The Huthi movement has been often pictured as an Iranian proxy, overstating existing support by Teheran and the regional Shia networks, while underestimating the weight of Ansarullah’s local insurgency. This paper aims to deconstruct and contextualize the Ansarullah phenomenon before and during Yemen’s regionalized civil war. Husayn Al-Huthi’s movement re-discovered Zaydi tradition, but contextualized it into the politicization of the Shia trend. The paper isolates and addresses the intersected layers which mark the periphery-regime conflict between the Huthis and the government, analyzing why the Sa’da wars (2004-10) represented a general test for the 2015 crisis. The contribution also investigates how the Huthi movement has managed to take advantage from regional and domestic dynamics to enhance its political leverage, transforming the Huthis from local fighters to national challengers inside Yemen’s hybrid political order.
Eleonora Ardemagni, Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean Analyst at the NATO Defense College Foundation. She an Associate Research Fellow for ISPI.