Houthi fighters to be tried in Yemen court

Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi and 174 of his affiliates will today be tried in absentia for toppling former Yemeni president

yemen al-houthi

Photo: Mohammed Huwais/ AFP

Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi and 174 of his affiliates will today be tried in absentia for toppling former Yemeni president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, among other crimes.

The Houthis, a militant Zaidi group allied with Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, have controlled Yemen’s capital Sana’a and other major provinces since launching a war against the government in 2014. Ahead of today’s trial, the defendants have been accused of killing civilians, violating Yemen’s arms embargo and disrupting the UN-brokered peace talks.

Although these allegations against the Houthis are true, the officially recognised government and its Saudi allies are guilty of similar crimes. The Saudi coalition is responsible for bombing medical facilities and schools and providing jihadi groups with US-manufactured weapons.

Since June 2020, it has become increasingly apparent that both the Houthis and the government play a significant role in exacerbating the country’s dire humanitarian situation. Due to disagreements between the two sides over the usage of tax revenues from fuel, various commercial vessels have been blocked from the critical Hodeida port, causing disruptions in access to food, water and medical supplies.

Thus, today’s trial appears an attempt by the Yemeni government to create a distraction from the country’s dire health emergency and crippling economy. The verdict of this trial—certain to declare the Houthi rebels guilty of their crimes—is unlikely to alter the political trajectory of the protracted conflict.

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