa

Netanyahu to form Israel new government after shock victory

Turkey military responds to Kurdish attacks in southeast

Leaders see horror of air crash as investigators step up probe

Fistfight in Iraqi Kurdish parliament

Syria rebels seize ancient town of Busra Sham

UN reveals plethora of abuses against activists in Libya

IS attack kills 5 militia fighters in Libya city of Sirte

Yemen President ‘in safety’ as rebel forces advance

US considering launching air strikes on Tikrit

Yemen Huthis seizes key airbase near Aden

'Feminist' policy costing dear to Sweden

Obama says row with Netanyahu ‘substantive’

Tunisia honours victims of deadly attack on national museum

Roadside bomb kills two Egypt soldiers in restive Sinai

‘Islamic State’ woos Syria children with money: More than 400 recruited in 2015 alone

Huthi-led militia push on southern Yemen

US envoy to Libya leaves Twitter after barrage of online abuse

US provides 'eye in the sky' to support Iraq Tikrit operation

Turkey prosecutors launch probe as ruling party rift grows

German airliner crashes in southern France with 150 on board

Egypt sacks spokesman who said Shaima al-Sabbagh was too thin

At least 30 killed in central Yemen clashes

Tunisia national museum reopening delayed over security concerns

Kuwait riot police disperse small opposition protest

Netanyahu apologises to Arab Israeli voters

Libyan pro-got warplanes target weapons depot near Tripoli