Understanding the Houthi Faction in Yemen

Editor’s Note: Yemen’s war, the world’s deadliest active conflict, has no end in sight. Many of its chief protagonists—including the Houthis, whose ties to Iran and hostility to U.S. allies put them at the center of the conflict—are not well understood. Sama’a al-Hamdani, the director of the Yemen Cultural Institute for Heritage and the Arts, does a deep dive on the Houthis. She details their goals and divisions, as well as how they might be induced to join Yemen’s nascent peace process. Daniel Byman *** The war in Yemen is often misunderstood, and the consequent ongoing humanitarian crisis is disregarded. Many analyses reduce the conflict to a proxy war between the Arab coalition—led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—and Iran. However, the proxy war is only one layer of a multidimensional conflict that includes many factions, some of which are uncomfortable partnerships. U.S. policy has been mostly bound to the…

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