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How Iran’s Islamic Revolution Does, and Does Not, Influence Houthi Rule in Northern Yemen

By Mohammed Almahfali and James Root


at the Houthis are adherents of the Zaidi sect of Shia Islam has invited comparisons of the movement’s actions to the Iranian regime and the establishment of the Islamic republic following the fall of the monarchy in Tehran in 1979. Some Houthi adversaries have gone as far as alleging that the Houthis have converted to Twelver Shiism, seek to remodel Yemen along Iranian Twelver lines and to become themselves a Yemeni version of Lebanon’s Hezbollah.The available evidence does not bear out these accusations, but instead points to a relationship between Tehran and the Houthis that is far more nuanced. What this relationship is and what it is not, with its domestic, regional and international complexities, can be clarified somewhat by analyzing the ideological and theological underpinnings of both groups, and the power structures that currently govern Sana’a and large parts of northern Yemen. A preliminary reading of the structure of the Houthi regime and an examination of its discourse and imagery shows that the Houthis are in part indebted to the Islamic Republic of Iran for establishing a body of language, symbols of resistance and revolution, as well as an organizational structure to draw on

Topics: Political Science, Yemen, Yemen Civil War, Houthis, Ansar Allah, Iran, Islamic Revolution
Publisher: Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies
Year: 2020
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