Mohammed Ali al-Houthi

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi is a member of the Houthi government in Yemen, which the extremist group created after occupying the country’s capital of Sanaa and seizing power in 2015. Houthi is a former president of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee (SRC), the Houthis’ interim government instituted after dissolving Yemen’s parliament in February 2015. He is also a member of the Supreme Political Council (SPC), the SRC’s successor governing body.Rod Nordland, “Rebels in Yemen Say They Intend to Form a New Government,” New York Times, February 6, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/07/world/middleeast/yemen-rebels-say-they-will-dissolve-parliament.html?_r=1; “Houthi militia installs ‘presidential council’ to run Yemen,” Middle East Eye, February 3, 2015, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/houthi-militia-installs-presidential-council-run-yemen; “SRC hands over authority to SPC,” Yemen News Agency, August 15, 2016, http://sabanews.net/en/news437023.htm. Houthi is a cousin of Houthi military leader Abdel Malek al-Houthi.“Houthi militia installs ‘presidential council’ to run Yemen,” Middle East Eye, February 3, 2015, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/houthi-militia-installs-presidential-council-run-yemen.

The Houthis have waged a series of bloody insurgencies against the Yemeni government since 2004, overthrowing them and seizing power in Sanaa in 2015.Ahmed al-Haj, “Yemen Shiite Rebels Harden Their Protest Demands,” Associated Press, August 25, 2014, https://wtop.com/news/2014/08/yemen-shiite-rebels-harden-their-protest-demands/; Rod Nordland, “Rebels in Yemen Say They Intend to Form a New Government,” New York Times, February 6, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/07/world/middleeast/yemen-rebels-say-they-will-dissolve-parliament.html?_r=1. On February 3, 2015, the Houthis dissolved Yemen’s parliament and replaced it with the SRC. Mohammed Ali al-Houthi signed the declaration of the new government, which also declared him president of the SRC.Rod Nordland, “Rebels in Yemen Say They Intend to Form a New Government,” New York Times, February 6, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/07/world/middleeast/yemen-rebels-say-they-will-dissolve-parliament.html?_r=1; “Houthi militia installs ‘presidential council’ to run Yemen,” Middle East Eye, February 3, 2015, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/houthi-militia-installs-presidential-council-run-yemen; Hesham S. Al-Kibsi, “Al-Houthi: Hadi’s Retraction From Resignation A Desperate Attempt For Violence,” Yemen Observer, March 21, 2015, https://archive.is/20150404135044/http://yemenobserver.com/front-page/1386-al-houthi-hadi%E2%80%99s-retraction-from-resignation-a-desperate-attempt-for-violence.html#selection-717.1-717.79. Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf Cooperation Council refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Houthi takeover and labeled it a coup.Mohammed Ghobari, “Gulf countries, opposition say Houthi takeover in Yemen a ‘coup,’” Reuters, February 7, 2015, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security/gulf-countries-opposition-say-houthi-takeover-in-yemen-a-coup-idUSKBN0LB07220150207. The SRC transferred authority to the SPC in 2016.“SPC member to German’s Der Spiegel: Yemen has become a test bed for American weapons Saba – Yemen News Agency, October 7, 2020, https://www.saba.ye/en/news3111474.htm.

On March 25, 2015, a Saudi-led Arab coalition began a military campaign against the Houthis in Sanaa. Houthi was wounded the first night of the campaign.“Saudis launch air campaign to defend Yemen government,” Al Jazeera, last updated March 26, 2015, http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/3/25/houthi-aden.html. That November, he sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon calling for the U.N. Security Council to end the Saudi-led military operation against the Houthis.“HRC Chairman holds UN, UNSC accountable for stopping aggression,” Saba Yemen News Agency, November 11, 2015, https://www.saba.ye/en/news409307.htm. Houthi has referred to Saudi Arabia’s lack of a U.N. Security Council mandate to launch military strikes on Yemen as a “great crime.”Susanne Koelbl, “Yemen’s Houthi Rebel Leader – ‘The Americans Label Anyone Who Opposes Their Policy as Terrorists,’” Spiegel International, October 5, 2020, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/yemen-s-houthi-rebel-leader-the-americans-label-anyone-who-opposes-their-policy-as-terrorists-a-204840c1-055f-4d06-abdb-c4de7c7c1384.

Houthi claims his group wants peace in Yemen and is prepared to accept a ceasefire, but only if there is an end to the blockade of the country and the Arab coalition’s military strikes.Susanne Koelbl, “Yemen’s Houthi Rebel Leader – ‘The Americans Label Anyone Who Opposes Their Policy as Terrorists,’” Spiegel International, October 5, 2020, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/yemen-s-houthi-rebel-leader-the-americans-label-anyone-who-opposes-their-policy-as-terrorists-a-204840c1-055f-4d06-abdb-c4de7c7c1384. In November 2018, Houthi wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for peace in Yemen and an end to Saudi airstrikes in the country. He accused the United States of participating in “and sometimes leading the aggression on Yemen,” while also accusing U.S. President Donald Trump of allowing the war to continue to profit from weapons sales.Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, “Houthi leader: We want peace for Yemen, but Saudi airstrikes must stop,” Washington Post, November 9, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/11/09/houthi-leader-we-want-peace-for-yemen-but-saudi-airstrikes-must-stop/.

Houthi has denied his militia receives any support from Iran. He denies rumors he has traveled to Iran or personally has ties to the Iranian government. Houthi has also accused the United States and Saudi Arabia of falsely targeting Yemen to weaken Iran.Susanne Koelbl, “Yemen’s Houthi Rebel Leader – ‘The Americans Label Anyone Who Opposes Their Policy as Terrorists,’” Spiegel International, October 5, 2020, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/yemen-s-houthi-rebel-leader-the-americans-label-anyone-who-opposes-their-policy-as-terrorists-a-204840c1-055f-4d06-abdb-c4de7c7c1384.

On January 10, 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States would designate the Houthi rebels as a terrorist group on January 19. On Twitter, Houthi condemned the move and accused the Trump administration of “terrorist” behavior.Aziz El Yaakoubi, Jonathan Landay, and Matt Spetalnick, “U.S. to designate Yemen's Houthi movement as foreign terrorist group,” Reuters, January 10, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN29F0P5; John Hudson and Missy Ryan, “After internal battle, Trump administration to declare Yemen’s Houthis a terrorist group, raising humanitarian concerns,” Washington Post, January 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/yemen-terrorist-designation-houthis-war/2021/01/10/86c011a4-53b3-11eb-89bc-7f51ceb6bd57_story.html. On June 5, 2021, Houthi accused the U.N. Security Council on Twitter of full responsibility for Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. According to Houthi, the council erred in its decision to place Yemen under the jurisdiction Chapter VII of the U.N. charter, which allows the council to identify a threat to peace and take military action. He further claimed the council made its decision based on misleading reports from countries in the Saudi-led coalition.“Al-Houthi holds Security Council fully responsible for humanitarian disaster in Yemen,” Yemen News Agency (SABA), June 5, 2021, https://www.saba.ye/en/news3142610.htm.

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