Al-Houthi’s insurgency resumes controversy [Archives:2004/781/Opinion]

October 14 2004

Hassan Al-Zaidi
The controversial speech delivered by HE President Saleh on Sunday 26 September, the 42nd anniversary of the Revolution, is the first of its kind since the birth of 1962 Revolution, which toppled the tyrannous Imamate that had ruled the Northern part of Yemen for the 44 years following the departure of the Ottomans.
What resumed this kind of speech was the recent events in Sa'ada, led by the Cleric Hussein Al-Houthi, who was killed after eighty days of bloody clashes in the M'rran mountains.
In his speech, the President focused on the issue of the Imamate, and the radical rule by saying “when talking about Hamid Addin dynasty, we do not call them Imamate or monarchy, but a backward and clerical leadership”. The President also described them as a group of dervishes who pretended knowledge.
Afterwards, President Saleh talked about Al-Houthi's insurgency directly, confirming that it resulted in streams of blood from both the army and citizens who volunteered to help crack down on the rebellion. Al-Houthi's intention was to expand the insurgency into Dhamar, Al-Beidha, Hajjah, Al-Mahweet, Al-Jawf and Marib.
The speech attacked the Sa'ada insurgency led by Cleric Hussein Al-Houthi who belonged to the Hashimite dynasty in Yemen, and who wanted to rule the country because of his ethnic Zaidi thoughts.
The political arena in Yemen is paying more attention to this issue; many politicians approve of the fact that such radical currents exist, while others are of the point of view that talking about it 42 years after toppling the Imamate rule, turns attention away from discussing corruption, poor administration by the government, unemployment and economic recession. The recent battle regurgitated concepts and terms believed to have been buried since the toppling of the Imamate reign.
This speech comes after a cold war between state-run and opposition newspapers that took place during and after the bloody clashes in Sa'ada, and resulted in the shutting down of Al-Shura newspaper, which belongs to the People's Forces Union Party. The government claims that its leaders are the remainder of Hamid Addine dynasty.
There is as current of the view that engaging public opinion in addressing the Imamate thoughts attributed to Al-Houthi and its stand towards the republican regime provides a chance for the government to avoid political and economic reform. This current accuses the authority of a policy of supporting and sponsoring religious groups like Al-Houthi and employing them against the political enemies of the regime. This threatens the republican regime, which contains figures of various parties.
Another current views the Imamate as still constituting a threat to the state, as it is based upon a deep-rooted traditional culture and a balanced membership, which may enable it to be a prominent party in the country. The members of the Imamate current are dispersed throughout many Yemeni parties, including the ruling one. Additionally, they are linked, not only by a goal, but also by kin relationships, and complicated political, religious and social privileges.
Observers see that Yemen will remain an area of ethnic and racial conflict, unless there is a well-organized policy to govern all the existing currents in Yemen, as well as to manipulate extremist thoughts and views.