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Huthi crisis will weaken central government in Yemen

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Significance

The situation in Yemen has deteriorated rapidly after January's takeover of central government by the northern rebel group Ansar Allah, also known as the Huthi movement, and the subsequent resignations of Hadi and Bahah. With tribes and local groups in Sunni-majority areas preparing to resist the Huthi coup, Yemen faces a high risk of wide-scale conflict that could lead towards civil war and failed state status.

Impacts

  • In a worst-case scenario, violence would escalate into civil war that assumes a sectarian character and draws in Iran and Saudi Arabia.
  • Al-Qaida will seek to capitalise on the vacuum, increasing attacks on the Huthis to position itself as the defender of Sunni Islam.
  • The Southern Movement would push for secession while other regions could also try to break from Sana'a's control.
  • Foreign powers have limited leverage influence over the Huthis and thus also over the outcome of negotiations.
  • The Huthis may moderate their position due to Yemen's fragile economy, which depends on substantial international support.
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