Yemen has 10 players: See what each of them want

Subscribe to Oneindia News

After evacuating 4000 Indian nationals, India is all set to wrap up Operation Raahat which has turned out to be one of the most successful rescue missions the country has undertaken in recent times.

As the world applauds India's efforts in the rescue mission, one also needs to spare a thought for those who continue to be trapped in Yemen with no end in sight of the bloody conflict which as of today has ten players. [Yemen rescue operation: Why India is better than the rest]


Those who have been rescued from Yemen have horror tales to narrate of the conflict. We do not know who is firing at whom.

The streets are impossible to walk on and with different groups firing indiscriminately at each other, Yemen is not a sight that anyone would like to watch. [Yemen crisis: All need to know about ongoing turmoil and its geopolitical impact]

In the Yemen conflict there is the Houthi rebels, the Hadi government, former president Abdullah Salah, the Sunni tribes, Saudi Arabia, the anti Houthi coalition, al Qaeda, ISIS, Iran and the United States of America.

What do each of them want in Yemen? Let us find out.

The Houthi Rebels

The Houthis who follow the Zaydi branch of Shia Islam are fighting in Yemen for autonomy and also a right to practice their religion. While they chant the slogan Death to America and Death to Israel, their primary irritant is the Sunni dominance in the area. [Yemen's Houthis-From broadminded to extremely aggressive]

They feel that the Sunnis are trying to outdo them and this has led to their tribe declining. They have been fighting the Yemen government led by Abu Rabbu Mansoor Hadi who has been accused of snatching away their legitimate rights. This group is said to be backed by Iran which houses the largest number of Shias in the world.

The Hadi regime

Often referred to as a stooge of the United States of America, President of Yemen Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi has earned the wrath of the Houthi rebels. He has been accused of taking away their rights and propagating Sunni Islam to such an extent that he is trying to make the Shias non-existent. [Shiite gunmen seize Yemen presidential palace]

Hadi has the backing of both the United States of America and the Saudis. His extreme proximity to the US has made him a natural enemy of the people of Yemen.

A major assault against his regime was first launched by the Houthis and this battle witnessed several of Hadi's loyalists switching sides.

Although may in the Hadi led army are fighting to regain control over Yemen, his battle is being weakened as several soldiers have switched sides and joined the Houthi rebels.

Abdullah Saleh's fighters

For Abdullah Saleh, the war in Yemen is more of a personal issue. He had ruled Yemen for 30 long years before stepping down due to the Arab Springs protest in 2011. He was to be sentenced to death by the Hadi regime, but was granted immunity.

It was during a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council led by Saudi Arabia he decided to stay away and was granted immunity.

However what both Hadi and Saudi did not see coming was that he continued to enjoy the support of the military in Yemen. Today several men in the military are openly supporting Saleh.

Saleh on the other hand sees this as an opportune time to get back to power. The military is divided into three factions today with many of them loyal to Saleh, Hadi and the Houthi rebels.

The Sunni tribes

A relatively smaller group in Yemen, this tribe of Sunni fighters have taken advantage of the sectarian conflict between the Sunnis and Shias. [Yemen clashes kill more than 100 as aid delayed]

The Sunni tribes are divided in their loyalty. There are a few with the al Qaeda while many are with Hadi. Off late some of them have even joined the ISIS and are providing them with logistic support apart from accommodating them.

Saudi Arabia

It was only recently that Saudi Arabia decided to enter into the Yemen conflict. The Saudis are targeting the Houthi rebels directly. They want the Houthi rebels beaten down at any cost. It is a well known fact that Saudi played a big role in installing the Hadi government. [Yemen after Saudi strikes: It only got worse]

The Saudis who entered into the Yemen conflict on March 25th clearly state that they want to restore the legitimate Hadi led government in Yemen. However the other side to the Saudi battle is beating down the Houthi rebels which comprises the Shias.

Saudi is aware that the Houthi rebels are back by Iran. They would not want Iran to wield any sort of influence in Yemen and hence this battle becomes very important for Saudi Arabia.

The anti Houthi coalition

The anti Houthi coalition is a group of nations which backs Saudi Arabia in its Yemen war. The nations comprise the UAE, Qatar, Baharain, Sudan, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. Ideally this coalition had to comprise Paksitan as well.

However Pakistan has stayed clear of the conflict fearing that this may lead to sectarian violence in its own country. Currently the Anti Houthi coalition has offered outside support to Saudi which currently is carrying out air strikes.

This coalition would come completely into the picture when the battle by the Saudis is fought on the ground. These nations would then send in its soldiers for the ground battle in Yemen.

Al Qaeda

The al Qaeda which fights under the banner, al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula is the most dangerous of all the players in Yemen. They have been waging a battle in Yemen for several years now and have fought every government which has been cozy to the US. [Al Qaeda attacks Yemeni city, frees 300 prisoners]

The al Qaeda from Yemen has launched deadly attacks and today its Yemen army is considered to be the strongest when compared to the ones it has in other parts of the world. It may be recalled that the Charlie Hebdo attack was launched out of a module from Yemen.

The al Qaeda is also engaged in a battle with the Houthi rebels. They feel that only one of them exist in Yemen. It is either Shia or Sunni dominance and the al Qaeda supports the latter.


The ISIS had no major plans for Yemen. However due to a major split in the al Qaeda in 2014 several joined hands with the ISIS which lured the outfit into creating a full fledged unit in Yemen. [This poem by the lady ISIS recruit will leave you stunned]

The ISIS which also leads a battle for Sunni dominance would however fight the al Qaeda directly. It realizes that in order for it to dominate Yemen, it will need to beat down the al Qaeda. Once it beats the al Qaeda then it would shift its focus on the Houthi rebels.


The relationship between Iran and the Houthi rebels is something that both deny. However it is very clear that Iran would back the Houthis which comprises Shia Muslims. [Saudi strikes Yemen rebels as Iran warns of 'dangerous step']

Iran which houses the largest number of Shias in the world is engaged in battles to safeguard the Shias against whom the Sunnis have launched an offensive in many parts of the world.

Backing the Houthi rebels only seems to be a natural choice for Iran. Iran is not focusing on any other group but the Houthis for now.

Moreover backing the Houthis and helping them rule Yemen would also mean beating down the Saudis with who Iran cannot see eye to eye.

United States of America

The United States of America has been engaged in a battle in Yemen since 2002. The pretext is that they are fighting the al Qaeda. [US urges citizens to flee Yemen by sea]

However today with the battle being more than just about the al Qaeda, the US wants to ensure that the Hadi regime is safe. What the US has always contended is that Hadi was a natural ally to beat the al Qaeda.

However the battle for the US today is not as simple as just battling the al Qaeda. It needs to fight against the Houthi rebels too which is threatening to throw Hadi out for good. Over all the US finds itself in a complicated situation.

Please Wait while comments are loading...