On May 23rd, in an interview with Fareed Zakaria, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that the Houthis in Yemen “continue to hold out” despite the fact that “the Saudis have been engaged productively in trying to bring this war to an end.” Moreover, the UN council recently discussed the situation in Yemen, with the UN envoy for Yemen coming out to make a plea for global assistance in this affair, what he dubs “a humanitarian crisis.” Many are taking this to be a sign that the situation in Yemen has turned against the interest of the Saudis and in favor of the Houthis.
For over a decade, the situation in Yemen has continued to escalate, with tensions between Houthis and the Saudis increasing more and more. One could even make the case that the situation goes back into the 20th century, when, in 1932 Ibn Saud and the Imam of Yemen had ambitions of controlling the region, which had formerly been occupied by tribes who were loosely aligned with the Ottoman Empire. This ended up escalating into a war in 1934, in which Yemen was backed by the Fascist Kingdom of Italy; however, in the end, the Saudis won and Yemen was forced to sign a 20-year non-aggression treaty.
Since 2004, things have begun to re-escalate, with the Saudis influencing Yemeni politicians and targeting areas where Houthis reside. In 2011, as a response to the corruption in Yemen, the Houthis, among other groups, participated in a popular revolution against the Saudi-influenced government. And Since 2015, there has been an ongoing conflict in the region, with thousands of Yemeni citizens killed and wounded.
Saudi Arabia has also been aligned with other Sunni states, like the UAE, Jordan, Qatar, and Sudan (which recently came to join the Gulf-State alliance being formed by the US and Israel). The Houthis have received the support of countries like Iran and North Korea, as well as the support of the domestic army. And with weapons being dealt to Saudi-Arabia from Western countries like the US, UK, and Canada, this situation is proving to be yet another classic example of a Western, Neoliberal/Neoconservative proxy-war against the nations that resist their globalization.
With the recent victory of Assad in Syria, the foreign-policy establishment must be ripping out their hair with the Houthis doing as well as they are. Furthermore, with Populism brewing and bubbling behind the scenes on the Left and Right, the Center is slowly being ripped apart and reshaped into something new.