An entire country's government collapsed last week and it almost went unnoticed

Published February 11th, 2015 - 10:25 GMT

An entire country’s government was dissolved by a militant group last week. It almost went unnoticed.

It’s been a little tough to tune out of the saga that’s been unfolding since last month in Jordan, when Daesh militants first released a video of the late Japanese journalist Kenji Goto holding a photo of Jordanian pilot Muath Kasasbeh and warning the world what lie in store for the pilot and himself if Jordan failed to release would-be suicide bomber, Sajida Rishawi.

But while the world’s news lens focused in on Jordan and Japan, a Shiite rebel force in Yemen called the Houthis were taking big strides to finish off an overhaul they launched late last year to take over the government.

Now they’ve actually succeeded.

Fierce clashes with the Shiite militants drove Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to resign in January, taking with him Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and the entire parliamentary cabinet.

Then last week, the rebel group announced they had taken over the government and dissolved the parliament, replacing the leadership with a 5-person council as in interim president.

Since then, things have happened pretty quickly. By Tuesday, the US embassy announced complete closure and evacuation in Yemen, followed by the British on Wednesday. Rioters took to the streets in the country's southern tribal strongholds, long opposed to Houthi control. The UN said it believed Yemen is headed toward a civil war. 

This stepdown is only the latest development in a brutal but largely silent insurgency that’s been mounting since last September. Back then, Houthi militants stormed the capital Sanaa draped in Kalashnikovs, capitalizing on a wobbly central leadership and a discontented public.

But like most things in the Middle East, this conflict didn’t appear out of the blue, and it didn’t start with last September’s Sanaa push.

Here’s the quick and dirty guide to what you probably missed in Yemen, and what it means for the rest of the world.  

 
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Why is Yemen so unstable? Propped up by foreign aid and heavy influence, this is a poor country rich with resources. Popular frustration over unemployment, high prices and government corruption has made fertile ground for the Houthis to stage a rebellion. They capitalized on civil unrest over fuel prices last September.

Why is Yemen so unstable? Propped up by foreign aid and heavy influence, this is a poor country rich with resources. Popular frustration over unemployment, high prices and government corruption has made fertile ground for the Houthis to stage a rebellion. They capitalized on civil unrest over fuel prices last September.

And Iran? The Houthi movement is largely thought to be backed by Shia Iran. They’ve denied this, even though a ship carrying weapons reportedly from Iran was seized in Yemeni waters two years ago. The Houthis also have close links to Hezbollah.

And Iran? The Houthi movement is largely thought to be backed by Shia Iran. They’ve denied this, even though a ship carrying weapons reportedly from Iran was seized in Yemeni waters two years ago. The Houthis also have close links to Hezbollah.

What does this mean for the region? Sunni Saudi Arabia has already gone to war with the Houthis once, so this takeover is bad news. Yemen’s stability is also of key importance to the rest of Gulf states because of its control over the oil-trade flowing Bab el-Mandeb strait.

What does this mean for the region? Sunni Saudi Arabia has already gone to war with the Houthis once, so this takeover is bad news. Yemen’s stability is also of key importance to the rest of Gulf states because of its control over the oil-trade flowing Bab el-Mandeb strait.

Why is Yemen so unstable? Propped up by foreign aid and heavy influence, this is a poor country rich with resources. Popular frustration over unemployment, high prices and government corruption has made fertile ground for the Houthis to stage a rebellion. They capitalized on civil unrest over fuel prices last September.
And Iran? The Houthi movement is largely thought to be backed by Shia Iran. They’ve denied this, even though a ship carrying weapons reportedly from Iran was seized in Yemeni waters two years ago. The Houthis also have close links to Hezbollah.
What does this mean for the region? Sunni Saudi Arabia has already gone to war with the Houthis once, so this takeover is bad news. Yemen’s stability is also of key importance to the rest of Gulf states because of its control over the oil-trade flowing Bab el-Mandeb strait.
Why is Yemen so unstable? Propped up by foreign aid and heavy influence, this is a poor country rich with resources. Popular frustration over unemployment, high prices and government corruption has made fertile ground for the Houthis to stage a rebellion. They capitalized on civil unrest over fuel prices last September.
Why is Yemen so unstable? Propped up by foreign aid and heavy influence, this is a poor country rich with resources. Popular frustration over unemployment, high prices and government corruption has made fertile ground for the Houthis to stage a rebellion. They capitalized on civil unrest over fuel prices last September.
And Iran? The Houthi movement is largely thought to be backed by Shia Iran. They’ve denied this, even though a ship carrying weapons reportedly from Iran was seized in Yemeni waters two years ago. The Houthis also have close links to Hezbollah.
And Iran? The Houthi movement is largely thought to be backed by Shia Iran. They’ve denied this, even though a ship carrying weapons reportedly from Iran was seized in Yemeni waters two years ago. The Houthis also have close links to Hezbollah.
What does this mean for the region? Sunni Saudi Arabia has already gone to war with the Houthis once, so this takeover is bad news. Yemen’s stability is also of key importance to the rest of Gulf states because of its control over the oil-trade flowing Bab el-Mandeb strait.
What does this mean for the region? Sunni Saudi Arabia has already gone to war with the Houthis once, so this takeover is bad news. Yemen’s stability is also of key importance to the rest of Gulf states because of its control over the oil-trade flowing Bab el-Mandeb strait.