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Ash-Shabab al-Muminin (الشباب المؤمن,)
Believing Youth (BY)
Participant in Shia insurgency in Yemen, Yemeni Revolution and Syrian Civil War[1]
Active 1994-Present (armed since 2004)
Ideology Zaydi Shi'a Islamism
Groups Houthi tribe, other Shi'a tribes in Sa'dah
Leaders Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi
Abdul-Malik al-Houthi
Headquarters Sa'dah, Yemen
Area of
North Yemen and South-Western Saudi Arabia
Strength 100,000[2]
Allies  Iran
File:Leb.tif Hezbollah
al-Abbas brigade[citation needed]
Syrian Resistance[citation needed]
Jaysh al-Muwahhideen[citation needed]
South Yemen Movement (alleged)[3]
Opponents Yemen Yemeni Government
 Saudi Arabia (2009-2010)
Battles/wars Shia insurgency in Yemen
Syrian Civil War[5]

The Houthis (Arabic language: الحوثيون‎ = al-Ḥūthiyyūn; alternately: (al-)Houthis) are a Zaidi Shia insurgent group operating in Yemen. They have also been referred to as a "powerful clan,"[6] and by the title Ash-Shabab al-Mu'min (Arabic language: الشباب المؤمن‎, translated as Believing Youth (BY)[7] or Youthful Believers).[8] The group takes its name from Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, their former commander, who was reportedly killed by Yemeni army forces in September 2004.[9] Several other commanders, including, Ali al-Qatwani, Abu Haider, Abbas Aidah and Yousuf al-Madani (a son-inlaw of Hussein al-Houthi) have also been killed by Yemeni forces.[10] The Houthi brothers' father Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi is said to be the spiritual leader of the group.[8]



Membership of the group had between 1,000 and 3,000 fighters as of 2005[11] and between 2,000 and 10,000 fighters as of 2009.[12] In the Yemen Post it was claimed, however, that they had over 100,000 fighters.[13] According to Houthi Expert Ahmed Al-Bahri the Houthis had a total of 100,000-120,000 followers, including both armed fighters and unarmed loyalists.[14]

Territorial control

Through their armed uprising, the Houthis have managed to gain control over all of Saada Governorate and parts of 'Amran Governorate, Al Jawf Governorate and Hajjah Governorate.[15]

By 9 November 2011, Houthis were said to be in control of two Yemeni governorates (Sa'dah and al-Jawf) and close to taking over their third governorate (Hajjah),[16] which would enable them to launch a direct assault on Yemeni capital Sana'a.[17] By May 2012, it was reported that Houthis controlled a majority of Sa'dah, al-Jawf and Hajjah governorates, had gained access to the Red Sea and had started erecting barricades north of the capital Sana'a in preparation for new conflict.[18]


The Houthis have asserted that their actions are for the defence of their community from the government and discrimination, though the Yemeni government has in turn accused them of wishing to bring it down and institute Shia religious law[19] (Houthis have told people they are “praying in the wrong way” by raising their arms, as is the custom among Sunnis in Yemen),[20] destabilise the government and "stirring anti-American sentiment."[21]

The Yemeni government has also accused the Houthis of having ties to external backers, especially the Iranian government (as Iran is a Shia-majority country).[22] In turn, the Houthis have countered with allegations that the Yemeni government is being backed by virulently anti-Shia external backers including al-Qaeda and the government of Saudi Arabia[23][24][25] (despite the fact that then President Ali Abdullah Saleh is also Zaidi[26]).


  • Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi - Ex-leader (killed in 2004)
  • Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi - Leader
  • Yahia Badreddin al Houthi - Serior Leader
  • Abdul-Karim Badreddin al-Houthi - High ranking commander
  • Badr Eddin al-Houthi - Spiritual Leader (died in 2010)
  • Abdullah al-Ruzami - Ex-military commander
  • Abu Ali Abdullah al-Hakem al-Houthi - Military commander
  • Mohammed Abdulsalam
  • Saleh Habra - Political leader[27]
  • Faris Manna - Houthi appointed governor of Sa'adah[28] and former head of Saleh's Presidential committee[29]


Dark red=full control, Red=partial control, light red=active

The Houthis' independent administration includes the following territories:

