U.S. Drones–Houthi Responses: A Critical Reading of Ansarullah’s Resistance Politics in Yemen

By Waleed Mahdi
Submitted to Session P4124 (Turmoil and Tolerance: Unpacking the Current Crisis in Yemen, 2015 Annual Meeting
LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
The presence of tolerance in Yemen or its lack thereof is informed by the fragile nature of the political revolutionary process since February 2011, which has fractured state power through military division, sectarian unrest, tribal conflict, regional disunity, and partisan polarization. At the core of this process has emerged a rising anxiety against national sovereignty amidst regional and international dictations often guided by priorities unresponsive to local overlapping, sometimes incongruent, demands. In this context, the United States has advocated a paradoxical role sustaining status quo politics in exchange for licensing its drone warfare against the threat of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), locally known as Ansar al-Sharia. Despite emphasis on accuracy and efficiency of the drone program, reports on civilian casualties unveil inherent intelligence flaws that demonstrate lack of knowledge about Yemen’s sociopolitical complexity. This has prompted the solidification of a resistance narrative that foregrounds a sensational public outcry against the intertwined deployment of U.S. hard power and complicity of Yemeni ruling elite. To unpack the parameters of such a narrative, this paper proposes a discursive analysis of relevant literature circulated by the Ansarullah Movement (aka Houthis), a sociopolitical entity that has recently transformed from a group embattling state atrocities into a well-organized force inclined to re-write the country’s transition. The significance of this work draws from proposed interrogations of the movement’s rhetorical alignment of its tribal and sectarian identities with a growing public search for national agency from implications of U.S. war on terror.