(New York, N.Y.) — On Sunday, Houthi rebels in Yemen fired ballistic missiles into the strategically important city of Marib, killing two children and wounding more than 30 people. The attack is a continuation of the Houthis’ months-long assault on Marib, the last stronghold in northern Yemen of the internationally recognized Yemeni government. This attack by the Iran-backed group, a previously U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entity, compounds the dire humanitarian crisis in Yemen, impedes United Nations-led efforts to stem the fighting, and moves the Houthis closer to assuming near total control over northern Yemen and its gas and oil infrastructure.
The Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah (Partisans of God), are an Iranian-backed, Shiite Muslim military and political movement in Yemen. Its members, who subscribe to the minority Zaidi sect of Shiite Islam, have waged a series of bloody insurgencies against the Yemeni government since 2004, overthrowing the government and seizing power in Sanaa in 2015. At that time, a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states, including five Gulf Arab states, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, and Sudan, began intervening in Yemen to restore the U.N.-recognized Yemeni government living in exile.
The ongoing conflict has reportedly resulted in the deaths of more than 12,600 Yemeni civilians and over 112,000 casualties overall. More than four million others have been displaced since 2014, according to the United Nations. According to an August 2021 U.N. report, approximately two-thirds of Yemen’s population—about 20 million people—rely on humanitarian aid, while about five million people “are one step away from succumbing to famine and the diseases that go with it.” Additionally, the Houthis have hindered vaccination efforts in Yemen against COVID-19 and restricted access to medical volunteers. International efforts to negotiate a long-term ceasefire have thus far failed, as officials have accused the Houthis of prioritizing their conquest of Marib.
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To read CEP’s Yemen resource, please click here.