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  • How Iran's Protests could hit the Wider Middle East
    • The token support given to the Houthis in Yemen by Iran hardly amounts to funding the war in Yemen. Iranian support, either by cash or in military material, has been minimal. The Iranians have had the best of it in Yemen. They have done very little, but been given loads of credit by the Saudis, some in the US and others.

      There is also a clear sectarian angle to much of the support being given to the protests in Iran. It is impossible to talk about anything like this today in the Middle East without having it touch on sectarian politics.

  • How Trump's Jerusalem Move Just Helped Iran Win the Mideast
    • I am sure Trump couldn't have planned this out, but others in his administration could have. A negative blowback on the US and it's troops would be a desired outcome for many in the administration, those who have been angling for a war against Iran since they took office.

  • The War in Yemen is Political, Ecological: Forget Sunnis and Shiites
    • Sunnis and Shi'a, historically, have not fought on sectarian grounds in Yemen. In Yemen the politics almost always center around ideological movements or personalities. The Houthis themselves are a good example of this. The western media paints them as a Shi'ite organisation, even a proxy for Iran. The truth is there are Sunni members and tribes who are members of, and working with, the Houthis. Some of the strongest opposition to the Houthis comes from within the Zaidi community itself.

      I look back at the events in 1948 in Yemen when I see events today. The aborted "Al Waziri" coup saw a diverse group of Yemenis, both Sunni and Shi'a, who tried to overthrow the corrupt Imamate, itself Shi'a. The leader of the al-Wazir coup was Zaidi, but the group itself was formed of people and groups from all walks of life and included the heads of most of the major tribal groupings. The Sacred National Charter, the document drafted by this group, included some elements that came from Zaidi beliefs, but was more related to the national movements of the time. In a twist to this, the people involved actually worked with Hassan al Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood. Who, in this day, would ever think of Shi'a working with the Muslim Brotherhood on a national level to foment a revolution? But that is Yemen.

      There are those trying to make this into a sectarian struggle, but their immediate goals are of a political nature. The Saudis have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in Yemen, exported their ultra-Salafiyah theology into the country. They have helped and supported Islamist groups such as al Islah, and AQAP. As to under representation, this goes many ways.

      Yes, the Zaidis were under represented, but so was the South. There were many promises made to the South prior to unification and almost none of them have been kept. There were multiple peoples in Yemen who were under represented. Tobias claims that Zaidis set up rule after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, but that is not exactly correct. There has been some form of Zaidi Imamate/Kingship in Yemen since 897.

      This, in no way, means that the Zaidis of Yemen in the last 40+ years have not been discriminated against. Saleh, himself a Zaidi, sought to repress the Zaidi community of the north. There was a conscious move to delegitimize the Zaidis, to even soften their religious views. One could view it almost as an attempted "Sunnification" of the Zaidi community. This mistreatment as well as an awakening of the Zaidi identity starting in the 1980s in the face of hostile government treatment and rising influence of the Salafiyah spurred the Zaidi revivialist movement from which the Houthis were born. The Houthis, were initially a non violent group composed of other groups like the Young Believers. It was only when the state murdered their leader and launched military actions against the Houthis that they took up arms.

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