  • All of Sa'adah Governorate[30]
  • Parts of 'Amran Governorate including:
    • Harf Sufyan District[31]
    • Huth District[32]
    • Shaharah District[33]
    • Raydah District[34]
  • Majority of Al Jawf Governorate,[35] including:
  • 40% of Hajjah Governorate,[40] including:
    • Kuhlan Ash Sharaf District[41]
    • Al Mahabishah District (partial control)[42]
    • Abs District (partial control)[43]
    • Aslem District (partial control)[43]
    • Khayran Al Muharraq District (partial control)[43]
    • Ku'aydinah District (partial control)[42]
    • Kushar District (partially control)[44]
    • Midi District (partial control)[43]
    • Mustaba District (partial control)[45]
    • Qafl Shamer District (partial control)[42]
    • Ash Shahil District (partial control)[46]
    • Washhah District (partial control)[45]
  • Parts of Sana'a Governorate including strong presence in:
  • Parts of Al Mahwit Governorate including strong presence in:
    • Shibam Kawkaban District[47]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Solomon, Ariel Ben (31 May 2013). "Report: Yemen Houthis fighting for Assad in Syria". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  2. Houthis Kill 24 in North Yemen, 27, November, 2011
  3. "Iran backing Yemen militants to increase regional influence: expert". National Post. 30 October 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  4. Al-Qaeda Announces Holy War against Houthis
  5. ARIEL BEN SOLOMON (31 May 2013). "Report: Yemen Houthis fighting for Assad in Syria". Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  6. What Is Yemen's Houthi Rebellion? By Pierre Tristam
  7. "Monographs". RAND. 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 John Pike. "al-Shabab al-Mum?en / Shabab al-Moumineen (Believing Youth)". Global Security. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  9. Deaths in Yemeni mosque blast. Al Jazeera. 2 May 2008.
  10. Press TV Saudi soldier, Houthi leaders killed in north Yemen, 19 November 2009
  11. Philips, Sarah (28 July 2005). Cracks in the Yemeni System. Middle East Report Online.
  12. "Pity those caught in the middle". The Economist. 19 November 2009. 
  13. "Thousands Expected to die in 2010 in Fight against Al-Qaeda". Yemen post. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  14. Ahmed Al-Bahri: Expert in Houthi Affairs, 10 April 2010
  15. The Muslim News Yemen after Saleh: A future fraught with violence, 27 May 2011
  16. "Houthis Close to Control Hajjah Governorate, Amid Expectations of Expansion of Control over Large Parts of Northern Yemen". Islam Times. 29 November 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  17. "Al-Houthi Expansion Plan in Yemen Revealed". Yemen Post. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  18. "New war with al-Houthis is looming". Yemen observer. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  19. "Deadly blast strikes Yemen mosque". BBC News. 2 May 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2009. 
  20. Yemen's war: Pity those caught in the middle
  21. Sultan, Nabil (10 July 2004). Rebels have Yemen on the hop. Asia Times Online.
  22. "Cable Viewer". Wikileaks. 17 February 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  23. "Saudi, al-Qaeda support Yemen crackdown on Shias". Press TV. 29 August 2009. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  24. "Al-Qaeda Fighting for Yemeni Government Against Houthi Shia Rebels...". 29 December 2009. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  25. "Yemen employs al-Qaeda mercenaries: Houthis". Press TV. 28 October 2009. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  26. "Ali Abdullah Saleh Al-Ahmar". 26 June 2006. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  27. "Meetings push government and Houthis closer towards "reconciliation"". Yemen Times. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  28. "Middle East". Arab News. Retrieved 23 January 2013. [dead link]
  29. "Sana’a Cards to Pressurize Houthis to Enter New Dialogue Rounds". Yemen Post. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  30. Yemeni regime loses grip on four provinces
  31. Houthis Expanding Outside Sa’ada
  32. (page 14)
  33. "الصحوة نت - Houthi militants storm school in Amran". Alsahwa. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  34. [1]
  35. Medics: Militants raid Yemen town, killing dozens
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 "Houthi Group Builds Checkpoints after Deadly Car Bomb Blast". Yemen Post. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  38. "Picking up the pieces". Al Ahram Weekly. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  39. 24 Houthis Killed in Car Bomb Blast in Jawf
  40. "Houthi Fails in Revolution Exam". Yemen Fox. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  41. Al-Houthi Expansion Plan in Yemen Revealed
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 "Truce shook on between Houthis, Al-Shahel tribesmen in Hajja". Yemen Times. 30 August 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 43.3 "Yemeni minister: Iranian RG advised Houthis to control Midi port". Yemen Fox. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  44. Two Houthis killed in clashes with Hajjah tribesmen
  45. 45.0 45.1 "Yemen’s Huthi Movement in the Wake of the Arab Spring". Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  46. "Houthi, tribesmen confrontations leave two women dead; locals fear escalation to war". The Free Online Library. 27 August 2012.,+tribesmen+confrontations+leave+two+women+dead%3B+locals+fear...-a0300851337. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  47. 47.0 47.1 47.2 47.3 "Houthis seek to take control over Sana'a". Yemen Fox. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 

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